Kindle Platform -- UPDATE

UPDATE: We hear you loud and clear -- you want an .epub format (we do too). So we're off this very moment piecing one together. Give us a week or two, but we're on it. Check back here for updates.

Thank you

sismeiro's picture


Just to tell that I am glad that Linux Journal is available in mobi so I can read it on my Kindle. I though that I shouln't renew Linux Journal because the digital format wasn't available for my reading device and I don't like to read on computers.

Continue like this and I will continue to support the best Linux magazine available since ever.

Luis Sismeiro

Can't wait for e-pub

Longtime Reader since Issue #1's picture

My favorite platform for reading is the Kindle. I have used a BB Storm and iPhone in the past to read books and magazines, but I far prefer the Kindle, even in black-and-white. Maybe I would change my mind if I had an iPad (I'm too cheap), but I don't think so because it is a lot heavier and fades in the sun. I just tried the Septermber 2011 PDF edition on my Kindle and it was readable, but I definitely missed the ability to jump around between articles. I am definitely looking forward to the e-pub format!

kindle and system administration

wmihalo's picture

I have seen a number of magazines and journals move to electronic digital copies. In most cases, the results have been disappointing because you really need to rethink the electronic format. What was good for a layout on paper is really not good for an electronic format.

About a year ago I moved all of my reference materials from paper to my kindle. This worked out quite well. If something occurred in a machine room, I could just grab my kindle and work at a console and resolve the problem.

Migrating to an electronic image that is "kindlefied" gives Linux Journal, the opportunity to hang around on a kindle and provide some excellent reference. My paper copies of Linux Journal are read and then placed on a shelf at home. I would prefer having all of Linux Journal in my Kindle because it would provide excellent reference material.

Finally, think about the way Linux Journal as a magazine is done. Paper copies come out, are read (along with the ads of course) and then placed on a shelf for reference. Place the ads in your Kindle version. System administrators read ads too and keep them for reference. Just think what it would be like to have system administrators carrying around all of your digital copies of Linux Journal on a Kindle for reference!

One more thing. When system administrators work in a machine room there is a really severe problem. Frequently it can be a power outage or a network outage. Both of these conditions would prevent me from going online. Also machine rooms are so well built that you can rarely get a 3G or 4G signal to go out to the Internet.

File formats

pitasa's picture

Pdf is a nice compromise, it's easily readable on many different devices, laptops and mobile devices allow reading almost anywhere. Contrary to what some people are finding, for me, pdf is readable on the smaller screen of a mobile devices, the column layout is suitable provided the columns are narrow enough. I don't mean that there are no other formats that could potentially be better.
Regarding the move to html? I'm not sure, don't assume that everyone has an always-on internet connection, mobile internet is sometimes on, more often off, especially whilst traveling. Consider your off-line readers.
The specialist magazine paper emulator software isn't really the way to go in my opinion, it's restrictive in too many ways, I haven't seen one yet with a user interface anywhere near useable, the one you have used is equally clunky, I'm not sure of your definition of 'enhanced', to me it seems to have less functionality than pdf, some limitations are: zoom doesn't preserve across pages, cursor keys have different functions depending on where in the page you are - scroll down or change to a different page (on a slow connection it seems to be a random page by the way), copying a piece of text out and putting it into a search engine isn't even possible. Annotation? I know you're not supposed to scribble in your books, but this isn't a book anymore. Oh and it's lower resolution. Some people may like the emulated magazine, If it were the only option, I wouldn't be re-subscribing.

Consider sticking to a selection of standard file formats and let the platform itself decide how the interaction works. Remember that the interface shouldn't get in the way of the content.
Thanks for an interesting read, I do look forward to it.

Backwards: Mag format not friendly to digital devices

RO's picture

Seems you are getting the message from a lot of folks who think as I do, that portrait columnar article layout is not suitable for viewing on typical ereader type devices. This, and the cumbersome PDF format (slow to load and render, if at all), is precisely why I declined a month ago to renew my digital subscription.

Your regular website offers the articles (after an understandable delay of a few months to avoid cannibalizing your sales) - why not expand on what you already have? I had resigned myself to waiting for the website's html versions of articles to become available, and glancing through the printed versions on the news stand in case something really compelling would induce me to buy more paper (a lifelong habit I am trying to break as our house is overrun with dead tree archives).

Now this will be a lot less appealing to even try to keep up with if you don't heed our requests, and come up with a digital-friendly format. With all the other Linux-oriented HTML-formatted news sites already on the web, I can use up all my free time reading them, and never miss LJ - please don't make it come down to that.

We hear you loud and clear

Carlie Fairchild's picture

We're on it. .epub format on the way. Stay tuned...

As a side note I'd like to say it's folks like you (and others here) who make a difference. We've read and absorbed every comment-- good and bad that has been posted about our transition and we're truly taking suggestions to heart. When people such as yourself post constructive feedback for us, we're eager to listen. So thank you for helping us make Linux Journal better. I sincerely appreciate it.

Now we're off to make this .epub format happen. More soon.

All the best,

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.

On platforms and file formats

prm's picture

I second the request for EPUB format. With a digital edition, not only you'll have to support different file formats (only PDFs won't do, I'm afraid. O'Reilly gets it right IMO), you'll have to consider the layout for different screen sizes and portrait/landscape modes. What works for a 7" tablet might not work for a 4" phone.

On the not so small screen (4" WVGA) of my android phone I don't even bother with PDFs. What works best for me, in Aldiko, are EPUB single column texts, preferably with resizable graphics, in portrait mode.

LJ PDFs are well suited for printing but I do not like to read them on the laptop screen as I have to constantly go down and up and down on each page to read each column of text. I have yet to buy a tablet, but it seems that reading PDFs is not without problems, so I guess alternative formats are required.

On the move to digital only, at least you didn't pull a BYTE on us. I'd rather have LJ in digital than no LJ at all.

ABOUT Open Source, but not FOR Open Source

Anonymous's picture

I can't even save in any format other than pdf - a format that is really just a copy of what would go to paper. The enhanced version can only be downloaded with Google Gears, yet Gears is not supported on Firefox since 3.6 and is depreciated in any case. Not everyone wants to buy an iPad.

The pdf is useless. The enhanced version is useless. The magazine is now ...

Mobi +1

TaffyDownUnder's picture

I have a kindle DX and currently I have on it a large collecting of books from O'Riely, Manning and Pragmatic along with math and physics text books; most in mobi and pdf. All work really fine. I also have a number of issues of PragPub a magazine/newsletter from Pragmatic which comes in mobi, ePub and pdf and they look great on the Kindles too.

I also occasionally use the Kindle software on my Android phone to view mobi documents and it works well enough given the constraints of the platform.

I've tried reading the PDF version of LJ on the Kindle and it doesn't really work. The reason is that it is tied to much to the layout of the printed version. If you maintain the attitude that you're doing a paper publication electronically I don't see much of a future for LJ. You have to play to the strengths and cater for the weaknesses of the new medium you have chosen. ANd this currently means that you have to support multi-format on multi-devices not to do so will limit your market and loose you current subscribers.


My personal reading habit...

billz's picture

Carlie, I have (1) several workstation computers, (2) a Kindle, and (3) a Samsung Galaxy S2 cell-phone/computer, and of all of them, my PREFERRED reader is the Samsung. It has a large enough screen even for my 54 year old eyes to read comfortably, and I have all of my eBooks on it. On the Samsung, I use the following programs to read with:

1. Kindle for Android - Good, but the UI could use a great deal of improvement.

2. Aldiko Pro - EXCELLENT as in WAAAY better than the Kindle.

3. Firefox Browser - Good, but it could be improved, especially in the functionality that reformats a page after increasing the font size.

Nothing beats the portability of the device - it's a great trade-off between size and portability while adequately displaying readable text.

PDF is wrong for small devices...

billz's picture

I think the best solution is good old HTML as it gives the device a fighting chance to properly format the magazine text and images.

If the printed magazine is gone - so should the thinking behind what "looks good" in print.

An all HTML world sounds LOVELY

Carlie Fairchild's picture

I don't necessarily disagree with you here. We're exploring ways to move even better/deeper in to the digital world and many of us bring up all-HTML ways to do so often. We're exploring with digital formatting constantly these days and your input is actually really, really valuable so thanks for taking the time with me here.

Honestly, in my ideal world there would never be mobile apps or things like sites optimized for any device. If everything would just be in standardized HTML, the world would be a better place. But apparently us folks who think so are in the minority.

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.

Ask O'Reilly for pointers

ewalstad's picture

I use my Kindle almost exclusively for reading, and making notes in, my technical books. O'Reilly had done a fine job with their ebooks, including screen shots and code blocks.

Agreed -- books look great on the Kindle

Carlie Fairchild's picture

Thanks for the feedback and I agree, books and many of O'Reilly's which do feature code do indeed look great on the Kindle. In fact, the Kindle is how I personally consume most of my books these days. It's breaking up the magazine format that is particularly difficult to convert to Kindle (if you've looked at PC Mag's Kindle edition for instance, you'll see it's less than optimal... this is the same struggle we are having when we do Kindle tests). But yes, I hear you and thank you for your suggestion. Keep 'em coming! :)

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.

Why Keep a Magazine Layout?

Anonymous's picture

Why keep the layout of a magazine when LJ is no longer printed? No one is going to output the PDF to hard copy, so keeping the original layout makes zero sense.

Get away from the magazine/multi-column layout and maybe then your content would work better on devices that support the epub format. Kindle does not support epub, even though epub is html in a wrapper to provide portability.

I've been waiting for Linux Journal to support epub for years, ever since I became subscriber to the digital edition. PDF is fine on large displays, but people are increasingly using portable devices, like readers, laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones. Leisure reading is not an activity that many want to do at a computer. Ignore this and you will lose many subscribers.


I'll be printing the PDF (if I ever get it)

Anonymous's picture

I for one will be printing the PDF. I'm a paper copy junkie since I get headaches from reading screens too much. I have no desire to sit at a PC any longer than I have to for work. I read my magazine in my easy chair, thumbing through the pages. I think Linux Journal should supply all paper subscribers with Ipads so we can read it in our easy chairs. As a long time (over 10 year) subscriber, I won't be renewing for a digital magazine.

Printing something that should be in print to begin with?

Trent's picture

The only way I'd be satisfied with printing the PDFs is if Linux Journal reimbursed me for the cost of my paper and ink, since I paid for a print subscription to begin with.

"Electronic version" effectively equals "no version", as far as I'm concerned.

The way I see it, I'm still waiting for my printed copy of the September issue of LJ in my mailbox, and I still haven't gotten it.