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The Compulsive eBook Reader

Although I generally carry my Palm Tungsten with me everywhere I go in case I have a spare moment to read one of the many ebooks loaded on my compact flash card, I have found myself in situations where I don’t have it but have computer access. My flash drive is on my keyring and so is always in my pocket. So, when I’m wrapped up in a good book that I just can’t put down (or sometimes it’s an entire series: Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels – I read all 10 in less than 1 month, I highly recommend it!), I’ve found some backup solutions for those critical times when I can’t use the Palm but have access to a computer.

This is my software arsenal:

DOC Reader

I have been using DocReader for years. It’s a Windows software that reads Palm format books (pdb) as well as text files and allows you to convert between the two. Mostly, I used it to convert txt files to Palm format before uploading them to my Palm. But I realized that this is a completely portable application. It creates an ini file in its own directory and it’s very small (511 Kb). It’s simple to use and supports the most important features for avid ebook readers:

  1. Bookmark management for marking where you left off
  2. Background colour and font size and colour control for easier reading
  3. Keeps a list of recently opened books for quick access

VLC Media Player

This is great for audiobooks! You can download audiobooks ready-made or you can make your own with Text-To-Speech software. One of my favorites is TextAloud. TextAloud and other similar software will read your text file into an MP3 which you can then load onto your flash drive (or Palm or iPod, etc).

Foxit PDF Reader

Although I avoid reading ebooks in Adobe PDF format like the plague, there are times when I just have no choice. I long abandoned using Adobe’s Palm Reader on my Palm since it always did a pitiful job at converting the original PDF for use on the Palm (I would often be missing text and it would often hang during conversion when the file was too big) and I just found the quality poor and the software was slow.(NOTE: for Palm users out there, there is a new alternative to Adobe Palm Reader, called PalmPDF which doesn’t require converting the PDF and it supports adding bookmarks, I’ll be trying it out soon!) Foxit, however, is quick! And there is no conversion required. It’s simply a speedy portable alternative to Adobe Reader. Keep in mind though that you can’t add bookmarks of where you left off reading neither can you adjust the background colour nor the font. You can only zoom in or zoom out.

Hope this helps other compulsive readers out there. Now, I have several options available for when I just can’t put that book down. Only problem now is that the next Jack Reacher book is going to be released only in 2007! I guess I should have stretched out my reading…

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