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Quantum Physics textbooks on Kindle or other e-books

  1. Oct 10, 2015 #1

    andrewkirk

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    For two books that have been recommended today on PhysForums, when I followed the links to look them up (both Amazon links) I saw they were available on Kindle as well as hard copy. This seems to me to be a new development, as I can't remember seeing any e-book versions of technical mathematical texts a year ago.

    If anybody has experience of using such texts on Kindle or other e-books, I'd be interested to hear how you found it. Do they render the equations and the typesetting satisfactorily? How do they cope with re-flowing when you make the font larger or smaller, and what does that do to equations? It's only texts with lots of equations in that I'm interested in here. Representing texts that are mostly prose is no challenge.

    I'm not expecting the e-book version to be as good as the real thing but, given that they're much cheaper and that one could get them instantly rather than waiting for weeks (I'm not in the US), it may be a worthwhile tradeoff as long as the page rendering is good enough.

    Thank you
     
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  3. Oct 11, 2015 #2

    bcrowell

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    The last time I checked, the kindle format had basically zero support for math. The only way to put an equation in a book was as an image, and that mechanism was extremely poor, e.g., I think every equation had to be displayed (no inline math, because images can't be inline).

    The epub format is supported by Nook, iPad, and unlike the kindle format it's an open format. The epub 3 format defines good math support using mathml. However, the last time I checked there were no actual devices that supported this feature.

    If others have more up to date info on this, I'd be interested to hear whether things have gotten better.

    Keep in mind that commercial ebooks have DRM, which means you don't really own the book. When styles in readers change and you no longer own this particular make and model of reader, you will no longer be able to read the book you paid for. This is creepy.
     
  4. Oct 11, 2015 #3

    Fredrik

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    Math in pdf files on my Kindle DX looks better than it does on paper. Not sure about other file types.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2015 #4

    bcrowell

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    Aren't most math and science textbooks formatted such that if you view it as a pdf, a page is much too large to fit on a screen? As a random example that I had handy, Stewart's Calculus is 18 cm x 24 cm, with some of the text in a very small font (looks like 8 pt).

    Or are you talking about books where the pdf was produced with a different design than the design of the dead-trees version?

    Do publishers even sell math and science textbooks in pdf format? They're very hung up on DRM, and AFAIK the DRM on pdf files is trivial to remove if you have the ability to read the pdf at all.
     
  6. Oct 12, 2015 #5

    Fredrik

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    A Kindle DX has a 9.7" screen. That's enough to view most books comfortably. Books with larger pages can be a bit of a problem, and so can articles that are meant to be printed on A4 paper (or the corresponding US size). What I usually do with those is to just turn the device sideways, to zoom in on half the page.
     
  7. Oct 16, 2015 #6

    vanhees71

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    Usually, ebooks with math in another format than pdf are awful to read. The formulae are totally skrewed up! pdf works great for me on my desktops, laptops, and Android tablet. I don't have an ebook reader like kindle or tolino. Otherwise, I'm so oldfashioned to still prefer books on paper, particularly textbooks.
     
  8. Oct 16, 2015 #7

    Fredrik

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    Computers, tablets and e-book readers have two big advantages over paper:

    1. You don't have to use one of your hands or some heavy object just to keep the damn thing from closing.
    2. You can carry your entire library with you.

    Neither of these is especially important to a person who only reads novels, but they are important to us. That first one is extremely important to me, because I find it really annoying to have to hold a book open with my left hand as I'm writing stuff down with my right hand.

    I've seen the complaint that text is easier to read on paper, but that's only true if you're comparing paper to backlit computer screens. It's no more difficult to read text on an e-ink screen than on paper...unless the screen is too small. If it is, you will have to enlarge the text, and then you will find it kind of annoying that you can't see the whole page at once.

    The Kindle has a big disadvantage: It's much too difficult to go back to an earlier page to find out what some definition or theorem says. The procedure is so frustrating that what I usually do is get up from where I'm sitting, walk over to my computer and do the search there.

    The Kindle and other e-ink readers have a major advantage over tablets: Battery life. You can use it for weeks without recharging. The exact time depends on how you use it of course.
     
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