When we talked about getting free ePubs in my previous post, I mentioned that Google has millions of books available free for download on line. The problem was that most of the publications were in the PDF format, not the ePub format used by hand-held eReaders,like the Nook.
The PDF format, pioneered by Adobe in 1993, has been the defacto standard for document publication and exchange. When Google decided to digitize books, they naturally used the PDF format. This was before the benefits of the ePub format working with hand-held eReaders came into their own. Google is now starting to also generate ePub formatted material, but by far, the vast majority of their free collection is done in the PDF format, which has been a pain to read.
The PDF format has difficulty in paging, font changing, and font sizing in eReaders, and on computers. It's clunky. That still doesn't change that there are tons of PDF documents, more than any other format available for free on the web.
How do we read PDF formatted documents? Well, we normally double-click and bring up the Adobe reader, which is dog slow to load, or the Foxit reader which is a little quicker.
The trouble with these PDF readers is their boring, and a pain to use. They're not fluid and flexible. You zoom in and out sort of spastically, and you have to scroll back and forth if you increase the zoom size to much.
I ran across something different and unique in PDF readers, called MartView, and I had to write about it.
MartView is strange, free, and at the same time beautiful. Its interface is different from any other program you've ever used. It uses a lot of color, unlike the standard PDF readers. It flies against convention and has its own proprietary format, "mart", which oddly you don't mind, because you can convert any PDF to mart easily.
What's so special about MartView? One look at their web site will have you drooling. The program reads PDF documents like you read a book. It's reading functionality is unique and colorful. Colors render beautifully. Magazines look like real magazines in full color. You can flip pages, like using a regular book, you can scroll read horizontally or vertically. You can jump zoom with the mouse or adjust your zoom with your mouse scroll wheel. If you don't want to scroll read, you can click a button along the side once, and go to the next page.
If your book has an index you can pop that open any time, put a page in the page number box, click, and you are there. You can bring up a thumbnail of all the pages, by hitting the "T" key, and click on a page and jump to it, or grab a slider and zoom through the book to your spot.
Another thing that makes MartView different is you can convert PDF's to the "mart" format. MartView can still read the PDF format, if you don't want to convert, but converting makes everything run smoother, and allows you to upload your document to their repository for others to download.
MartView maintains a huge repository of free Mart documents on their web site. To get a free document, you have to run MartView, but then a huge library is available for you to download. Click on the document, and it will be downloaded to the Mart library on your PC. When I first loaded MartView, I found 10 complete computer technical books in their library, downloaded them, and now can read them at my leisure.
Once you convert a PDF document to a mart document, you can upload it to their repository to share with everyone. You can also use MartView as a publishing platform and publish your novel to the MartView repository.
What are MartView's drawbacks? Well, at the moment, it only works on Windows, a Mac version is forthcoming. You can move around the book so fast, that occassionally the program gets hung trying to keep up with you, and you'll have to restart the program. I've been spoiled by my eReader, MartView does not remember where you left off reading. However, you can zoom to your last place pretty fast with the programs navigation. And finally, it takes a little bit of time to get use to the program navigation. Once you do, you'll find the controls intuitive and natural.
If you would like to change from occasionally reading PDF documents, because they're a pain in the other PDF readers, to a unique, natural, colorful way to read any PDF, I recommend you download MartView, play with it for awhile to get used to their unique menu system, load in one of your PDF's, and enjoy a unique PDF reading experience. I don't think I'll ever go back to the old readers again.