[tex4ht] dvilualatex and tex4ht

Victor Ivrii vivrii at gmail.com
Fri Jul 22 14:25:21 CEST 2011

On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 9:49 PM, Johannes Wilm <mail at johanneswilm.org> wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 3:50 PM, Karl Berry <karl at freefriends.org> wrote:
>> I don't have any inclination to debate the future of publishing here :).
> I see, you just happen to do today on your blog instead. There you make it
> clear there that you are against
> ebooks. http://www.advogato.org/person/karlberry/

Please do not confuse position of the blogger (K.B.) with the position
of the author of the submission. Also it is clear for me that the
author is against not all ebooks but of the commercial ones which
allow the publisher control the book. Remember how Amazon pulled one
ebook from the devices of the customers who already purchased it and
thus destroyed all the notes these customers made? So much respect for
the author rights.

Also e-book is not necessarily "epub" or similar formats. E-books (and
 e-articles) existed long before it - in pdf or plain text, html etc
with no trojan horses of DRM.

> Pure coincidence, right?
> Look I don't want to get into a discussion around whether or not ebooks
> should be made. It is simply a fact that printed books are about to be
> history, at least as stand-alone versions. I don't think you can change that
> by keeping the capabilities of creating ebooks out of LaTeX. Instead you
> just end up making LaTeX irrelevant.
> I wrote a book/thesis in laTeX the first time in 2004. And I came on the
> editorial board of an undergraduate journal. we wanted to have our articles
> spread as far as possible. The whole thing about publishing-for-money was
> not an issue as I imagine it isn't for just about any student. The entire
> printing operating relied on the anthropology department funding it and
> additionally for them to buy and give the journal/book away as christmas
> presents to the entire staff. I was of course the LaTeX person and back then
> just converting it to a PDF file we could upload everywhere was more than
> enough to have 'digital distribution" even though it would have been nicer
> to just have it on web pages.

Depends. Reflow is nice but it will make text with heavy math formulae
very ugly if the page size differs very much from the intended one. If
I understand correctly, majority of people who use TeX use it because
of "math". So far I have not seen a single epub math book (I may be

If you want just a bit of math on webpages you can use MathJax. I used
a lot of tex4ht before but now, IMHO, as a way to produce html it is a
deadened. Produced html cannot be edited easily by humans.

> Now we are in 2011. I write my next thesis (PhD) and try to get my ideas
> about politics in Nicaragua spread as far as possible. Yes, there will be a
> print version, but it will e priced so that it can cover for its own
> printing costs + the returns I expect. Again -- no money made. If I manage
> to turn it into an ebook, quite differently from the ideas in your post,
> this is not to for ever control the book. It will be DRM-free and after a
> possible initial period in which I will let the book sellers have a monopoly
> on it, it will be completely for free for download for anyone to use as they
> please. I've risked my life many times in obtaining this information, yet I
> only want to spread it. doing so in traditional book form will be very
> limited. Think for example about third world countries (such as Nicaragua).
> Who there will be able to pay the 35 USD or whatever it ends up being
> (including postage)? So quite frankly, yours and rms's attitude seems not
> only outdated but also quite elitist.

I was really surprised to learn from people working for major
publishing houses that in the most cases printing cost is negligible
in comparison with costs of editing. Do not know about distribution
costs. Unfortunately prices are very high: $95 or $195 for an
university textbook is a rule. However many people are making
materials freely available - and without string attached.

> By the way, I've also been quite involved in very much open source software
> for the past 12 years and certainly have hardly made any money of it. Google
> someone like me, before you make similar statements next time. Just because
> something is open source does not usually mean that there is no master plan.
> Quite on the contrary -- look at the many years of planning behind luatex.
> Yet, given the state of affairs and if there is possibly even some kind of
> anti-ebook attitude to be found in the LaTeX-world, I guess next time I will
> have to go back to Microsoft Word (or well, Libreoffice, which I think will
> have to convert to doc) -- the only format accepted by smashwords and the
> only thing that currently seems practical to convert to epub. :(
> Thanks. That was it for my rant.

Right, LaTeX people are very anti-ebooks. F.e. hyperref (and similar)
or  cooltooltips (etc) packages having very little if any value for a
print production.

BTW, I do not see anything elitist in the position of K.B. or even of
the author of that post - but IMHO, your "holier than you" approach
has an elitist' flavour.
> --
> Johannes Wilm
> http://www.johanneswilm.org
> tel: +1 (520) 399 8880

Victor Ivrii, Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto

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