Mr BagofSpoons recently mentioned reading ebooks on a smart phone
and I realised this would alleviate my issues with print media.
So off I trotted to the Android app store/market
to find the search function had been removed. Rather than use the phones market place app I turned to http://uk.androlib.com
and began my quest.
Now to me, ebooks equals either proprietary binary/DRM infested file formats such as the Kindle uses or PDF (Portable Document Format). Although there were a fair few results in a search for "PDF", only a few were readers and most seemed to upload any PDF you wanted to read to a web service that returned html. The remaining few failed miserably when I downloaded them and tried to read a PDF ebook.
Not having ever looked at this domain of entertainment I was quite taken aback from all the ebook formats that books are available in from plain text to epub and fb2.
Searching on these revealed many more applications each with varying reviews and features. I downloaded four based on reviews and format support.
was the only one that worked out of the box, that was, to load the file I specified without changing any settings.
It happily allowed me to read the beginning of Cory Doctorow: Makers
, saving place when exiting and allowing me to continue on reopening. You can not change the brightness in this app but, it is possible to set the colours to something less glaring than black on white. I needed to bump up the font size to make it readable on the vibrating train.
The two down sides to Compact reader is the limited format support, plain text only and word wrap is missing, which seems to not be to bad until you get to a word that when split is still a valid word e.g.
on the other hand, at least the down
load had started and the drinks were flow
It also had the handy habit of slightly re-positioning it self when you scrolled backwards so cut of words and sentences were on a full page if you cajoled it.
The next one I got working was Aldiko
. It came with "the art of war" and "The invisible man" ready to read but I wanted more Cory Doctorow: Makers
This time it was all about epub. Had to use AndroZip
to copy my file into "/sdcard/eBooks/import" and then choose import from the menu. The spinner came up indicating it was loading but then just a blank screen.
This is a full size book so I decided to give it a few moments before I gave up and low and behold with no warning the title page appeared.
This app has lots of ways to move through the pages, left-right swipes, edge taps and physical volume up/down buttons. It also has brightness control and a day/night feature for black on white or visa versa.
The number one feature was word wrap (see above) this made it a joy to read with. It correctly remembered my place in the book on exit and has numerous other features like downloading ebooks from feedburner etc.
would only handle .fb2 formatted ebooks and would only read said file from /sdcard/Books. Again it supported day/night mode and font style/size but, no brightness. The screen was highly readable with text wrapped nicely, working bookmarks and quick to load up.
What was slightly strange compared to the Aldiko
was the page progression processes, instead of flicking right to left or clicking the screen, you drag up the screen. Which actually produces quite a pleasant experience ( you can also set horizontal scrolling in the preferences).
Last was Wordoholic Reader
. After a number of tries at getting it pointed at the folder containing the ebooks I gave up and uninstalled and reinstalled (there was a newer version). This gave me the default settings including its preferred folder '/sdcard/wordoholic-read', so I copied my book files over and ... no titles found. So I emailed the developer.
He replied in minutes and boy did I feel stupid, appears there is a "Refresh" button that must be selected in the "My Books" section, but strangely the same option is not available on the main screen or the titles area in "My Books", which is where it actually tells you there are no books (or lists the titles).
So it read my .fb2 file which displayed fine but what was a bit odd was the navigation. No swiping, scrolling or tapping, the only way to move forward or backward through the pages is via the physical volume buttons. Unfortunately this buttons are under the phone and quite inaccessible when in landscape mode.
My adventure is over, a clear winner has emerged and I have now read over half of Cory Doctorow: Makers
on the train with it.
What is interesting about the various ebook readers is not their ability to display (or not) ebooks for reading but, instead the provision for other functionality, that I was wholly uninterested in.
was designed to translate selected words and store them for later expansion, Aldiko
wants to be a one stop shop for getting and managing ebooks and FBReader
is the open source "extend me" contender with Compact reader
trying to be simple.
And I still want a PDF reader that treats the PDF like a book for reading rather than a large image that has to be scrolled. Maybe I should write my own.