REVIEW: Ebook Weekly: Desktop Ereading Programs
Last week, I addressed what formats were commonly sold by epublishers. One of the commenters noted last week that she tried html format but it didn’t have any of the advantages of the other software such as bookmarking, annotations, library, etc. It is a true that reading an html file with a browser program like AOL, Netscape or Internet Explorer, will not be an enjoyable experience.
One of the great things about ereading is the idea of customization. Each reader can do what they want to make the reading experience more fully their own whether it is by changing the font or the background color, by removing margins, changing the scrolling buttons and the like. In order to take advantage of the ereading experience, a reader does need help. Help comes in the form of software programs that allow you the customization and organization capabilities. This series of articles will address the ereading software for html and other unencrypted formats.
In order to use these software programs, you must have an unencrypted file and most of the time, it is easiest to have an html or a txt file. The drawback with a TXT file is that very little formatting is preserved. By formatting, I am referring to visual delights such as drop caps at the beginning of chapters, italics, and bold. This week, we are going to look at three Desktop Readers for those who read solely on the laptop or desktop. I do not include Mobipocket, Ereader, MS Lit or Adobe as we touched on those last week.
Note: Click on the image to see a larger screen example of each reader
Gowerpoint’s uBook (my personal favorite for both the handheld and the pc)
- Platforms: Windows 95 and above
- Display: Single pages, but resizable. Displays images (for those Manga Readers).
- Customization: Virtually limitless.
- Formats: TXT, .RTF, .HTML, .PML, .PDB and .PRC (Non-Secure). Extracts text from PDF files.
- Organization: Based solely on your folder system on your desktop. I.e., if you have books organized by Last Name, First Name – that is how it will appear in the “library” view, with creating links for A, B, C, D, etc. You can associate images (like covers) with the file. Neat.
- Bookmarks: Yes. You can make notes, highlight, and bookmark. You can view all bookmarks in a summary manner. This is a great feature for book reviewing. I always mark and make notes while reading. It’s the electronic version of post it notes.
- Last Page: yes, returns to the last page read for as many number of books that you set.
- Cost: $15 (it displays a nag screen every page or so until you get a registration file)
- Pros: This program is constantly being updated. It is infinitely customizable. Has an autoscroll feature. Reads a large number of formats without conversion. It can read “zip” files allowing you to compress your books and save harddrive space. Views images (like covers). Also has a dictionary included which can be accessed while reading the book.
- Cons: It takes some time to understand how to customize the program. No rating system or customized organization features.
- Platforms: windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000XP and Linux
- Display: Display pages side by side (like a paper book) or single pages.
- Customization: Resizable window, customize the text and background color, customize the way the paragraphs appear
- Formats: text, html, rtf, pdb, prc
- Organization: No real organization system.
- Bookmarks: Yes but no way to view bookmarks made other than by jumping from bookmark to bookmark.
- Last Page: No. It always starts at page 1.
- Cost: Free
- Pros: It has a Gutenberg downloader which will retrieve “the latest catalogue from Project Gutenberg, turn it into a searchable list of books with titles and authors, and allow you to download and read any of their works with a couple of mouse clicks.” Of interesting note, the writer of this program is also a sci fi writer who uses this reader as a promotional device for his books. He received a publishing contract recently from a respected Austrialian publisher.
- Cons: I am not a fan of how paragraphs look in this book and the lack of annotations but overall, it is a great reader for the price.
- Platforms: WIN 98/ME/2000/XP/2003
- Display: Display pages side by side (like a paper book)
- Customization: Resizable window, customize the text and background color, customize the way in which paragraphs appear
- Formats: LIT (Microsoft ebooks), text, rtf, html, MS Word documents, pdb and prc.
- Organization: No real organization system.
- Bookmarks: No
- Last Page: Yes
- Cost: Free but a nag screen
- Pros: Very smooth scroll speed. Built in read aloud features.
- Cons: It is a large program that had noticeable lags for me. It doesn’t display the cover. May have to install additional programs “to import” the books. The books cannot be read natively but must be “converted”. Each “converted” book then represents another file on the computer. No bookmarking that I could find.
Next week: Why go “e”? An interview with an newly converted ebook reader.