a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

PDF sucks

I thought I'd have a look at the House Jan. 6 committee's report. Just as, like, a lark: I know it'll contain no actual new information or suggest any big-picture ideas for stomping out fascism in the US. It's just a bunch of lawyers trying to get their guy. But hey, that guy sucks, and all of the characters in the story are extremely bad at everything, so as a comedy of errors, there may be some entertainment value there.

But the report is only available as a dang PDF. I'm so sick of PDFs. The "portable document format" is the least portable document format. They only make sense for documents you're expecting people to print. No one's going to print an 800 page document. It's inconvenient for every actual use-case. For reading on a computer, it's exactly the wrong aspect ratio. My monitor doesn't support tate mode. It would be cool if it did, but that's a market niche that barely exists, so I'm sure it'd be prohibitively expensive.

It is the right aspect ratio to read on a phone, but PDFs choose fonts designed for an 8½ x 11" sheet of paper, not a 2½ x 4½" screen, which is what my phone has. So that's not helpful. No, the only people for whom PDFs are practical are those who own giant tablets, which is almost nobody. There are probably more people with tate-adjustable monitors in the world than owners of colossal thousand-dollar tablet computers.

So here's my suggestion: why not put out an epub? You can still publish your PDFs too, I know graphic design is your passion and you want to show everyone your layout chops, but presumably it's more important that people actually be able to read the text that you write, and epubs are perfect for that. Any software that can display a PDF can display an epub, so you know you're not excluding anyone. People can read epubs on pretty much any device they own, with a font size that's comfortable for them. They get a book-like page-flipping experience. I'm sure whatever publishing software you used to generate the PDF can also spit out an epub. Heck, when I published Tessa Tomble and the Sunken Dowry, my fun fantasy story, a lighthearted romp about a student witch at a magic school who hatches a scheme, in stores now, I used calibre to do exactly that. Have you tried calibre? It's pretty good, and free!

And hey, forget about books for a second, you could make it a website too! HTML is famously good at being readable on lots of different devices, even old cheap ones with tiny screens. So I did that too.

But hey, I guess Penguin, HarperCollins, Celadon, Melville House, et al. have gotta get their cut. We can't have the government be in the business of providing information in a format that's convenient for the people who paid for it. That'd be like socialism or something 🦝

#tech #media