Virtual Airplane” is published in the three most popular e-book formats: PDF, MOBI (Amazon) and EPUB. This guide uses some of the specific modern e-book features, as the internal hypertext links, vector illustrations (SVG), and mapping of the physical page numbers. The lack of these elements would lower the quality of this book

However, not every e-book reader or application correctly displays even the most popular formats. In particular, in the case of the new, open formats, such as EPUB, there is a technical ”Wild West”. (As among the web browsers in the mid-90s, when every one displayed the same HTML code in a different way). To preserve the quality of this book, I decided to optimize at least one format for each of the most popular e-reader platforms. These are:

(I chose the only devices that have appropriate color displays).

The e-book readers that I suggest for these platforms:

Table 1 evaluates the reading experience of my book for every combination of the three formats and six platforms listed above. The results range from 10 (best) to 0 (not available). (Click these values to see evaluation details). Below their values I placed names of the suggested e-book readers:

  PDF MOBI (KF8) EPUB
PC (Windows) 6.5

-0.50 for the partial flow (scroll) mode;

-2.00 for the low display resolution;

-0.50 for the lower graphical quality (absence of the icons, paragraph fragmentation, footnotes at the bottom of the pages);

-0.50 for not preserving the current page between reading sessions;


Adobe Reader
6.75

-1.00 for the missing flow (scroll) mode

-2.00 for the low display resolution;

-0.25 for the missing physical page numbers feature;


Kindle for PC
7.25

-2.00 for the low display resolution;

-0.50 for the missing text search functionality;

-0.25 for inactive Back button for the hyperlinks which reference and target lie in the same section;


AZARDI
PC (Linux) 6.5
  • When you drop a PDF file into Firefox, its internal PDF reader display its contents and highlights the hypertext links in the text. Firefox allows you to use the browser Back button to return from a hypertext reference to the previous location in the book;
  • The default Ubuntu PDF reader – Document Viewer – has no Back (nor Previous) button;
  • There are problems with installing Adobe Reader in the newest Ubuntu versions;

Firefox
not supported 7.0

-2.00 for the low display resolution;

-0.25 for the missing note/highlight functionality;

-0.25 for the missing physical page numbers feature;

-0.50 for the missing text search functionality;


EPUBReader
PC (Mac OS) 6.5/8.5 Compared to the Windows version:

+2.00 for the Retina display resolution (in the new Mac models);


Adobe Reader
6.75/8.75 Compared to the Windows version:

+2.00 for the Retina display resolution (in the new Mac models);


Kindle for Mac
3.75/8.25 For the models with Retina displays:

-1.00 for the missing flow (scroll) mode;

-0.25 for the missing physical page numbers feature;

-0.50 for the fixed text column width;

In addition, for the older models

-2.00 for the low display resolution;

-2.50 for the unreadable text in the figures. (When you widen the program window, iBooks does not increase the text column width. It adds another text column instead. This is because iBooks for Mac does not support the Scrolling View mode);

For the computers without Retina displays I suggest the AZARDI reader. (It is as good for these Macs as for Windows: 7.25).

iBooks for Mac
iPad (iOS) serious problem There is no Previous button (!) in Adobe Reader, as well as in the others PDF readers for iOS. The structure of this book is largely based on hypertext references. Without the ability to return to the main text the reading process becomes more difficult;
Adobe Reader
critical problem Because of the errors in rendering of the SVG images, Kindle for iOS does not display any illustrations from this book. I reported these bugs to Amazon KDP helpdesk, but it is hard to tell when they will be resolved.
Kindle for iOS
9.75 The best e-book reader!

-0.25 for the fixed margin width. (In the Scroll View mode you can rotate the tablet to increase the text column width. However, there is still a lot of empty space on its left and right side).

iBooks for iOS has much more options than iBooks for Mac

iBooks for iOS
Kindle Fire 8.5 Compared to the PC version:

+2.00 for the high resolution display (in the HD and HDX series);


Adobe Reader
8.5

-1.00 for the missing flow (scroll) mode;

-0.25 for the missing physical page numbers feature;

-0.25 for some bugs in the Back button functionality. (Sometimes when you tap it to return from a footnote, Kindle Fire closes the book. I created a workaround for this problem - it is described in section „How to read this book”)


internal
not supported
Tablet (Android) 6.5/8.5 Compared to the PC version:

+2.00 for the tablets with high resolution displays (above 200 dpi);


Adobe Reader
6.5/8.5 Compared to the PC version:

+2.00 for the tablets with high resolution displays (above 200 dpi);

-0.25 The partial Back button functionality is available in the slider at the bottom of the screen. It displays the three last locations. You can tap such a point to go there. However, there may be manual problems when these points are close to each other.


Kindle for Android
no compatible application I tested a lot of different free EPUB 3.0 readers for Android. Unfortunately, most of them had problems with displaying illustrations from this book. (These images dynamically adapt to the screen width. In the best cases, the tested programs "inscribed them into squares", adding blank areas below and above every figure).
Table 1: Evaluation of supported platforms and e-book formats of the ”Virtual Airplane” book (from 0 to 10: click the value to see the details).

The results presented in Table 1 apply only to the on-screen reading experience. I evaluated the usefulness of a particular device and format for the particular book (”Virtual Airplane”). This comparison should not be treated as a kind of overall evaluation, applicable to other books. For most of them, from such a test you can obtain quite different results (it depends on the number and the type of the illustrations). The presented values were calculated in the ”negative way”: Initially, I assigned to every platform/format the maximum 10 points. Then I subtracted from this number appropriate fraction of points for the every missing feature. In comments to each table cell you will find details of these calculations. The lower ratings for the PCs are based on the assumption that their screens have resolution of about 100dpi. (That's why they are higher for the Retina displays). The ”flow (scroll) mode” mentioned in these comments is the ability to disable pagination (at least inside sections of this book). This evaluation takes into account the lower quality of the PDF graphics. It is exclusively caused by the workflow, which I prepared for this publication. This has nothing to do with the capabilities of a particular reader.

If you would like to print this book - it is only possible in for the PDF format (available from Lulu or Google Play web stores), and only on the PC platforms. MOBI and EPUB formats do not allow any printing. However, in most of the major online stores you cannot buy books in the PDF format (Google Play is an exception). Therefore, I treat the MOBI and EPUB as the main formats, and focus on their quality. The PDF is a complementary format, thus there are no many "decorative" elements, as icons or rounded corners of the text boxes.

I did not tested some platforms, such as Barnes&Noble reader - Nook. Nook uses Android operating system and accepts the EPUB format. However, testing other Android tablets, I verified dozens of EPUB readers (including the popular Adobe Digital Editions). I can only conclude that none of them supports the features of the EPUB 3.0/SVG formats that are needed for this book. The most common problem on Android readers are additional margins, which appear at the top and bottom of each illustration. The EPUB file of this book is prepared for the iPad (and its default iBooks reader), so most likely the Nook will not display it correctly. In fact, for the Android systems best option is PDF format. You can read it in Adobe Reader application, setting the page flow to "continuous". The second in the rank are the Amazon MOBI files, which you can read in the Kindle for Android app.

I also advise against reading this publication on the readers with monochrome screens (the ones that use the e-ink technology). Although the whole family of Amazon Kindle readers (Classic, Touch, Paperwhite) properly displays the contents of this book, the text boxes from its illustrations are hardly readable on their 6" screens. What's more, the color images rendered in the available 16 shades of gray look like photocopies of the original book.