Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Jul 2012

SITE NEWS: Kindle FOA 2012 Cancelled

After a lot of hours of work trying to find a program that would allow us to format Football Outsiders Almanac 2012 into a halfway-decent Kindle version, we're giving up. There won't be a Kindle version of the book this year, and given our experience this year, there probably won't ever be.

If you are wondering why, you can go back to this post and take a look at a couple of versions of the Dallas chapter we did for Kindle. They look awful. Everything we tried to do looked awful. We tried numerous different layout programs with no luck. We tried saving the tables as pictures rather than formatting them as text, and that didn't look good either. We tried every single thing that readers suggested, and everything was a mess.

The simple truth is that an e-ink reader is not designed for a book like ours. Take a look at this CNET review of the basic Kindle. The second picture shows a full screen of text. There are about 150 words there. Compare that to an average page of FOA 2012. I opened the book up at random, landed on a page in the Patriots chapter, and counted 850 words. Tables are an even bigger problem. We wouldn't be able to fit one team's entire Secondary or Front Seven table on a single Kindle screen.

We apologize if we got anyone's hopes up, but we really did want to make this happen. I have to admit that not owning one, I had no idea just how small the Kindle's screen actually is. Apparently, the PDF looks really good on an iPad, which has a bigger screen and is designed to show graphics instead of just text. I'm sure it looks fine on the Kindle Fire. But we just can't make an e-ink Kindle version that doesn't look like total crap.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Jul 2012

11 comments, Last at 25 Jul 2012, 11:01am by MatMan


by jhhburrjr :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 6:44pm

For what it's worth, and I'm not sure if this even helps: it looks GREAT on iBooks.


by Eddo :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:01pm

Totally understandable. The PDF version is fine on the Kindle, though it's obviously not ideal.

One request I would make is to still try to get a Kindle version working next year. Again, understandable if it again proves impossible, but I would hope that you wouldn't just give up after this year's issues.

As always, the book (what I've gotten through, at least) is a great read.

by Measure :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:47pm

I don't think there is any amount of effort they could put in to make this work. It is a format problem. Kindles are great at most books because most books don't have a lot of tables, graphs, or other picture content. For a reference material like this, e-ink kindles aren't going to do very well. You need a bigger page than the e-ink kindles offer.

by andrew :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:18pm

I'll just use it on my kindle fire I guess...

by IlluminatusUIUC :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:16pm

For what it's worth, the .pdf version is legible if I rotate the document 90 degrees and hold the kindle sideways. The text is small, but it works.

by Eddo :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:05pm

I find it legible even without rotating, with the exception of the first page of each chapter. Those have huge margins and small text for some reason, and I find myself needing to zoom.

by andrew :: Tue, 07/24/2012 - 11:48pm

The obvious answer is for Football Outsiders to develop their own tablet reader. We'll get the FOPad kickstarter project set up as soon as you give the word, Aaron.

by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 5:05am

I'm in. Let's do this!

by frievalt :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:18am

Downloading a PDF onto a kindle fire looks fine.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 10:33am

"book like ours"

This is exactly correct. Setting aside any technological hurdle, your book has very specific formatting requirement that the kindle just isn't up to.

It's not exactly an e-ink problem. With a bigger screen and higher resolution, you can conceivably display any 2color content you want. The problem is with kindles rendering pipeline and the physical limitations in the smaller kindles.

I'm reading the PDF on my phone and tablet, and they are fine on those devices.

I really wouldn't worry. I expect the number of people with kindles but no phone or tablet who also don't want to load the PDF on their kindle is vanishingly small.

by MatMan :: Wed, 07/25/2012 - 11:01am

I've owned a basic Kindle for a couple of years now. I love it, but I'd never want to read FOA on it. I don't even like printing out the PDF and sticking it in a 3-ring binder. I love the BOOK. I'm constantly flipping back and forth through sometimes hundreds of pages at a time, and that's pretty much impossible with the Kindle.

Traditional Kindle's great for reading a traditional book. My wife has a Kindle Fire and I can't stand it...causes a lot of eye strain when reading a book. But it's not really an e-reader anyway; the Fire is a tablet PC with the word "Kindle" in the name.

Anyway, if you're still interested in producing FOA for an e-ink reader, consider selling a half-price version that does away with the tables. Paragraph text only. The team summaries are great, and so are the O-line/special teams/coaching staff writeups. Honestly, I hardly ever read the friggin OL stat tables, anyway.

The individual player summaries/KUBIAK section can be kept intact, with a very simplified table of stats for each player.

You are all now two cents richer.