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EBook for EPOC

One of the 'killer' applications for me since returning to the EPOC world at the beginning of 2003 has been EBook by Simon Quinn ( Not surprisingly perhaps, it's an electronic book (eBook) reader. :)

I guess I first really got into reading eBooks when I'd strayed to the dark side (MicroSoft !) a couple of years ago and was trying out eBooks on an iPAQ. More importantly, I discovered that there are vastly more eBooks available to be read than I'd ever previously supposed. I'd assumed that one was effectively limited to two sources of eBooks - the free / out of copyright ones (i.e. the 'classics') and the more recent ones that you could purchase at various online stores. The only problem with the latter is that many authors/publishers choose not to publish in electronic format and hence there's still a big restriction on what's available.

I discovered however that there's a third option. There's a fairly active community of people scanning their own books and converting them into eBook formats on various newsgroups and elsewhere. Now before I go any further let me point out that this is an illegal activity and I cannot condone it. Approve or not owever, it's happening... The legality of downloading these illegally copied books is however slightly greyer. The fairly widely held view online is that; so long as you have a legally owned and paid for paper copy of the book, then it's not illegal to read electronically something that you've already paid for. And personally, I've found this to be a ideal way of reading. For example, I recently got into the 'DiscWorld' series of books by Terry Pratchet with the result that I went out and bought the entire paper-based collection and then downloaded the series from the internet. Compressed, the whole series of 28-odd books takes up something like 7Mb of memory on my netBook (not a vast amount these days) and I can carry the entire collection around with me to read at my leisure in a package no bigger than one or two of the original books! Of course, it means that there's an increasingly large collection of entirely unopened books sitting in my bookshelves - but they're very pretty to look at! ;)

Anyway, I digress somewhat. EBook by Simon Quinn was originally published as freeware but became shareware when it reached v2.1. However, in November 2002 - at v2.3 - Simon decided that he wanted to stop developing/supporting the program and made it freeware again by publishing an unlock registration key for it. It was always one of the best eBook reader programs available for the EPOC/Psion platform - but making it freeware again easily made it the best!

'About EBook'

To summarise EBook's features:-
  • Supports compressed and uncompressed Palm DOC files (.prc & .pdb) - perhaps the most widely available format on the web
  • Supports TCR documents (a proprietary - but free - format originally created for use with the Psion 3x range of machines)
  • Text document support (.txt) files
  • Supports Unicode / code page 850 documents (available as a separate package)
  • Auto Scroll
  • Dual orientation reading - horizontal and vertical
  • Clipboard copy and copy to file
  • Up to 80 bookmarks per document using Palm DOC style embedded bookmarks
  • Palm DOC & TCR recogniser on ER5 handhelds (Revo/Mako/MC218/S5mx/S7/netBook) - in other words, once the program is installed, just double-tapping on the file you want to read will open it up
  • EPOC font file format (.gdr) support
  • Online help
  • Small memory usage, whatever size the document viewed
  • Written in C++ for optimum speed
  • Installs and supports English, French, German, and Russian

Reading an eBook on EBook...

Simon has also made tools available on his website which enable you to create PDB and TCR format files from text, Word, etc. on the machine itself - a nice touch. :)

To summarise, EBook is a superbly executed program and the best there is for the EPOC platform (in my opinion). And it's freeware - so what have you got to lose! Highly recommended.

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Saturday, 1 April 2006