Ebooks on S60

A while back I was exploring software goodies for my (then) newly acquired Nokia 6681 when I thought of ebooks. Now, 176 x 208 has already been derided as a joke for anything useful, but I was not ready to be put down, not yet.

My earlier attempts at reading PDF files with the bundled Acrobat Reader had been really painful; sluggish and with no sense of formatting. This time I decided to give a try to Amazon’s Mobipocket Reader. It is mainly an ebook management program, but more importantly, it can convert existing formats such as .pdf and .doc to Mobi ebook .prc format for viewing on a mobile phone. In a ideal world, the desktop application should’ve detected and installed a counterpart on the mobile phone. But that was not to be. The phone was detected all right but nothing else happened. So the next step was to get the standalone SIS installer for the cellphone.

All done, my first reading on the phone was the memorable “Escape” of Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers (from Mobipocket’s collection of free ebooks). The mobile phone reader has a fullscreen mode (ahem!), customisable font size, option for changing the page orientation, bookmarks etc. The default font is clear and easy to read on the mobile phone screen. The Reader can also be integrated with a Mobi dictionary which can be purchased separately. There is no page numbering or quick page ‘jump’ feature (except the bookmarks). Initially, it was very frustrating to end up on the title page through a single unwanted key-press. So one has to be careful to bookmark it ever so often.

The other ebook app that I really like is Cerience Corporation’s Repligo. What I like best about Repligo is that it preserves the font used in the original document. The conversion from any document like .pdf or .doc to Repligo’s .rgo format is through a virtual printer interface. Now, as far as I know, Mobipocket displays books in its inbuilt font. Repligo, however shows the same font as was used in the original document. So now I can read ebooks in Trebuchet font on my cellphone. Though there is no bookmarking feature in Repligo, it remembers where you last left the book. Also, it can jump to any page in the book manually. So nowadays I prefer Repligo over Mobipocket. Repligo Viewer for Serie60 can be downloaded from the developer’s website. The converter forRepligo is not free however, and a trial can be downloaded here.

The experience of reading an ebook on my 6681 screen was not too different reading the print of a newspaper column. But it definately does not make for a top of the line reading experience. Forget comparison with paper; no electronic version can ever come even close to the pleasure of snuggling under the covers on a cold night with a ‘real’ book. More importantly the screen size does matter and an S60 is indeed a joke before a PDA or any dedicated ebook platform. Also, I have’nt tried any books with formatting such as tables and images for instance, but from what I’ve seen so far, I believe an S60 device will simply massacre the formatting.

paper-repgo.jpg

(A newspaper alongside Nokia 6681 running Repligo. Click on the image for a bigger view.)

Be that as it may, I’m overjoyed with the thought of tons of Project Gutenburg ebooks that I can now explore (much more comfortably than from a desktop or a laptop at any rate, atleast until I save up for a nice little PDA).

 EDIT: Just by way of clarification, what I meant was that yes Series 60 is not too great for reading ebooks. But I’m more comfrotable reading off my Nokia 6681, than I’m from my dekstop or laptop. And I regulalry use it to read the free Gutenberg classics. Its like, real paper book > PDA > Series 60 > Desktop / Laptop. I guess a good PDA might even give a run to a real book, but since I haven’t used a PDA, that’s just a guess.

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