Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FBReaderJ and Ebooks on your Android Phone

So one of the main uses of every phone/pda I've owned for the last 8-9 years is read ebooks. It's funny because I seem to be in the minority - but I find it incredibly useful to be able to bring out my phone and read an ebook no matter where I am.
If I'm in a queue at the shopping centre, waiting for a haircut or catching the train - there's nothing better than to read a book. I've always loved reading and one of the coolest things you can do with a phone with a great screen like the HTC Magic has is read ebooks on it!
And of course with heaps of storage space on your phone you can carry a lot of them too - so you'll never run out on the go!

Now up until now I've used WinMo phones and I've generally always used Microsoft Reader or Tiny eBook Reader on those - mostly because the collection of books I have is all in Microsoft .LIT format.

The last couple of years there's been more interest in the ebook market and they've settled on a publishing standard called ePub.

So what to do with your existing .LIT ebook collection? Well.. if it's unprotected and there's no DRM - then you can jump on your local linux box (ubuntu or debian as you choose) and 'apt-get lit2epub'.

Now that I've given an introduction on ebooks, lets look at what ebook reader you can use on your new Android phone - there's a number of them on the market, but the one I like so far is FBReaderJ - it's a native Android application - renders the book extremely nicely and you can either flick your finger up and down (or side to side) to change pages - or you can use the volume up/down buttons on the side.
Your place in the book is stored everytime you change page, so if the app closes, phone dies, etc it will always jump you to where you were reading last next time it's opened.
I generally always have it open in the background and have a shortcut on my home screen to get to it always. You can read in the dark using the white on black mode shown above, or you can read in the daytime using more traditional black on white.

If you're wondering where you can source ebooks - there's plenty of places out there - I've been going through the Baen Free Library which has an awesome collection of science fiction/fantasy novels from a wide range of authors, though I got these in the .LIT format and then converted them. There's also epubBooks who have a nice collection of free ebooks - and have a heap of links to commercial ebook vendors.

Forget the Kindle - grab FBReaderJ and start your ebook collection on your phone - you won't regret it! :)

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