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Standard Ebooks (standardebooks.org)
1578 points by tosh on July 24, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 256 comments



I’ve only read a handful of books from Standard Ebook, but they’ve all been amazing quality ebooks — better than some ebooks I’ve paid for through an Amazon Kindle back in the day.

These folks keep an RSS (love it) with each new book they add to the collection. The hoarder/collector in me likes to have all these perfectly formatted books and thanks to the hardworking people at SE I have, and you can too, some 700 classics for free!


Glad to hear you're liking the project! We just added bulk downloads too, for the collector in you: https://standardebooks.org/bulk-downloads


Since this is on top of HN now, you'll get hit by the crowd. You might want to implement torrent support too, so you won't get hit that hard.


We've been front paged before without problems :) See https://alexcabal.com/posts/standard-ebooks-and-classic-web-...

(Though that article is now out of date, as we now have a database running that handles things like patron registration, though it still doesn't index ebooks.)


This web stack sounds hopelessly anachronistic.

If you’d just use a modern stack you could serve 10x less requests with more hardware.


So would you say they are just not web scale yet?!

They seem to be serving millions of books per month on a cheap VM. For once a smaller website didn't crash upon hitting the front page, so I don't really see any problems here.


Read the comment again, you brain may have made automatic corrections - as mine did upon first read. :-) There is more than a little cynicism there.


Oh you're right, my bad! Definitely glazed over good chunks of the comment because I've seen similar takes without the sarcasm ad nauseam.

I did read anachronistic as antagonistic (?) and less as more. Brain auto-correct may just be worse than the phone keyboard one!


You had me in the first half ;-)


I love the old hattedness of this comment. Aeolun must have been around and seen things.


The sarcasm almost flew right past me.


Sounds pretty far from hopeless to me


Closely read the second half again.


God, I loved this article. I kept nodding to the point of almost exclaiming agreement out loud.

It’s rare to see some good sense in this industry, which is almost completely fashion and hype/novelty driven, despite supposedly being a technical field.


> For example, once you start with AWS and its eldritch coterie of inscrutable services

Ohh dang this is good prose, and a great read to boot. Thank you!


it requires an email address/login so it won't be hit that hard. (no disrespect intended)


Hi, I am curious if you might consider publishing directly to the stores (Kindle) as a free book (or $0.99). It would make it easier for people to access. I am an engineer but failed to try and get a kindle book downloaded and read last night after seeing your post. So I imagine your work is out of grasp to all but the most technical who have a computer handy. I was 100% on my phone (no computer to upload), and I just couldn't figure it out and gave up. I would support you over other publishers.


Kindle is one of the worst reading platforms and it looks like this kind of difficulty is one more reason why. If you're on your phone, try using almost any other ereading app and download our epub files instead.

Amazon expressly forbids any more free public domain ebooks on their platform. But our ebooks are available at the Google Play store and in the Apple store, for free.


There was a hack to publish a book for free in Google Play and ask for a price match from Amazon. Does it still work?


Not sure, but even if Amazon allowed more free public domain books, it wouldn't make much sense to post there because their store is so saturated with low-quality junk editions. There isn't much point in being on the 20th page of search results for "Pride and Prejudice".


Without a desktop intermediary your best bet is to email the file to your kindle from your phone. By default kindles have a random generated email address. You can customize the email address to something memorable in your kindle settings (and also in Amazon's Devices settings web pages) or just add the random generated address to your contact list.

There's a bunch of tutorials on it you can find that try to make it easy to figure out where these settings pages are. But of course Amazon likes to move that cheese every few months and A/B test "improvements" to the pages and page designs so tutorials also get outdated quickly.


Editor-in-chief here, happy to answer any questions!


My wife is an admin on the PG project. She puts in a lot of effort to keep the site secure. I think they welcome efforts like yours, and reuse is part of why they exist! They also research the copyrights, to make sure they are clear to share.

I use Project Gutenberg a lot personally, and in fact I'm using one of their books as a study for my upcoming startup:

https://github.com/carter-brothers/hand-propped#first-stage-...

One thing I really like about the PG site is that a few years ago they removed most of the JavaScript, which IMO makes it more usable. I haven't looked at Standard Ebooks yet, but I look forward to. Thanks!

One book I'd like to see on Standard Ebooks is "The Flying Girl", which my wife and I just read and loved. It's by L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), and is about a flying startup in 1911, which I previously posted on HN:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32142757


The Flying Girl would make a good first production, if you'd like to take it on! See https://standardebooks.org/contribute/producing-an-ebook-ste...

Make sure to thank your wife on my behalf for her hard work at PG!


What a great idea! There was also a sequel:

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/53692

I'll look into doing these, I also know a librarian who might be interested.

I really can't believe Disney or Pixar, or some studio didn't make "The Flying Girl" into a movie. It really was bold and quite moving to see Baum (writing nom de plum as Edith Van Dyne) make the female character the hero, back in 1911.


first link is dead


Love this project! I’ve read several books from Project Gutenberg and owe a great deal to the project. I love seeing this extension of it and will be sure to avail myself of it and possibly contribute one day!

Not a question, so much as a suggestion from an interested netizen: it would be great to see changes flowed back up to Gutenberg. I know they have a process for submitting updates - I’ve made several to The Wealth of Nations myself.

Thanks for sharing the project, and I look forward to my next read!


It’s down to the producer, but 95% of the SE books I produce have changes upstreamed to PG. There’s no competition between us: we both serve different niches.


Yeah, the question is: why this, and not just put in with Project Gutenberg?


I think the differentiator is that SE puts a lot more care into the creation of the end product than PG.


I think that’s a little unfair on PG. Their goal is digital preservation, whilst SE’s is readability. We couldn’t do what we do without PG, and there’s (luckily) space for both projects to coexist in a mutually beneficial way. And the reader gets to pick a source that best matches what they’re looking for.


In general, I love the format, however I notice that (for example), Hugh Lofting's "The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle" has none of Lofting's illustrations - which seems a shame in a children's book - is this a deliberate policy choice?


Yes, we purposely don't include decorative illustrations in any ebook. (With some very rare exceptions.)


Thanks - as I suspected, one of those seems to be "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" where "The Dancing Men" story needs the illustration to make the story understandable.


What's the rationale for not including illustrations?


The ebooks we work on are often very old, and have been illustrated various times over the years. We don't want to have to pick and choose a single set of illustrations, nor do we want to forced to constantly justify exceptions for everyone's pet book, so we just have a blanket "no decorative illustrations" policy.

Note that this only refers to decorative illustrations, which is not the same as an illustration required to understand the text. As someone pointed out elsewhere, books like Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie, which can include narrative-critical illustrations like a map of a murder scene, or nonfiction which can often have relevant pictures but are not "illustrated" in the decorative sense, get to keep their images.


I would argue that, where the book is illustrated by the author, you should keep those illustrations.

(I'm against the no-illustrations policy in general, but illustration by the author seems like an especially clear case.)


yes, this seems to me to make sense, contextually. If you did Piranesi on architecture, it wouldn't make sense to exclude his drawings. or Ronald Searle's diary of his time in the PoW camps in Japan, or Edward Ardizzone's war diaries, or the sketches by "DD" watkins in his books.. or heaps of others.

arthur rackham's illustrations for childrens books, just like e.h. shepards for winnie-the-pooh, or Quentin Blake for his contributions to childrens books: its senseless to re-publish them without these illustrations (when the IP becomes available, of course)


I was imagining an illustration-free version of Dr. Seuss.


What about texts where there are more or less “canonical” illustrations? Like, for an edition of Bleak House by Charles Dickens, it’s just not the same without the sketches by “Phiz” that were present in the original publication. Same with John Tenniels illustrations of Alice in Wonderland.

Amazing project by the way. Can’t believe I just heard about it today, will dig into your catalogue with excitement!


I super respect your thoughtful principles. the focus has clearly paid off!


Is that just to cut down on file size?


even if they are also public domain?


Do you have any plans to support (and accept contributions to) non-English books? It’ll be amazing to see original Russian classic texts redone with the same level of care.


This is a common request and the answer is unfortunately no. Typography varies across languages and we are only experts in English typography. People have tried to start up various SE-like projects for other languages, but as far as I know none have taken off.


Fair enough. Would you consider officially endorsing any such projects (e.g. with links on your website), for mutual benefit?


What about Latin, it uses the same typography as English.


SE has a lot of English-specific tooling if you look at their cli tool.


What a great project! Would you have a need for a veteran web dev who also happened to be an English major? Took a look at the volunteer page, but nothing jumped out.


Absolutely! Creating epub ebooks is basically creating web pages. Epubs are just zipped up XHTML files, with exactly the same semantic structure and CSS styling you'd find on a well-made web page. That makes web devs with English majors our ideal type of volunteer!

Check out our step by step guide to creating an ebook[1] and then our Wanted Ebook list[2] for some good first-time productions. Then send a note to our mailing list and we'll help you through it.

Creating an ebook is a very satisfying endeavor - I always say it's like building your own lightsaber.

[1] https://standardebooks.org/contribute/producing-an-ebook-ste...

[2] https://standardebooks.org/contribute/wanted-ebooks


The list for accepting ebooks makes a lot of sense, but I noted that public domain books are excluded. What is the reason for that?


I’m neither associated with the project nor a lawyer, but I can speculate: afaik U.S. copyright law doesn’t explicitly allow someone to declare a text to be in the public domain.


From someone reading with a Kobo device:

* Have you considered putting the books onto the official store? It would make it much smoother to get books on the device. You could charge a small fee to pay for the effort, I’d pay the extra to support the project and avoid the hassle of doing an upload. I just saw above you now do bulk downloads, which will help also.

* Although your covers are beautiful, they only appear in a small corner of the screen for the Kobo devices I’ve used, even using the Kepub format, is that a known issue?

And also to thank you for the effort. This project plays a really important role and has been a source of pleasure for many of my friends and family.


We've been in touch with Kobo but they haven't expressed a lot of interest. We do have an integration with the Google Play store, so if you search for an ebook we have in our catalog, it should appear near the top.

I use a Kobo eink device myself and haven't noticed the cover art problem you're describing. Make sure you're on the latest firmware, and that you're transferring our kepub files using a USB cable and not Calibre. (Calibre may attempt to apply their own conversion on top of our own conversion, which can result in unexpected things happening.)


>Make sure you're on the latest firmware

If I may interject, overriding Kobo's firmware with KOReader (simple drag-n-drop of a file) gave a second life to my Aura 2. It's made it responsive and snappy while providing more features. It may not be necessary for newer ones (or for cover art on sleep), but I was on the fence to upgrade my 5 year old e-reader before trying it, feels like a new device now.


Are you aware that someone is selling your books on Kobo with the Standard Ebooks publisher name?

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=standard%20ebooks&ac...


Yes, that's going to happen. The books are in the US public domain and anyone in the US can do anything they want with them, including reselling them. Obviously we are not the ones selling these.


That's fair, but I'd think the issue was less about copyright and more...trademark infringement? Since they're selling as "Standard Ebooks", I think there's reasonable grounds for confusion that someone browsing the Kobo store might see one of the books being offered as coming from you and make a purchase as a kind of donation, thinking that it's going towards SE's upkeep rather than into some random's pocket.


This is a problem Project Gutenberg has had for years, on Amazon and other platforms. It's a game of whack a mole and ultimately not really worth pursuing. As soon as you shut one guy down, another one appears with the same great idea.

In any case almost nobody is buying these anyway, as there are so many other free ebook editions of just about all of these books already.


I'm not a lawyer, but I believe failure to defend a trademark is a great way to lose a trademark.

I'm surprised Kobo doesn't have a list of banned seller names for situations like this. It would take zero effort on their end, and they're clearly opening themselves to liability.

Off to create Amazon and Disney stores over there... /s


I am not a lawyer bit it seems that Standard Ebooks is not a trademark.


The stories may be public domain but your arrangement, and more importantly your trade name are protected. You may not have the desire to take action like a dmca takedown, but you're definitely within your rights to do so.


You can stop the third-party vendor from saying "I am Standard Ebooks", but you can't stop them from referring to the book as coming from Standard Ebooks, because that's true.


That is very sad to see.


Thanks for both answers, I use Calibre, so that’s the reason why I’m getting that.


I've taken to just opening the SE website in the Kobo experimental browser and downloading the books directly onto the device that way. The browser is pretty sluggish, but even then it only takes a few clicks if you know what book you're looking for.


There's been some talk about improving the Kobo browser experience, if you want to take a crack at it! https://github.com/standardebooks/web/issues/126


I'm getting old and my eye sight is going. Are there any read-a-loud options you can recommend? The Edge browser does a decent job on PDF's in a voice you can select, but it's kind of hacky for an entire book.


Have you tried using NVDA? It's an open source and free screen reader - https://www.nvaccess.org/


Thanks! This looks promising for the visually impaired.


I find it useful for reading out stuff on a page as well despite not having vision impairments, if you have a long form article you can just set it off and it will read it out to you.


if you have an Alexa it can read ebooks you've bought on Amazon.


the question is clearly asking how not to do this on Amazon.


the whole purpose of this thread is not to rely on Amazon


I enjoy the cover art selected for the ebooks. How do you select the cover art and what sources do you like to use?


Cover art must be in a fine art oil painting style, and it's up to each producer to find something thematically appropriate. Once they do we require proof of US public domain status. See https://standardebooks.org/manual/1.6.4/10-art-and-images#10...

Wikiart and Artvee are good places to start cover art research. Many museums now have explicit CC0 collections, too.

Finding good public domain cover art can be extremely time consuming - it's the part of the process most likely to make a new contributor give up. But when you find a great cover, it feels great!


Slight tangent, but have you considered using these new generative models like Dall E 2[1]? So far my experience has been that they generate great oil paintings. Maybe there could also be an automated pipeline that generates oil painting covers using book titles or first sentences.

[1] https://openai.com/dall-e-2/


Leaving aside the aesthetic considerations, the images produced from OpenAI software aren’t public domain, and so we can’t use them. See https://openai.com/api/policies/sharing-publication/ for a list of restrictions OpenAI places on the use of their generated images.


I'd love to see a section (or sorting option) with the most downloaded ebooks.


How many volunteers do you have? What motivates people to keep working?


I don't keep count but over the years I'd say the number is in the several hundreds, including one-time volunteers. We do have a core set of what we call "editors", who are volunteers in charge of managing individual productions, along with a solid amount of repeat contributors who work on ebooks as they feel like it.

I think people participate because it feels good to make something of quality, and then give it away. If you're passionate about literature, then you get to read a lot of great stuff while you're doing it, too.


To tack on, how could one join as a volunteer?


See here: https://standardebooks.org/contribute

Our number one need is ebook producers. If you're passingly familiar in a command line environment and have basic HTML/CSS knowledge, you can produce an ebook!


I’m curious what format the advanced epub is — epub v3?


Yes, the advanced epubs are just the zipped source repo, which is epub 3.2, including any "advanced" CSS selectors and so on. "Advanced" here just means that the epubs are written with a modern web rendering engine in mind, while most ereading platforms in the wild are still at an IE6 level of CSS/HTML rendering support.

The "compatible" epub is the same epub, but with various compatibility enhancements automatically added for different ereading platforms.

Currently only web browsers can render the advanced epubs at 100% fidelity. iBooks might be the only non-browser ereading platform that does a pretty good job with the advanced epubs, as I believe it uses modern Webkit as its renderer. For any other ereader, use the compatible epubs. (Or kepubs for Kobo.)


Would you have any Android reading app recommendation for advanced epubs? There are android ereaders, those should surely be able to handle any epub given the right app, right?


Lithium seems to be fairly good in terms of rendering our advanced epubs, but it's not perfect; note especially that it doesn't invert black-and-white SVGs correctly so unless you set it to a dark page theme, they'll be "invisible". There are also some other rendering quirks for things like very big tables used for play formatting.

Poor renderers are a perennial problem in the epub world and there seems to be little interest in improving the situation. Just use the compatible epubs - for reading purposes they're almost equivalent except in some rare edge cases. Or, you can use our 'read online in browser' option to read ebooks directly in your web browser, which will serve you the source of our advanced epubs. But of course reading in a browser is less than ideal.


Thoughts on introducing some kind of popularity/rank sort? I.e., number of on-site downloads, off-site citations or some book-equivalent-IMDB. Is it a conscious choice not to have one or just feature prioritization?

The site looks lovely and I think it's great to have classic books properly formatted for e-readers, I've snatched up the ones that were sitting on my reading list for a while, but I find it unfortunate that it's a bit rough to find new things. I guess that mimics the feeling of a library, where books are grouped by broad genre but only alphabetical (or random) within, but I feel like it would be useful if it had some kind of pointers for discovery.


I'd be open to that but there's limited time in the day! If a volunteer wants to discuss making it happen, send a note to our mailing list or open a GitHub issue and we can talk about it.


Thank you very much for demonstrating that a website without JavaScript is still one very good way to produce a website!


Have any of the ebooks included any serious math? I see that MathML is the expectation, but I wonder if the rules around the math aren't just ignored because of the rest of the culture around which books are selected and worked on.

Indeed, in academic writing I never see MathML used in an HMTL setting, it's always MathJax or KaTeX. For your purposes this is probably fine, but imagining if someone wanted to author a high quality math textbook following the same standard I would wager they'd run into a brick wall


Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, and A Tangled Tale are probably our most MathML-heavy books.

Books from the PD era are not very likely to feature math serious enough to require MathML. This is probably for the best... MathML support in ereaders is poor, with the exception of iBooks and Kobo. Raw MathML is retained in our "advanced" epubs, but it's converted to PNGs in our "compatible" epubs, for this reason.

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/ludwig-wittgenstein/tracta...

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/charles-babbage/passages-f...

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/lewis-carroll/a-tangled-ta...


It’s certainly not “serious math,” but I’m rather proud of this revision I made to the MathML used for a throwaway equation in an obscure short story: https://github.com/standardebooks/fritz-leiber_short-fiction...


I saw you mentioned using a Kobo eink device. Is that what you would recommend? It seems the 11th gen Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Libra 2 are pretty comparable. I'd like to support a non-Amazon product, but it also looks like I can get 20% off a new Kindle by trading in my very old Kindle Touch, making the Kobo effectively $50-60 more expensive...


What’s something you’d recommend to a friend as a beach read?


The Book of Wonder is a series of weird short stories, some of them gloomy and pessimistic but many with a thread of dark humor. "Chu-bu and Sheemish" is one of my all-time favorite short stories - it's creative and hilarious. [1]

I also liked A Voyage to Arcturus, which has become a modern cult classic. It's probably my favorite book I've read for SE, though it might be a little heavy for a "beach read." [2]

P. G. Wodehouse is always a good bet for lighter reading. [3]

The Martian books are also light swashbuckling sci-fi. [4]

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is considered to be one of the best murder mysteries ever written. [5]

[1] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/lord-dunsany/the-book-of-w...

[2] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/david-lindsay/a-voyage-to-...

[3] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/p-g-wodehouse

[4] https://standardebooks.org/collections/martian

[5] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/agatha-christie/the-murder...


Thanks a lot for doing this! I just downloaded a PG Wodehouse book on the iPad and I am thoroughly impressed by the quality of the book! I read PG's books when I was young. I used to borrow them from a local library so I don't own any of them.


The first book I downloaded from standard ebooks was a PG Wodehouse book. I’d never read him and figured I’d give both him and the service a try. Neither disappointed.


Along with Wodehouse, I would also suggest E F Benson.


I’ll second Alex’s recommendations of P. G. Wodehouse (especially Jeeves Stories) and Agatha Christie.

A personal favorite of mine is Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days: https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/jules-verne/around-the-wor...


Would you consider creating a Goodreads collection/list of all the books in Standard Ebooks? Though I can appreciate if it's too much work to curate or manage.

Edit — oh, is this the list? https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/140305.Standard_Ebooks


We did have one volunteer adding items to Goodreads as we produced them, but the process was manual and very tedious, and the ROI was questionable at best. So IIRC he no longer does that. I'm not against the idea but someone has to volunteer to pick up the task.


Yeah it's a shame that Goodreads stopped giving out API keys, that could have helped with automating the list to some extent at least.


Do you plan to make other browse options? I'd like to browse by popularity or author. There's a bulk download by author, but not in the browse page.


Do you have a plan for ensuring that Standard Ebooks never gets overtaken by profit-seeking spam the way Manybooks was?

Love your project, thank you!


There are no guarantees in life, but as long as I'm at the helm I hope to avoid spam!

We do accept donations because as SE becomes more popular and attracts more contributors, managing the project is approaching the time required for a full-time job.


1. Apart from Project Gutenberg, where do your books come from?

2. When you proofread and fix typos, do you contribute the fixes back upstream?


The vast majority come from PG. When they don't it's another public domain transcription source, like Wikisource, Faded Page, or Project Gutenberg Australia. We usually don't create our own transcriptions.

Our producers can and do contribute back upstream! It's up to the individual producer.


Might be a stupid question but in France books over 50 years of age ended up "free" (to read not to exploit), does it work the same way on all countries? Does it mean we can access books that are over 50 years in your platform or even GP?


In Germany, works become gemeinfrei, a status similar but not exactly equivalent to the public domain, 70 years after the author's death.


Just a note, the line height (leading) when reading a book online seems too small.


Line height is set to the browser/ereader default - it's not something we change as it depends on the font. Font size is also the ereader default, though if viewing in a web browser we increase it slightly.


just curious, not planning...

Would you accept novel translations of non-English classics? The policy suggests yes, but I imagine such a work would fall under US copyright (which the policy forbids).


If by "novel" you mean "modern", then potentially, but they would have to be actually good translations, and released to the public domain via CC0. We only work on public domain books.


Hi @acabal. I'm interesting on a RSS address for your blog. I'm seeing you publish tech stuff. Thanks for all the work you've done and shared.


If you wanted to create an ebook from scratch, how would you do this? Would you write plain html. Would you write markdown, and convert it? What tools would you use?


How do you calculate the reading difficulty?



I wish there was a difficulty for non-native speakers. Flesch-Kincaid score does nothing for the majority of readers if it doesn't distinguish between Night and Day (Woolf) and Shakespeare's Coriolanus. From purely the language's perspectives, non-native speakers will struggle with Coriolanus much more due to outdated language.

Flesch-Kincaid makes little sense to me for books aimed at adults in general.


If I use Lithium Epub Reader Pro on Android, does that support "advanced epub" properly?


Great project thank you!

Have you considered adding A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates to the collection? It's quite the thriller -- every page is a surprise and you will never guess what happens next!


What's your favourite ereader on macOS?


I may be seeing this thorough a “sensitive” lens, but the language on the website feels like it’s bashing Project Gutenberg in order to show SE’s strengths.

> Ebook projects like Project Gutenberg transcribe ebooks and make them available for the widest number of reading devices. Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style manual...

> Other free ebooks (which PG has already been highlighted as being in that category) don’t put much effort into professional-quality typography

It can be a very difficult task to compare without criticism. It’s clear that SE does put care and attention in to all the things mentioned with the goal of creating an excellent edition, I just think that PG has well-earned the respect they have for doing what they do well: getting so many books in to so many hands. As highlighted in the page and in your comments here: PG and SE fill different needs so there is room for both to stand tall.


That doesn't strike me as "bashing", it strikes me as contrasting different focuses.

PG is going for breadth—as many public domain books on as many devices as possible. Standard Ebooks are going for depth—a very quality of typesetting for each book.


Bashing? The goals of each project are different and compliment each other. I am almost positive the folks at PG encourage projects like Standard Ebooks.


This is fantastic!

The flabbergasting quality (or absence thereof) of ebooks I purchase on Amazon is regularly driving me nuts.

Particularly forced justified layout (lacking hypenation, no less) – on a mobile phone. Wtf? Don't get me even started about the ‘typography’.

Great to see there are other people who care about these things.


This is the worst part about libgen as well... no way to navigate or sift through the horribly formatted epubs out there :( tons don't even have a TOC it makes me so sad


Big fan of Standard Ebooks. Another similar project, which I discovered on HN, is Global Grey: https://www.globalgreyebooks.com/index.html


They've been around for a while, and now I notice that their cover art format and ebook page layout look vaguely familiar ... :)


Probably because they are using public domain historical art?


Curious: Since Standard Ebooks uses Project Gutenberg's work, why not contribute back instead of 'fork' to a separate project? Are there obstacles preventing this or making it less than desirable?


Our editions are totally different than what PG does, our goals are different, our technical approach is different, and our collections policy is different. We would rather have our own curated catalog on our own website, than be another edition lost among many in PG's huge catalog.

PG does great work and we rely on them almost exclusively for transcriptions. But we're two friends working towards to different goals.


Would it be possible to contribute back the corrections from proofreading so that others could benefit, if not some of the fancier formatting/fonts/etc.? Or is that prohibitively difficult due to what is effectively a one-way conversion from PG to your own format?


PG does great work and we rely on them almost exclusively for transcriptions

Until I got to this part of the comment I was thinking "Yay, an alternative to PG's godawful OCR transcriptions". Why would you reuse the worst part of Project Gutenberg?


It's a starting point is what I think they're getting at. Preclassification which a human then corrects--we're effectively talking about a labor saving device for an otherwise tedious task.


Can confirm. Think of it like using an AI to do an initial pass at a conference transcription and then correcting the typos, rather than doing the whole transcription by hand. Even if it's only 85% accurate, you've still saved a boatload of time.

When I did "The Valley of Fear" as my first project, the PG text was used as the base, but if I encountered any kind of ambiguity in the text, I consulted at least a half-dozen other versions of the text via Google Books scans for agreement.

The team is also very particular about only using editions that have entered into the public domain. So if the first edition of a book just entered public domain, you must make sure that what you have produced only uses text from the first edition, and that you haven't inadvertently used a later edition as a base that may have included subsequent editorial changes.


So they're actually reading the texts and correcting the mistakes?


Yes - that's one of the main points of the project!


I'm curious what tooling folks use to accelerate this process, has anyone written custom GUI stuff like tesseract box editor?


Hmm, I'm fairly confident a large chunk of this work could be automated (correcting OCR errors). I would be happy to take a shot at this problem as a volunteer, if you're open to the idea?


It’s not, because primary scans have arbitrary quality. Better OCR tech will spare you corrections but not from comparing the scan which is the big fixed cost whether it’s to correct 1000 errors or 10 errors.


I assume creating a brand of their own makes it easier to get donations which allows them to continue and/or grow the project.


RTFA


May I ask why you felt rudeness was appropriate here?

I had read the link and it was not obvious upon reading it why contributing back to Project Gutenberg did not make sense for them. In particular, I did not understand why it would not be desirable to contribute back corrections to the text to the "upstream" and original source so that others could also benefit - I did not see any contradiction between doing so and the goals/benefits stated on their page.


Another library that collects volunteer efforts: https://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=130&ord...

Uneven, but some contributors generate very good quality ebooks, and there's some unique stuff in collections and omnibus editions.


Standard Ebooks is fantastic. The ebooks' quality is amazing. I've been reading Sherlock Homes and am very happy with the experience.

Shameless plug: I build this little tool[0] to make it a little easier to send SE ebooks to your Kindle. Give it a try if you're a Kindle owner.

[0]: https://ktool.io


This seems to be primarily talking about sending web articles.

How does it work with SE Books? Are you able to do it wirelessly while still maintaining the azw3 features given SE's Kindle FAQ indicating it doesn't work with send to Kindle[0].

[0]: https://standardebooks.org/help/how-to-use-our-ebooks#kindle...


You're right. Sending web articles & newsletter has been my primary use-case. I haven't updated my marketing pages yet.

> How does it work with SE Books?

To use KTool with SE Books, you need to install the browser extension[0]. Then you can browse standardebooks.org, find the ebook you love, click KTool > Send to Kindle and it will send the _epub_ version to your device. The quality of the epub ebook is pretty good, actually. Here is a screenshot[1]

> Are you able to do it wirelessly while still maintaining the azw3 features given SE's Kindle FAQ indicating it doesn't work with send to Kindle

Yes. It's less straight-forward though. First, you need to update your settings to "preferAZW3"[2]. Then, instead of sending the epub version, KTool sends a document with a download button (link to the AZW3 ebook file). Tapping that button to download the high-quality ebook to your device. Screenshot[3]

Happy to support if you running into any issues (my email in profile)

[0]: https://ktool.io/install

[1]: https://twitter.com/daniel_nguyenx/status/155152385925356748...

[2]: https://ktool.io/app/extension?settings

[3]: https://twitter.com/daniel_nguyenx/status/155171706234696908...


Very cool. Also, did you add that feature just in response to my question?

As far as the download, is this equivalent to "Method 2" of downloading it via the built-in browser, so it's not in the Kindle Library and won't have a cover, (but it will still remember the reading position)?

Thanks for the support.


> Also, did you add that feature just in response to my question?

Haha. Kinda. My unique selling point has always been the "easiest" way to send stuffs to Kindle. But for ebooks, especially on SE Books, quality is more important than convenience. So I figured it's important to support your request.

> As far as the download, is this equivalent to "Method 2" of downloading it via the built-in browser, so it's not in the Kindle Library and won't have a cover...

Yes, it's equivalent to downloading the .azw3 file via the built-in browser. I checked and my Kindle does recognize the downloaded file as "book", not "document". Also it supports some of the Amazon features that not available in an epub ebook: better typography, Goodreads integration...

But you were right. It won't have a cover unless you plug your Kindle in and perform some Calibre magic


The ebooks here on this website are great. I've been reading Tolstoy's Confessions from there and it's been a delight.


Publish date should be standard information available on every layer of the UI where the book title is shown. Otherwise this is excellent and very much appreciated.


This is a not-uncommon request. The problem is that the publication date for many older books is unclear or unknown. Was Romeo and Juliet published in 1597? It certainly appeared in print, but that edition was so riddled with errors that scholars think it was pirated. Was it published in 1599? A better edition certainly appeared in print then, but that edition too was incomplete and filled with errors. Then was it published in 1609?...

This is a common theme for a surprising number of books, even going in to the modern era. For that reason we're only concerned with the publication date of our own editions. Interested readers can come to conclusions about the original publication date of particular books using their own research.


I agree with OP and think it may be better to show a publication year on every title. (Of course, the site is open source so I could experiment with this myself).

I'd push back on your example and say it doesn't matter if you say 1597, 1599, or 1609—any of those provides quite a lot of information to the reader and vastly more information that not providing any date at all. I find it a bit hard to scan because some of the books seem to be from the Roman era, others 1800's, and having an approximate publication year would be very helpful.

But again, I could be wrong, just suspect OP is right and putting years frequently would be a decent improvement.


Agreed, also with OP. I'm not sure why Alex didn't mention that the original publication date (or date range) is a standard item in the `content.opf` file that is part of every ebook.

This data is important to me, too, when choosing ebook—e.g., reading Dickens or some other prolific author in order of publication. The edge case for non-inclusion is a bit of an outlier–itself readily solved by using range, as noted (and producers already can do a fair bit of research when producing an SE volume!). (Conversely, the date of publication of the SE edition is of no interest to me at all...)

For personal interest, I maintain a "cumulative index" of the SE corpus which includes the original publication date, scraped from the `content.opf` file. Anyone interested is welcome to have a look: https://www.sudalyph.org/seci/


Then maybe a range could be a good idea? "Publication date: Likely sometime between 1597-1609."


Why not 1597-1609?


I love this project. Just became a patron. Thanks for all the hard work and commitment over the years.


Is there a set of standard open-source textbooks for k-12 levels? If not, can we make it happen?


Yes, CK12. [1] Fun fact: it's run by Neeru Khosla.

1: https://www.ck12.org/student/


Completely off topic, but the name “standard” makes me think of a hilarious Bob Mortimer story on “World I Lie To You?” where he accidentally set his house on fire as a child with a box of “Standard Fireworks”, which he assumed would be very basic and safe because of the name.

https://youtu.be/Rqmd39GdDww


Lots of philology this weekend... "Standard" is the symbol you place up high, to "stand hard [firm]", a mark to behold, as if - then - a parameter.

So, 'Standard Ebooks' is read as "model ebooks, exemplary of how they should be made", and the same for the fireworks... In spite of David Mitchell who wanted to joke on "standard" as "common" - which is an overly optimistic deviation, and Mitchell fumbled there, while remaining a good support act for international treasure the Bob Mortimer, the "Standard" (of himself).


But standards can be low or high. Can one firmly stand on unfirm ground?


> low or high

Well, original standards are those of the armies - which compete, so relativity is implied. There is both selection and election there.


TCP would suggest that the answer is yes, though it may not always be obvious how.



This is a great project. It's really prodded me to reread some classics, and read more than a few I've never tried to tackle before.

I really should donate a few dollars to the project to show my appreciation and to try to help (in a small way) keep it going.


Wonderful project! I'm working on something similar for a different language.

How closely do you work with Distributed Proofreaders? [1]

[1]: https://www.pgdp.net/c/


As a long-time PGDP volunteer and a some-time Standard Ebook one, I would say the connection isn't close. The "distributed proofreaders" at the wonderful PGDP put zillions of hours into cleaning up and formatting books which are then fed to Project Gutenberg for distribution. Standard Ebooks picks up the PG books and re-formats them to their standards.

Back in the day I was the "post-processor" for a number of PGDP books. This meant I received the page scan files which had already been through five (5!) separate passes by volunteer proofers and compiled them into a single etext in (initially) HTML, and later Ebook.

The fact that Standard Ebooks finds typos in PG books (and they do, and kudos to them for their work) simply underscores the huge difficulty of cleaning OCR'd text. In the example on the linked Standard Ebooks front page, the typo of "tne" for "the" is a very typical "scanno" as they are called at PGDP. Both the software and the wetware have overlooked the missing vertical stem of the letter "h".

However, that particular scanno should never have reached distribution at PG, because the last two volunteer passes at PGDP _require_ the volunteer to apply spellcheck before committing a page as complete, plus the post-processor should use spellcheck on the finalized book. That example typo must have come into the PG library at least 20 years ago, or else it didn't come through PGDP.

From experience I can say that as an organization Standard Ebooks are much more tightly managed than most open-source volunteer outfits, and if you can fit into their system, you can put in very satisfying hours building books there. (Despite having formatted some (I thought) handsome works for PGDP, I couldn't meet the standards of Standard Ebooks, or maybe I was burned out, and didn't stay with them.)


PGDP is an incredible project. We mostly work on the transcriptions they produce and we specifically avoid creating our own transcriptions, because PGDP already has such a good system in place. When people ask for a new transcription we point them to PGDP instead.

(We have occasionally done our own transcriptions, since in the past few years the US public domain has started expanding again. In these cases we may transcribe a popular book ourselves to have it ready at the start of the public domain year, instead of waiting for PDGP's process.)


Wow, talk about the most boring title that turned out to be the best project I've read about in a while!

Literally thought it was about standard ebook structure (TOC, index, etc). Turned out to be Ebooks Brought Up a Notch!


I appreciate this project very much and constantly wish ebook standards at the big commercial publishing houses were even half as good as SE's.


Huh. Choosing a book at somewhat random - Mike by P.G. Wodehouse - neither the compatible or advanced (experimental?) epubs are working terribly well in Bluefire Reader on my iPad. I might poke at this with Calibre. Or if there are recommendations for another epub reader, with the caveat that I need annotations.

It looks like the workflow is per book. That ... seems odd.


iBooks is at the moment the best ebook renderer for iPad, hands down. If there are specific issues that look very bad on Bluefire Reader, please send a note to our mailing list with details so we can take a look!


Calibre actually does horrible things to the HTML source that hides in each epub. While Standard Ebooks do promote awesome HTML. If you run Calibre on it, it's ruined.

An epub is just a zip file. Open it up, look inside, see for yourself.


Isn't this only if you use Calibre to do a conversion on the epub?

Calibre can just be used as a library, right?


OK, I checked. Calibre did almost nothing to the epubs I downloaded and added to the Calibre library and then sent to my device from there (a KOBO Libra H2O). The only thing it did was to add a file `./META-INF/calibre_bookmarks.txt` to the zip archive. The HTML was completely untouched. Now obviously if you do some conversion it's going to be another mattter and it's possible that the Calibre checks for some things it considers incompatible with its reader and in those cases alters the HTML, but I didn't find anything like that in the books I checked.

Admittedly I don't think that Calibre should touch the contents of an ebook zip file without specific action from the user (such as requesting a conversion)... but what it does doesn't seem to be problematic.


Can you explain or link to some resources on what calibre does with ebooks?


Their website is terrible (this was the best resource there I found: https://manual.calibre-ebook.com/#customizing-calibre-s-e-bo...), but the Calibre software itself is really powerful, letting you do things like:

* Read eBooks in just about any popular or semi-popular format

* Manage your library

* Convert books to and from any of the supported formats, specifying details of that conversion like tables of content, typography, chapter headings, etc.

* Edit book metadata

* With a plugin, strip DRMed ebooks of their protection so you can use them on other devices

It's just a one-stop GUI for doing just about any sort of ebook maintenance/library management/cleanup. Helpful if your source materials are free or pirated, or if your device is unsupported at the major ebook stores. Lets you take a Kindle-only ebook, for example, get rid of the DRM, rip it to a more standard format, and send it to some obscure ereader that you have.


I think you misunderstood my question. The question was in regards to this sentence from the op: > Calibre actually does horrible things to the HTML source that hides in each epub.


I did indeed misunderstand. I'm sorry :)


This is really great, and a fantastic complement to PG.

I'm a bit surprised that pdf downloads are not proposed. Given the (lovely!) emphasis on typography, it would seem the natural option. The epub formats are a bit foreign to me. The html version is alright, and you can "print" it with the web browser, but it does not produce a perfect pdf.


If you are an avid reader with and e-reader you sort of start to hate pdf and it feels annoying if you follow some links to an ebook and you get… a pdf.

Still, for the tablet readers of course it could be a nice extra option, I agree. It takes some effort though.


Interesting... I am an avid reader (and an obsessive bibliophile!) but I have the opposite reaction to yours regarding file formats. Pdf is perfection, then I like djvu and then well-formatted plain text files. Epubs are a thing of horror, that invariably botches all the formulas and destroys the flow of the pages.

It has gotten to the point where if something is in epub format, I don't even bother to download it.


I guess you don't read on smaller device. Kindle, for example, with 6-7" screen, is not going to read A4-formatted PDF well at all. On phone, too. A4-sized PDF only works well on 10" device or larger.


Sounds more a problem with the kindle and its software than with the pdf format itself. Books are typically set at around 65 characters per line. This is perfectly readable even on a small phone screen, in landscape orientation and without margins. Think about it: a typical phone is taller than the width of a paperback book. The space is there, if you cannot get it to work it's a software problem.


> This is perfectly readable even on a small phone screen, in landscape orientation and without margins.

That's a lot of condition to be perfectly readable.

EPUB is readable even without all those conditions because it's reflowable.

(And personally I hate using landscape mode on my phone/Kindle)


Your perfectly readable isn’t everyone’s perfectly readable, and the benefit of ePubs is that they’re reflowable, unlike PDF. Having said that, why don’t you try our ePubs? We spend a lot of time on them to make sure that they’re not “things of horror” :)


Hmm I read everything on PocketBook HD3, perhaps that is where we differ?


Surely. I've never used an "ebook" platform. Just laptops, tablets and phones. There are very good pdf viewers on each of those.


Ah yes this explains it. I very much prefer epaper over other screens for reading, also I enjoy my reading device to be just that, a reading device (with a battery that lasts me weeks to months).


A bit late here, but by any chance, does anyone know of a similar site for non-english high-quality ebooks? Specifically, I'd really like to read some french classics in the original french. I know Project Gutenberg, but quality is variable compared to Standard Ebooks.



Thanks, will have a look!


Can anyone recommend a high quality ebook reader app for Android, that would be compatible with one or more of the formats this site offers?

Also what is this "advanced epub" format they have? I can't see where they describe the actual difference with "compatible epub".


> Can anyone recommend a high quality ebook reader app for Android, that would be compatible with one or more of the formats this site offers?

I use [Librera Reader](https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.foobnix.pro.pdf.reader/] and [Voice](https://f-droid.org/en/packages/de.ph1b.audiobook/) for audio books.

[KO-Reader](https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.koreader.launcher.fdroid...) is also recommended, but the one above I found easier to use, though both seem highly recommended.

I found these Android apps from this [post on r/androidapps](https://old.reddit.com/user/Jackie7610/comments/lr5gag/list_...)

Basically just look for epub, as that is the open standard - though really it doesn't matter if you use [Calibre](https://calibre-ebook.com/) as it can convert between them, but you have to check the types supported yourself...

> Also what is this "advanced epub" format they have? I can't see where they describe the actual difference with "compatible epub".

They have [an explanation here](https://standardebooks.org/help/how-to-use-our-ebooks#which-...), but I would say, when in doubt, just go with the compatible one.

Besides, it's just a book, I doubt anything will explode if you use the wrong the version...


I've been using MoonReader (https://moondownload.com/) for years now and it's great, with an integration with the Gutenberg project. I also love the gestual shortcuts to control brightness, and the treasure thrive of options.

The "advanced ebook" is not displaying the cover, I'll reach to the dev, but the compatible version is ok.


I second this suggestion since I heavily annotate my books. The free version has ads but can be blocked via custom DNS. I've written a bit about how I annotate here: https://randombutinteresting.me/2022/03/11/annotating-in-moo...


An underrated choice is Google Play Books. Share an epub file to it and Google will upload it and make it available on the app and on play.google.com/books, with page position synced and everything else you’d expect


The one with the best UX I found is Lithium Reader, but it only supports epub. For a versatile reader, I use ReadEra, which can open more formats than I care about. Both are free and have no ads.


I would recommend to not read most of these originals. New editions modernize the language and are well worth the money to buy or read at subscription services.


A counterpoint: reading older versions strengthens your ability to read across different eras. If you rely on reading versions converted to modern usage your scope narrows drastically.

In any case, older translations aren't insurmountable. Here's a translation of plato's _Republic_ by Benjamin Jowett, which was started c.1856.

To my eye it looks comfortably readable.

    I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston, that I might offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of the Thracians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant Polemarchus the son of Cephalus chanced to catch sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by the cloak behind, and said: Polemarchus desires you to wait.


Standard Ebooks does modernize language; it's step 14 on the production guide[1].

[1] https://standardebooks.org/contribute/producing-an-ebook-ste...


It changes things like to-day to today which doesn’t help much if you struggle with old grammar.


Not being familiar with the literature world, are the "new editions" typically standardized, or are there many competing new editions for a given title? How do you tell which one(s) are the higher quality new editions?


There is no standard as far as I know. Anybody can get hold of ISBN series so there is a torrent of releases for old literature.


"modernize the language"? People still buy Chaucer in old (or middle, whatever) English.


Poe too, I actually had a phrase about poetry in my original comment that I removed cause not generally interesting.


The page links to Google Groups as "mailing list". Is this the only option for errors reporting when GitHub option doesn't fit the problem?


It is a mailing list: I only interact with it via email. But if you don’t want to use that or Github you can find editor emails at https://standardebooks.org/about#masthead.


@cabal Great project! What tooling do you use to assess and improve the accessibility of your ebooks?


This project is amazing. newly acquired patronage. Thank you for your dedication and hard work over the years.


Sad this only has 9/70 patrons??


That’s the latest drive. You can see our full patrons list at the bottom of https://standardebooks.org/about.


What would be a good affordable ebook reader to enjoy this books?


These books should be usable on any Kindle or Kobo device. Just be sure download the appropriate format for the device - the download page on this site will tell you which one you need for your device.

Personally, I use a Kobo Libra 2. Not the cheapest ereader at $179 USD, but I went with it due to USB-C, IPX8, and support for the third-party KOReader viewer.


I recently need cheap one and got Pocketbook Touch HD 3. My expectations were low but it turned out to be great. It runs their locked down linux distro but it had Dropbox sync and i installed KOreader on it. Kinda everything i needed.


I have a KOBO Libra H20, it is very good. I loaded KOReader on to it which adds functionality (https://github.com/koreader/koreader).


Thank you for this! I'm reading Tarzan of the Apes


Amazing! Love this!

How do you choose the books to added to your library?



This is important preservation work. Thank you!


I know it's not a library in the conventional sense. But it would be a bit proper to separate things in to fiction and non-fiction at the very top level.


Perhaps not the very top level, but on the https://standardebooks.org/ebooks "Browse Ebooks" page, both `fiction` and `nonfiction` are readily applied as filters. Easily done.


This is quite an interesting poject.


This is great but want to clarify - Kindles do support Epub now. Which is great. Because I love the Kindle ecosystem and I really like a project like this.

How do you handle translated works? Like The Communist Manifesto was written in German. Would something like Death in Venice be in the works too?


They only fake support epub - when you use "send to Kindle" to send an epub, it gets quietly converted by Amazon to either mobi or azw3 (I don't know exactly which of those two but it seems like azw3 is more likely). I assume they use kindlegen to do the conversion, even though Calibre does better azw3 conversion. If you're using SE ebooks on a Kindle, you should simply download our premade azw3 files as I guarantee they'll be better than whatever Amazon does to an epub sent over email.

We accept translations into English, but the translations need to have been published before 1927 for them to be in the US public domain. See our collections policy: https://standardebooks.org/contribute/collections-policy

The Communist Manifest is already in our catalog: https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/karl-marx_friedrich-engels...


Is the tool to convert to azw3 part of the toolkit available to contributors, or do you perform that conversion in-house after the volunteer has made the epub?


Our source format is epub, and the conversion is part of our toolkit. Azw3 conversion is done using Calibre: https://github.com/standardebooks/tools


Amazing


Bookmarked. Another reminder we are drowning in information on the web. There's no excuse for not becoming a better version of yourself due to The Internet. I will certainly read some of the books hosted on this site.


I’m recently trying to limit my internet use to such projects - can you share any other bookmarks that you saved?


The Kindle FAQ [0] is interesting:

> Why don’t you provide mobi files in addition to azw3 files?

> Standard Ebooks is a small, volunteer-led project, and we don’t have the time or resources to support a second proprietary file type just because Amazon can’t get its act together. We have time for one or the other, and azw3 is the technically superior format that provides the better reading experience.

> Why can’t I use “Send to Kindle” to send an azw3 file to my Kindle?

> We don’t know! You’d think that Amazon would allow you to send the very file format it invented to its own devices. But Amazon hasn’t made it possible to send azw3 files via “Send to Kindle,” even though they surely could. You should complain to Amazon, or vote with your wallet and buy a better ereader.

[0] https://standardebooks.org/help/how-to-use-our-ebooks#kindle...


As I'm fond of saying, Kindle is an ecosystem invented by people who hate books. It's a pity they're the first thing many people think of when they hear "ebooks."


I remember thinking when Kindle was first announced: "Have they ever heard of _Farenheit 451_?!?!" :/


Caliber's maintainer has similarly pithy remarks about Amazon if you ever check the MobileRead forums.

Amazon should officially be supporting EPUB as the send-to-Kindle option now, so that might no longer be necessary. You might still have an issue with missing covers, though.


This is technically true, however when you do that they simply convert the epub to mobi on the backend, which is even worse.


I'm suspicious whether they're still using MOBI on the backend, given that they sent me an email about it a few days ago when I tried to share a mobi file to my mother's Kindle. The email is below:

---

Dear Kindle Customer,

Thank you for using the Send to Kindle service to send personal documents to your Kindle library. We noticed that the following document(s), sent by you at HH:MM AM on Sun, Jul DD, 2022 GMT are in MOBI (.mobi, .azw) formats: <<REDACTED>>

We wanted to let you know that starting August 2022, you’ll no longer be able to send MOBI (.mobi, .azw) files to your Kindle library. Any MOBI files already in your library will not be affected by this change. MOBI is an older file format and won’t support the newest Kindle features for documents. Any existing MOBI files you want to read with our most up-to-date features for documents will need to be re-sent in a compatible format.

Compatible formats now include EPUB (.epub), which you can send to your library using your Send to Kindle email address. We’ll also be adding EPUB support to the free Kindle app for iOS and Android devices and the Send to Kindle desktop app for PC and Mac.

If you have any questions, please visit our help page or contact our Customer Service team.

Regards, Amazon Kindle Support

---

I would think they might be converting it to some other format? Otherwise, why yank the feature to send direct MOBIs anymore?


The technical decisions Kindle makes are shrouded in obscurity, both in logic and in execution...


I have to assume it's at least a precursor to rolling out broader support for EPUB.

Unfortunately, I am using a ~12 year old Kindle which isn't going to be seeing any updates, so discontinuing send-to-Kindle for MOBI will basically just mean I can't use that feature anymore.


Any reason why you haven't upgraded? I keep an old Kindle around as well, but just for having a physical Kindle registered to my account so that I can download the books I purchase and remove the DRM. All my actual reading is done on a Kobo.

At some point Amazon sent me an email that my Kindle would soon lost storefront access and offered me some kind of voucher for an upgrade (like 30% off and a $40 ebook credit). Surely with all that you could've grabbed a new model during the Prime Day sales for next to nothing?


Mainly I just don't see the point in upgrading when my existing device (currently) works perfectly fine. It's less about cost and more about waste, and good old fashioned stubbornness. Most of my books are physical; I mainly use the Kindle for reading free ebooks (like those from Standard Ebooks) or I will occasionally buy an ebook when ordering physically is impractical for whatever reason. So any slight annoyances that come from using an old device don't really bother me.


Hey I’m just curious about what you said here. I’ve got Kindle Paperwhite but I was thinking of moving away from Amazon in the future and buying Kobo for example when the upgrade is due. My only worry was money spent on Kindle books. Will I be able to move the purchased books easily to Kobo? So they look natively? Thanks!


The challenge will be removing the DRM from your Kindle books. You may need to Google around a bit, but here's a high-level of what you need to do:

1) Seek out a tool called "DeDRM". The original plugin is no longer supported, so you may want to search on GitHub for the fork from NoDRM, which is still maintained.

2) Download Calibre if you don't already have it and install the DeDRM plugin.

3) You now need to get your books from Amazon into a format that DeDRM is able to crack. One method is to download the Kindle for PC app, but this method can be finnicky because Amazon keeps changing the DRM schema to avoid being cracked and you may have to track down an older version of the install. The easier method is to pull the books off your Paperwhite itself. So inside of Calibre, configure the DeDRM tool and enter in your Paperwhite's serial number (this is needed because the serial number is used as part of the encryption).

4) Finally, try importing one of your Kindle Paperwhite books into Calibre, and try opening the book using Calibre's ebook viewer. If you can read the book (i.e. the text is not scrambled), the decryption was successful. You can then load the rest of your collection. You should now have a collection of DRM-free AZWs.

5) The final step to getting the books over to your Kobo is converting them to a compatible format. Calibre has a built-in conversion tool for AZW to EPUB, however some people complain that the built-in tool can mess with the formatting. You may wish to download an additional plugin called KindleUnpack, which will produce an EPUB or MOBI file that is closer to the source material.

You can try all of this before getting a Kobo to make sure that it works. I've set this up for various family members who all uses Kindle exclusively, primarily so that we can share books with each other, but also just to make sure that everyone has a good backup of their collection.


Thank you for taking time writing all this up. It all worked. It’s brilliant. I will start checking out other readers soon. Thanks again.


I can't speak for him, but my old devices are a pair of Kindle DXs. AFAICT there is no real upgrade for those.


They're converting it to AZW3 actually. Which makes them not allowing AZW3 in Send-to-Kindle even more baffling.


In terms of switching e-readers I currently do have a kindle voyage, which I love, but I am increasingly worried about what happens when it reaches end of life... Does anyone have recommendations for a similar e-reader that has the things I love about it: e-ink display, and buttons for page turning instead of a touchscreen, and have said buttons on both sides of the device? The Kindle Oasis and a few others I've seen only have buttons on one side and having to rotate the device 180 degrees and wait for the display to flip every time I want to change hands sounds like a nightmare. It might just be because I'm left handed and therefore am more comfortable using both hands for things than most people, but the lopsided designs Amazon and some other manufacturers are using just look so hobbled to me.


The Barnes & Noble Nook Glowlight 4 has an e-ink display and physical buttons on both sides. This is not a recommendation. I have never held one in my hand and the last time I had anything to do with the Nook ecosystem was over 10 years ago. I just know it exists and meets those 2 criteria.


Thanks for the pointer, I'll check that out. It is a relief at least to know someone is making something that meets those criteria. I have no experience with hardware but I use my kindle so much I was legit considering buying an e-ink display and hacking together my own device to replace it if I couldn't find something that met those criteria


I bought a Kobo Libra 2 recently and it's fantastic. It only has buttons on one side, but the display is fast - it typically adjusts before I finish rotating it.


But I don't want to rotate it. I switch hands very often, and in situations where rotating it might be uncomfortable (i.e. when holding other things).

EDIT: to clarify, it isn't just about the waiting for me. It's about the physical action being massively inconvenient compares to just shifting hands


Okay, I get what you're saying now. As an alternative, you could hold it in landscape mode - then you can press the buttons with both hands without having to rotate it.


I suppose that is a possibility. I understand what I'm looking for is kind of specific, I suppose this is in some ways similar to more and more phones ditching the headphone jack and sd card slot... The more companies all follow each other in the design space the less points of differentiation there are for consumers to choose on


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