Working With File Converters

In the previous post on the Bookworm reader, there were certain obvious questions to working with new programs on your computer:

In this post, I hope to provide some answers to these questions as they are key to one’s productivity.

Can any one book reader handle all the formats thrown at it?

No. At the moment, it is difficult for any book reader to handle all the book formats you might have. The reason being that there are proprietary formats out there which are excellent in presentation of text – better than any given standard.

While the Epub format is the widely accepted format such that when you think of an ebook, you think of it – yet there are other formats such as the Amazon’s Kindle formats including, but not limited to, mobi and azw3. This trend is also seen with formats such as the Fiction Books, the Lit format and of course the old trusted PDF.

What to do with book readers that can’t support a majority of your book formats?

In case you find yourself with an accessible ebook reader, but one that does not deal with your majority of reading materials, you can either

  • Look for another accessible ebook reader that at least opens most of the formats you have. This is usually the case when you are dealing with DAISY books1
  • Consider looking for a file converter.

Working with File converters

A file converter is a program that takes as its input one file format and transforms it into another. The advantage of file converters is that they make it possible for you to access text which you wouldn’t unless you have a handler for a file.

You can think of a file converter in terms of transcription:

  • People who are blind will require transcription services to have access to print material.
  • Print is converted to Braille, and from then on the reader can interact with it just like others.

But when it comes to file converters, you have an added advantage that most of the programs are mainstream, meaning that they are not specialised. You do not have to think about extra costs spent in developing programs for a niche such as blind people alone.

Many converters can convert PDF files to EPUB formats, from all other formats to plain text. For example, the Codecs by James Scholes can do forward and back conversions2 of the following formats:

  • PDF to text;
  • Epub to text;
  • pdf to epub;
  • epub to PDF;
  • MS Word to PDF
  • and so on.

You can try the Codecs converter as it is both free and accessible.

What about Braille?

Besides these standard formats, you can also convert to Braille using either the Duxbury Braille Translator or any of the free alternatives such as:

Conclusion

There are many file converters, some free and some shareware, but they help you deal with lots of reading material. While some information may be lost in conversion, for instance some formulas may not be correctly translated, yet you have somewhere to start.

As these are not specialised tools, except for Braille, it makes it possible to exchange information with your friends, colleagues and relatives with ease.

Thank you for reading this post, until next time goodbye for now!


  1. Digital Access Information System – A format that merges text and audio in a single book. The format had been touted to be the successor to the talking books, but in my opinion, is failing to catch as promised as most of the mainstream formats are now accessible. ↩︎

  2. Forward and back conversion simply means that a converter can convert from File Format A to B, just as it converts from File Format B to A. It is a two-way conversion. ↩︎