51 comments on “PDF ARCs Are the Worst!

  1. I have only been using Netgalley since January and so far, I was lucky enough not to get any PDFs. I didn’t even know they had books in that format because it kinda sounds dumb to me but okay. I only ever tried reading one PDF on my Kindle and it was a real nightmare because the font was so small.

  2. Are PDFs hard to read on every type of e-reader? That’s really frustrating! I’m in the market for one and I’m trying to choose the one that will work the best with all of the formats. That’s too bad that they’re so difficult to read!

  3. I’m totally with you. I had my 2nd Gen Kindle for so long and loved it for everything except the PDFs. When I went to upgrade I was planning on getting a Paperwhite (because all I really wanted was a backlight for reading in bed), but went with a Nook HD for about $40 more because it would be easier to read all formats.

    It would make so much sense for NetGalley to share what the format is. I feel like there’s a few publishers that consistently use PDF, though I haven’t really tracked it…maybe that would be the best option?

    • Yeah, I had that thought. I know both of the NetGalley books I DNF’d were PDFs (and I’m sure that played a part in not giving the book more of a chance). A couple others I can remember specifically… mostly small print, but one was from Penguin! I’ll have to start keeping better track from here on out.

  4. PDFs are the hardest to read for sure! When I used my Kobo I had to play with the setting and adjust the page constantly just to read it. Even with my Kindle now it’s kind of annoying. I eventually had to read a few books on my laptop and it killed my eyes.

    I wish they would say what kind of format is used for eBook as well, but then again maybe a lot of bloggers wouldn’t request it if they knew it was a PDF.

    • That’s very possible (and I’d be one!) but you also wouldn’t think they’d want to knowingly start off with a black mark they have to overcome. Publishers should want their books going to readers who have a better chance of enjoying them… especially since they’re ARCs for review. I think misleading descriptions are a terrible practice too, but at least I can somewhat understand that they’re motivated by getting more people to buy the book, and whether those people will enjoy it is of lesser importance.

  5. Reading PDFs on a tablet is not much better. However, there are several options available to convert PDFs to a variety of ebook formats. There’s an open-source program called Calibre you can download, or there are several websites where you submit the PDF and they email it in the ebook format of your choice a little later. The re-formatting isn’t flawless, but it at least allows you to resize the text without spending most of your time scrolling back and forth.

  6. Ok I am right there with you on the PDFs – I don’t know anyone that likes to read them – so I can’t understand why the publishers put them up there. Literally if I get a PDF only option when I get approved for the book I’ll open it and if its awful *as they almost always are* I immediately send feedback stating that unfortunately I will be unable to read the title as it is not conducive to an enjoyable reading experience on my device. So there click click done and I don’t even feel bad about it. Then I just make a note not to request more titles from that publisher. Do I miss some good books – probably but its not worth the hassle.

    • Yeah, I’m not quite to that point, but I’m getting close. These I will probably keep around until they expire, just on the off chance I feel like giving them a shot. And one was actually a book I do want to read (I might try one of those PDF to ePub options another commenter mentioned). But most books I request I’m not that invested in.

  7. Ugh…PDFs are horrible on an ereader! I often do the same as an above poster: my feedback basically states that I will not be reading and reviewing the title because it was not in Kindle format. Another blogger told me that she added a line in her NetGalley profile basically saying, “If a book is unavailable in Kindle format, please do not approve me for it; I won’t be able to read it.” I’ve done that, but a PDF is still approved every now and again.

    • Hmm, that’s worth a thought… but then I’ll always be wondering, was I not approved because they only offered PDFs or for some other reason? I know it shouldn’t really matter and I’m theoretically making things easier on myself, but I just see myself dwelling on the uncertainty.

      • Oh, gosh, I didn’t even think of that! There were a couple of books this month that I was surprised to be denied, and now you’ve got me wondering…

  8. PDFs aren’t terrible on my iPad, but they are hell on my Kindle. Since I don’t like reading on my iPad, I won’t read PDFs. I’m farly honest with the publisher, in the feedback section I just unable to read due to file format.

    Off topic, but similar. I hate when there are serious formatting issues within an ARC.

    • I give them a chance, but I’ve been very loose with my DNFs lately. The story would have to really grab me right away to make me overlook the inconvenience of a PDF.

      • The last e-ARC I read: 1. This was how 2 it was written. 3 I 4 almost lost 5 mind trying to 6 read 7 that.

        **IDK why in the H it was written like that. Previous e-booksfrom these ppl had no problems

  9. It know exactly what you mean. On my kindle pdf’s make me want to cry and they literally give me a headache. The formatting varies so much and it’s never worth the hassle. On my tablet (which I only have since Jan), they are no bother so I don’t mind them so much. I don’t think it’s fair of publishers to distribute PDFs though, it’s easy convert them to mobi files and I think it’s a legitamate reason to refuse to review it.

    • I have always wondered why they do it. Is it so they don’t have to make separate versions for the different readers? Is it really that difficult? Also, it seems to be mostly smaller publishers, but one PDF I got was from Penguin! I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but looking back on it, I’m surprised.

    • Yes, I have to scroll left and right because the entire line won’t fit on the screen at the same time. I have a very old ereader, so I thought maybe the newer ones would have more fine-tuned controls for zooming and scrolling that might make it easier… but from the comments, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  10. You are right, PDFs are not worth the trouble – they are so difficult to read sometimes! I usually try to convert it to an ebook file, but usually there are issues with spacing and footers repeated every few pages and I don’t like to read a whole book on my tablet or computer so I don’t review PDF files either.

    • I’ve never tried converting, so that’s something I’ll definitely check out. But I think I’m going to just start refusing them (unless it’s a book I specifically searched out on NetGalley, rather than one I found while browsing).

  11. I’ve been requesting fewer books of all kinds from NetGalley than in some years past, but it does seem to me that a lower percentage of the books I request NOW are in PDF format, when I compare to a few years ago. So maybe publishers are realizing that PDF’s a shitty format for a review book, and changing their ways.

  12. I very much agree! I just suffered through a book that when on my ereader had font so small I could barely read, I had to basically have my nose pressed against the screen. Yet reading on the computer didn’t sound like a good option, cuddling up with my laptop just doesn’t hold the same appeal as an ereader. Haha

    • Yeah, I’ve done both, and neither is ideal. I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to create a file specifically meant to be read on an ereader. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. I can’t stand badly formatted ARCs! I live with them, understanding that I’m getting free books and all, but there are some that are unreadable due to formatting issues, and those I just won’t bother with. Back to your point — with Kindle, at least, it’s fairly easy to convert PDF format to Kindle format. The instructions from Amazon are: “You can also send your personal documents via e-mail as attachments to [name]@free.kindle.com. To have a document converted to Kindle format (.azw), the subject line should be “convert.”

    I did this recently with an ARC, and it worked perfectly.

    • I don’t have a Kindle, but apparently there are options for converting to ePub as well, so I definitely need to check that out. It might not be the perfect solution, but at least it’s an option.

  14. On my original reader (a Sony Touch), I couldn’t read PDFs AT ALL. They’d load, but then crash my system, so I stopped reading them. Since I switched to the NOOK HD, though, they’re more manageable, but still not preferred as I can’t adjust text size or the background colour of the page. :/

    (I do, however, select PDF when borrowing from OpenLibrary, cos their ePubs are just poorly converted PDFs with tons of errors that make them unreadable. Plus, seeing the BSC pages look exactly like they did in the books is a kick of nostalgia.)

    • Well, I guess it’s good they don’t crash my device! (This way I at least have the option of giving myself a headache…)

      And I have noticed that the ePubs on OpenLibrary are full of weirdness. But it’s a different thing when I’m choosing to get a PDF because that’s my best option for a book I truly want to read. As opposed to clicking something on NetGalley because it sounds interesting, but not having any real investment in it… in that case, the inconvenience is probably going to win out over curiosity.

  15. One publicist told me that to do the send to Kindle option, they needed to supply a PDF, and then it’s converted in mobi at NetGalley…which probably explains some of the horrendous formatting. It’s the conversion rather than the publishers. Although maybe they just send the one PDF for both options which is why you don’t always get an ePUB?

    I don’t read any that don’t have a send to Kindle option these days, except for graphic novels. I’ll ask the publicist if they can provide a Kindle option though, and often they do (or sometimes they send through a paper book).

    • Hmm, if that’s the case then it probably is just laziness (or “lack of resources” or some other industry term) why we don’t get proper ePubs, if they have to supply a PDF for the Kindle anyway. I still wish there was more transparency, though.

  16. I feel this! I have a Kobo and reading PDFs on it is sooo annoying. The font is just so tiny but when I zoom in, I have to side scroll a ton to get to the other page. Just super inconvenient.

    • I have a Kobo too, 1st generation. I thought maybe newer models or other ereaders might not have the same issue, but PDFs seem to be universally hated. The thing that really sucks is, a lot of the time, the margins seem unnecessarily big… and if the page would just stay centered when it zoomed in, I might not have to scroll left and right to see the whole width of the text. But no… all the way left… then all the way right… rinse and repeat… *sigh*

  17. I agree, PDFs suck! I think I’ve only gotten them from Entangled Teen, but man, they’re awful. Luckily my husband has a tablet so I can use that for the PDFs and then it’s not so bad.. but I recently got into a situation where I started a book on my husband’s tablet, then I hopped on a plane where I only had my Kindle and realized that I couldn’t finish the book I had started (unless I wanted to read it in tiny font on my Kindle… no thank you). So then I ended up not picking up the book for weeks… ugh.

    • I wish I had started noting earlier of which publishers I’d gotten them from, because I know it’s been several. Oh, well, I’m definitely paying attention now! Thanks for stopping by!

  18. I hate reading pdfs. I have a second gen kindle that doesnt like pdfs, so I try to read them on my nook and it just annoys me. It must be cheaper or easier for the publishers

    • That’s what I figured, but is it really SO much cheaper or easier that it’s worth not making a better impression with their readers? Apparently for some it is. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Ugh yes, I hate pdf arcs so much! I used to have a nexus and I could do kindle or epub but it broke and I haven’t replaced it with the protection plan money yet so I’m using my old nook color and pdf’s are annoying on it. The font is never big enough! And it’s awkward and just not what I want! Glad to see I’m not alone!

    • Reading other people’s thoughts, I don’t know that there’s any device that’s really good for PDFs, unless you “upgrade” to a tablet for the bigger screen. Personally, I’m not going to be getting a tablet any time soon, so I either get to deal with the awkwardness of PDFs or stop reading them… and I’m leaning more toward the latter.

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