DjVu – A PDF Alternative

gears_icon While I own an iPad, I’m not a big fan of reading on it. I can play games on it and browse the web, but when it comes to reading books and PDFs, I just don’t like doing it on the iPad for very long. A few years ago, I bought a giant-size ereader, the Onyx M92, to handle my PDF collection. Only it wasn’t terribly good at rendering large PDF files. It would display blank pages if the graphics were too complicated and it took a long time to turn the page. So I put it the back of the drawer to gather dust.

However, this year I started up a Masters of Project Management, which means reading lots of articles. I dragged the M92 out of retirement, got a friend to stick a new battery in and tried to get more use out of it. But even with the latest software upgrade, it couldn’t handle chunky PDFs, or even some of the university readings that had slightly complex graphics to them.

Then I discovered an alternative to the PDF format – DjVu! It’s an archive format made for scanned documents. And it works perfectly on the M92. I’ve converted my chunkiest, most graphics-intensive PDFs into DjVu and I haven’t had any problems viewing them. So if you have an old gadget, see how it handles DjVu files.

Quick Links and Notes
About djvu format.

Readers
DjVu readers are available for most platforms (iPad, Android, Windows, Mac etc) – you’ll definitely find something by typing ‘Djvu’ into the app store of your choice or installing/compiling DjVuLibre DjVu files.

Turning PDFs into DJVU
Install pdf2djvu. I did this by a) installing mac ports and b) going ‘port install pdf2djvu’ at the terminal. Otherwise, googling ‘pdf2djvu’ should present you with a variety of technical solutions for your platform of choice. There’s also a Djvu2PDF application in the Mac appstore if you just want to drag and drop, although this cuts out a lot of the options you’ll get at the command line.