Using your phone as an e-Book reader

There has been a lot of buzz lately about the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader — new electronic-paper-based e-book readers that have a variety of features and advantages. Great. However, they’re both expensive. More annoyingly in my mind, they are also an additional device to lug around and keep charged. They will let you read all kinds of the latest and greatest stuff, I must admit.

However, what if you already had a good device for reading e-books? What if you wanted to read some classics or books released under Creative Commons licenses on it? Then you would be in luck!

A couple of months ago, Molly sent me a link to a new book released under a Creative Commons license, called Postsingular. A link from the book’s page led me to Books In My Phone. This site takes Creative Commons books and those out of copyright, loads them into a simple and effective e-Book reader that runs on J2ME, and makes it possible to download them directly on to your phone. I have so far read Postsingular, Walden, and part of Moby Dick on my phone, and am happy to report that it was a pleasant and engaging experience.

The reader is fairly well written, except for one thing. If you hit the back key when you have just opened the book, it loses your place and goes back to the beginning. This is not so awful as it sounds, for it is easy to skip from chapter to chapter and from page to page. Aside from that glitch, it’s easy to change the font size, page up and down, and (as mentioned) skip around the book. The reader is entirely self-contained (J2ME aside), and (with a few quirks) remembers your place when you exit!. This last item is overlooked in many readers and prevented me in the past from using my Treo devices to read e-Books.

Therefore, if you enjoy reading while waiting, commuting, or even in a bed or a chair, I recommend that you try reading something from Books In My Phone. If you like sci-fi, Postsingular is not a bad place to start.

Also, let me know if you find any books there that you’d like to recommend!