I currently read academic papers by downloading the PDF and printing; and the tiny collection of LaTeX documents I’ve authored are output as PDFs. It feels like I should embrace e-readers for academic reading and writing. I have a Kindle Keyboard which does handle PDFs but reading PDFs is not especially pleasant on the Kindle because of its small screen, relatively sluggish refresh rate and clunky note-taking feature.

Alternative e-readers

  • The Kindle DX (a large-format Kindle) and the Kindle Touch both do a better job of displaying PDFs than the Kindle Keyboard. But neither are available in the UK.
  • Asus makes several e-readers. The most interesting for my purposes are:

If I bought an alternative e-reader, could I still read my Amazon ebooks? It looks like Calibre can convert from the Kindle’s .azw format to .epub.  I should also look into converting PDFs to a format which is more suitable for a Kindle Keyboard: I’ve tried a few tools but none produce a satisfactory output.

Converting LaTeX to HTML and/or EPUB

I write my academic stuff in LaTeX largely because it has excellent support for typesetting maths, cross-references and for bibliography management. PDFs are great for printing but not quite so good for displaying on the web or e-readers.

The latest epub format, epub 3, is based on HTML5 and supports MathML. Outputting LaTeX to HTML5 with MathML support sounds like a good solution, except that legacy browsers don’t support HTML5 and, at the time of writing, I think few (if any) e-readers support epub3. Some links:

Academic publishing in Drupal

Drupal has some interesting modules for rendering LaTeX in web pages, for example MathJax and DruTeX. And a Bibliography module with discussion about integrating Zotero

Update 4/2/2012: I’ve tried the Drupal Biblio module and it’s not for me.  I just want something which will pull references from my Zotero library or from a DOI number.  I really don’t want to have to maintain two biblio DBs.  So I’m just going to manually hyperlink references like this (Hart, 1992). This is easier to maintain, easier to read and generally easier for everyone.  The MathJax module, on the other hand, is great!

Originating content as XML

Instead of authoring content as LaTeX, perhaps I should consider authoring it as HTML/XML? Some links: