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My Experience with Reading Digital Books on the New Droid Phone...

Author Gwen Hayes emailed me that she had recently purchased a Droid phone from Verizon.   A Droid phone is a smartphone that runs on the Google Android system.   I asked her what she thought of the device for reading and she agreed to write a post for Dear Author. (Beware people who email me lest you, too, be roped into writing something for Dear Author).   Just in time for the Holidays, these are Gwen’s thoughts on the Droid phone.

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verizon-droid-3Last week, I got the new Droid phone from Verizon. I’ve been coveting the iPhone for-’well, since they released it, so I was super excited that I could keep my carrier and eat my cake too.

While talking to Jane about the possibility of reading books on my phone (because Jane is my Digital Goddess in a totally non-smutty way) she asked if I’d be willing to write up my experiences. I blanched at first-’I love writing fiction but writing about techy stuff is daunting. I mean, I love techy stuff, obviously, but I don’t really understand what I’m doing. I push buttons and hope they work. When they don’t, I push more buttons really fast in random order and hope that takes care of it.

So, yeah, I’m not really the best resource.

But I figured there must be a lot of people just like me out there-’people who have a basic understanding of cut-and-paste and "click here". People who love the idea of new toys and yet have no idea what to do with them. People who probably have no business operating handheld digital devices worth hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.

This one is for you.

Aldiko

Available at http://www.aldiko.com

Alkido reads Non-DRMed ePub format (the extension is .pub).

To get books:

Alkido comes with an extensive online catalog of free public domain books, free books from Feedbooks.com, Smashwords, and others. It also has an affiliation with All Romance ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com . The process for each of these was simple, click download or "buy" and it shows up on your bookshelf a little later.

(I will say that the ARe website was not the very best in terms of mobile viewing. The links were small and close together making it hard to use the touch screen when I had to sign in.)

To put your own content on Aldiko:

First, don’t panic.

I was pleasantly surprised how well I handled the terror. Don’t forget to breathe and don’t push any extra buttons.

I didn’t have files on my computer with the .pub extension, but I read Jane’s Calibre tutorial http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2008/12/28/calibre-the-ebook-readers-best-friend-part-1-of-2 . Armed with that knowledge, I downloaded Calibre and converted files for multi-format books I did have to the .pub file extension.

The Alkido website has easy instructions regarding importing data. Basically, you plug your phone into your computer and it shows up as a removable disc. You drag your files into the ebooks folder, disengage, open the Alkido program on your phone and click import, and you are all kinds of genius and done.

Reading:

You can turn pages several ways. Tapping the screen, using the volume controls, and flinging, which to me is just silly and made no sense. Apparently, flinging is a different finger movement than tap. It stumped me.

You can adjust font type, size, and color, brightness of screen, and the amount of time it takes to turn pages (1.2 seconds works best for me). You can look up words in the dictionary while reading, toggle from black screen with white letters to white screen with black letters, bookmark at will, show progress, and search for words in text. The files I imported didn’t have any strange characters and were formatted well.

Bookshelf:

You can create tags and create collections. I like to keep track of the year I read a book, where I purchased it (for all those online bookshelves I have floating around), and how I rate it.

Next up-..

Wordplayer

screenshot_10p_wordplayerAvailable at http://www.word-player.com/

Wordplayer has many of the same features as Alkido. It reads the same file extension, you can change fonts, etc.

What’s the diff?

The bookshelf for Wordplayer was not all that or even a bag of chips. No tagging, no collections-’very meh. If you want to find a book and you have more than a few, good luck to you. Enjoy your scrolling. It does have a browse by subject which uses the metadata I guess-’but that just isn’t how my mind works. For instance, I uploaded only two books to the shelf, clicked on browse by subject and there were fifteen keywords for them. About thirteen of those were very strange. I’d rather use my own tags because I never would have thought to look for the ones listed.

The big whoopdidoo about WP is that you can wirelessly synch your Calibre library to your phone. I am going to say this I bet this works. I could not find the WEP password for my wifi at home, and you have to be on the same wifi connection. You can still do the cut and paste method. I am a pro at both the cutting and the pasting, so this was the method I chose.

There is a text to speech in WP. If you like that, more power to you. I’m not a fan. If the speaker was Richard Armitage this would be my favorite feature. Also, there is a setting to turn pages by flicking your wrist/shaking the phone. It was kind of odd.

The website suggests that there is a highlighting feature-’remember who you are dealing with here-’but I could not find it. Also, Wordplayer was much slower to open the books.

I should mention that both Alkido and Wordplayer have a "share" feature that you can send a little note to Twitter, Facebook, or your gmail contacts that says something along the lines of "I’m reading a great book called "Oh Goddess" on my Droid phone-’you can too." And then shows the website of the program you are using. Which is good. I think EVERYONE who reads "Oh Goddess" should do this.

The mid-post recap-

So, for my DRM free books, between the two, I much preferred Aldiko. It was faster, and better organized to me, allowing me to tag books the way that makes sense to me. It didn’t have the robot voice to lull me to sleep while she read with her sexy stilted voice, though. I might have to upload an erotic romance to Wordplayer just to laugh like a 12-yearl-old when she says the names of certain body parts.

But Gwen, you ask, what about new books?

Fear not, grasshopper, I know Courtney Milan has a book coming out in January. I know it won’t be DRM free.

You know how on Fictionwise they are always offering you that 5% discount if you buy the book in eReader format?

Solid Gold, baby. Because now Fictionwise offers a Droid app.

eReader Pro

Available at www.fictionwise.com

The Fictionwise reader, called eReader Pro, doesn’t have any bells and whistles. It’s a beta version. If you want to buy books from your phone, you have to buy them from the ereader.com store which is related to Fictionwise, but not Fictionwise. Both are owned by Barnes and Noble (pay attention, that becomes important in a minute). However, when I connected to my Fictionwise account using the reader app on my phone, it automatically preloaded my online bookshelf to the screen (any books in the right format anyway). I could then download to my phone any of the books already on my online shelf if they are multi-format or .pdb extension. If you are a fan of the Micropay dollars and Buywise Club, I suggest buying online at Fictionwise and then getting them to your phone via the online bookshelf.

The reader still needs a little work. The screen didn’t always recognize my taps. Perhaps I am not tapping correctly. Heaven knows it’s confusing to tap. Cutting and pasting, I’m your girl. Tapping and flinging are debatable.

You can change font size, and there is a note taking feature. The website states more features are coming. I’ll cut them some slack, it just got released; I know my rough drafts are sometimes lean too. I’m sure with the right critique partner, this application will rock.

I was unable to move any personal content. For one thing, I didn’t have any .pdb files to transfer to the Personal Content Server. For another, the little + mark that is supposed to be on my bookshelf isn’t there. When that gets fixed, I should be able to get content from other websites. Which is nice, right?

If you are going to be getting a Nook soon, you should know that Nook uses the same operating system as the Droid and Barnes & Noble currently sells ebooks in the eReader format. It’s all nice and incesty for you. This makes me happy because while I like having books on my phone for convenience, I still like a dedicated reader for curling up on the couch. And Nook appeals to me the most at this point.

One more and I’m done-

ShortCovers

Available at http://www.shortcovers.com

This app reads DRM’d ePub files. This will be better for those of you who have Sony ebook readers and a Droid phone. I personally don’t like going through all the Adobe nonsense. However, the ShortCovers reader has a much better online catalog than eReader.com for buying right to your phone. It was much homier to me than the Fictionwise/ereader.com set-up.

And there you have it. If you were hoping for screenshots and any real help-’sorry for your luck.

Gwen Hayes writes fiction for adults and young adults. When she’s not saving the world, you can find her blogging every Friday at The Fictionistas http://fictionistas.blogspot.com or her website www.gwenhayes.com . Also, she sometimes accidentally gets into Twitter fights with chachbags.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

29 Comments

  1. Statch
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 07:52:59

    Thank you for this! I’m currently using a Touch to read ebooks because AT&T has a very weak signal at my house. I have a Verizon ‘pay as you go’ phone and have been watching the Droid reviews, because I’d love to have ebooks on my phone, but most of the reviews don’t cover the ebook issue. Now I just have to decide whether it’s worth the monthly fee…

    ReplyReply

  2. Readin’ on the Droid: Author Gwen Hayes reviews Aldikio, WordPlayer, eReader and ShortCovers | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 09:28:26

    [...] thoughts come to mind in the wake of a review that author Gwen Hayes did for Dear Author on four Android e-readers that work with the Droid and [...]

  3. Tina M.
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 09:59:16

    I didn’t know about Aldiko so this has been very helpful. Did the download to myTouch and I am pretty satisfied with the look of the app and the entire functionality. Thank you!

    ReplyReply

  4. Jeannie Lin
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:06:15

    Oh, I want! Even though I have a Sony e-reader, I mostly still read e-books on my laptop since I’m in front of my computer so much. But I love to carry books around to read whenever there’s a wait anywhere, hence the upgrade to the e-reader. But to have a reader in your phone so you don’t have to carry extra gadgets? Too cool.

    ReplyReply

  5. Anne Douglas
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:07:10

    My iPhone was stolen Thursday, so being that I spent all of saturday figuring out WTF to replace it will because I didn’t have $399 to for out for the upgrade to 3gs (the cheapest way to do it), I thought I’d share what we found.

    So we went shopping with Android in mind (which is the OS, different than Droid – the name of Motorola’s new device that runs Android.)

    The husbag was still at Verizon after I broke away just to get my iPhone (Lucky enough this area gets decent ATT coverage, but it had its 3g problems) so that was our first stop. Droid – yummy screen, but the HTC Eris was pretty yummy looking too, and smaller as its pure touchscreen (droid has a physical keyboard). Price difference was $100 though. So we filled them as researchable for when we got home.

    Sprint was next to check on their Android offerings. They had a Samsung (a slide like the Droid) and another HTC model the Hero. Screen wise the Hero was much better than the Samsung for me .

    T-Mobile has My Touch from HTC. Essentially Eris/Hero/My TOuch are the same phone, although there are small differences, battery life being less on the Eris being one.

    So home we came to do some research, some wallet jingling, and decided to do one thing…only to find out Verizon weren’t instant rebates but send in ones (and besides, waiting for a 30mins just for questions was long enough, so we left) so it was back to the “we don’t have $500-$700 sitting round atm” dance.

    I guess you didn’t need to know all that, lol, but what I’m getting at is all the above is available on other devices, and from our little experience yesterday the HTC Eris/Hero/My Touch are a pretty good (and cheaper) option to the Droid and of course being they run the same OS you get to choose from all of the above goodies that Gwen found.

    (And yes, I was downgraded to a blackberry, hubby was upgraded to one, and we switched to Sprint since it would save us 30-50/mth. No more touchscreens for me…well until 2011 :) )

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  6. Ciar Cullen
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:11:58

    I think I’m almost convinced that this would be a good idea for me. I’ve been reading ebooks exclusively as a new year’s resolution, but on my computer. It’s been a madcap adventure. Nice job, monkey!

    ReplyReply

  7. Bria Quinlan
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:23:28

    Ahhhhh Gwennifer, my heart pitter-patters with all types of jealous vibage.

    Well done on the post and making me want one!

    B to your G

    ReplyReply

  8. Mima
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:25:56

    Gwen, I appreciated the summary. As the last person on the planet to not own a cell, I’m not even sure how one would acquire these “apps”. I assume that each one has a cost for being uploaded to your phone? Was one cheaper than the others? Does the phone charge you for each app you acquire as well?

    ReplyReply

  9. Ember
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:36:30

    I love that there’s plug-n-copy between the Droid and your pc. I really like my iPhone, but not being able to transfer files through a cable can be a PITA. I use Calibre and do transfers wirelessly, but at least once a week I’ve got to stop and reboot the iPhone and/or my desktop before they’ll see each other – and it’s always when I just want to add something before I run out the door, and don’t have TIME to figure out which one needs a reboot.

    Great review Gwen – thanks for all the info :)

    ReplyReply

  10. gwen hayes
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 10:39:01

    @Mima:

    There are apps that cost money–I haven’t purchased any though.

    All these are free. There is a marketplace website that you can shop from directly from your phone, you click on the link and it downloads to your phone. Also, in the case of the eReader software, I went to the eReader.com website using the phone and clicked the download link.

    Someone who is proficient with the internet can usually handle the smartphone. I want to be a whole lot tech-ier than I actually am in practice, and I haven’t had any problems.

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  11. Kate
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 11:33:54

    A huge advantage to having a Droid (I just bought one) is being able to link to wireless networks as a separate computer. You’re losing a ton of functionality by ignoring this ability. It’s well worth finding your network key and setting the phone up to do this.

    Word-Player looks like my Sony ebook reader. I like the idea of text to speech. Especially since Kindle disabled theirs.

    So the only difference between the two is the ability to tag within the software? You know that you can change metadata in Calibre, correct? That’s how you set tagging up for the Sony. Since I already do it in Calibre for my ebook reader, I don’t really need it on the phone. I’ll give both apps a shot, but since WP seems more what I’m used to, plus supports WiFi, I’ll probably go with that one.

    ReplyReply

  12. Melissa Blue
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 12:49:49

    Gwen!

    Nothing else to add.

    ReplyReply

  13. gwen hayes
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 13:24:59

    @Kate:

    I took your advice and figured out how to connect to my home wifi. I wasn’t a Calibre user until trying out the different apps, so I can see how WP would be better for someone who already has their library set up and uses a Sony ebook reader.

    Veering the discussion–Kate, have you found any other apps that you like that have to do with reading?

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  14. Carly Carson
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 14:08:56

    >When they don't, I push more buttons really fast in random order and hope that takes care of it

    Hey, other people do this too? I’m not sure I’m too keen on reading books on the phone but if I do, this looks like a great guide. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  15. Chrissy
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 14:27:42

    I am insanely jealous. I’ve been trying to think, stop, and be responsible about my spending recently because really… it’s just wrong not to. But then Gwen got a Droid.

    Before me.

    And she likes it.

    I’d stop liking Gwen, but that’s virtually impossible.

    Dammit.

    ReplyReply

  16. Jennifer Leeland
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 14:44:02

    “What Gwen Said” will now be a world wide phenomenon.
    I love this!!! I’ve been coveting the Droid phone and was hoping it had a ereader app. You’re BRILLIANT and I thank you.

    ReplyReply

  17. Lainey Bancroft
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 15:39:27

    I mean, I love techy stuff, obviously, but I don't really understand what I'm doing. I push buttons and hope they work. When they don't, I push more buttons really fast in random order and hope that takes care of it.

    THIS! This is me! So, you button pushed, shopped, read and even answered a phone call?

    Seeing as I have an anniversary, Christmas AND a birthday all coming up in the next two months, I don’t think putting this on the top of the list is greedy, do you?

    ReplyReply

  18. Kate Pearce
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 18:08:34

    From someone who hates phones, even I understood this! Thanks Gwen, you rock!

    ReplyReply

  19. jodi
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 19:44:38

    for a “non” non-fiction writer, you did a good job, lol :)

    ReplyReply

  20. Likari
    Nov 22, 2009 @ 21:31:30

    echo: you did a great job!

    I have Verizon and I want, I want! Thanks for writing this. I’ve been buying my e books through Samhain’s store and the Sony store in epub, so it sounds like they’ll work here.

    ReplyReply

  21. Emmy
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 01:03:02

    just ordered my Droid. I bookmarked this post so I can come back to it Wednesday, when my Droid is supposed to arrive. another option if I don’t want to use the Sonys

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  22. Jess B.
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 12:32:29

    Thanks for writing this up Gwen! I’m not a big fan of Droid’s design, but I’ve definitely been Android-curious lately. Perhaps when a handset I’m more attracted to launches, I’ll switch up.

    One of the main reasons I was holding back was I couldn’t get any info on potential e-reading apps. Thanks again for covering them!

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  23. Rob Philip
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 22:38:12

    Gwen:

    A quick question for you. Have you looked at a Kindle yet? I just got one to try out, and I was a little surprised at how tiny the screen seems. 800×600 isn’t a lot bigger than the Droid’s 854×480…

    But the experience of reading is important. I wonder if you (or any other readers ) have had a chance to compare the two for ease of use/readability…

    thnx…

    ReplyReply

  24. gwen hayes
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 23:59:14

    @Rob Philip: Sorry, I’ve never even held a Kindle. I know a lot of people on here have them though. They can tell you more.

    I’m hoping for a Nook after the holidays.

    ReplyReply

  25. Rob Philip
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 00:04:26

    Thanks, Gwen.

    I had never held one either, before a couple of hours ago. Same screen size as a nook, I believe. I think I’m going to pick up a Droid tomorrow and compare the two side by side.

    I’ll add a comment here to let people know what I think.

    ReplyReply

  26. Ivan Chan
    Dec 25, 2009 @ 01:19:35

    Thanks for the review!

    I just downloaded eReader for my Droid–I’m pretty happy with the beta version (such as it is) except it doesn’t seem to be able to link to my dictionary and thesaurus (M-W 11th Collegiate versions) to look words up when I’m reading, and when I click on the dictionary or thesaurus, I just get a screen with a dialog box I can type in, but no definitions or synonyms are returned.

    I don’t know if you’ve had a similar problem. I’ve written eReader.com for support. If you have a similar problem and haven’t found a solution yet, I’ll be happy to share what I get from eReader.com.

    Thanks again!

    Ivan

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  27. Gwen Morse
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 04:10:42

    Hello from one Gwen with an Android phone to another :). I have the Milestone, which is the GSM version of the Droid.

    “Flinging” is just a proprietary was to describe flicking or pushing/pulling. You “fling” up your app drawer when you open it, and “fling” it down when you close it. To fling a page, you probably pull it “up” from the bottom to the top of the screen, or pull it “down” from the top to the bottom of the screen. Your article sounded like you didn’t know what motion to make so I thought I’d help out :).

    For Rob (asking about the Kindle) – the screen may “sound” like it’s close to the same size, but, when you read on it it looks much bigger.

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  28. C. T.
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 21:29:58

    Won’t let me download on Samsung – Galaxy which uses Droid apps. Says a security issue keeps it from downloading. So I will find another app to use. Kindle is good.

    ReplyReply

  29. iphone
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 22:50:44

    hello!,I like your writing so a lot! share we be in contact extra approximately your article on AOL? I need an expert in this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Having a look ahead to look you.

    ReplyReply

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