I enjoy reading novels on my phones, particularly when traveling. I’m always on the lookout for new eBook readers particularly for Symbian^3 and Java feature phones where there aren’t many good options. A reader pointed me to Albite, a new mobile Java eBook reading app that comes in several versions including one optimized for Symbian touchscreen devices.
Albite reader is a free open source (Apache 2.0 license) app by Svetlin Ankov. Download it from albite.vlexofree.com (mobile download site: m.albite.vlexofree.com). The key feature of Albite is that it’s the first free Symbian or Java reader that supports the open ePub book format, which is becoming the dominant standard for free eBooks
There are five versions of Albite with varying features that range in size from 186 KB to 908 KB to support a variety of devices. Albite requires the Java ME File Access API (JSR-75) which it needs to open books from the file system. Because Albite is unsigned and many feature phones don’t allow unsigned apps to access phone memory books may need to be stored on the memory card.
I tried the largest “HD” version on my Nokia N8 and was generally pleased with the results. I had no trouble opening ePub books from sevaral different sources. Albite uses an attractive anti-aliased serif font with several font sizes available. Page margins, line spacing and hyphenation mode are all configurable. There’s table of contents, image and bookmark support. Albite offers several optional free dictionaries that can be installed and used to lookup unfamiliar words. Tapping the center on the screen toggles full-screen mode (image, rught) on and off.
By default, Albite uses animation to simulate the turning of pages in a dead tree book, which I found annoyingly slow. Turning off smooth scrolling and setting scrolling speed to the maximum in the settings makes pages flip instantly, which I prefer.
A couple of features I missed were full text search and the ability to turn off full justification. I switch phones often and text search makes it easy to find my place when I switch devices. I prefer a jagged right margin to the uneven word spacing that justification causes especially on small screens (see top image for an example).
In summary, Albite reader is an excellent choice if you are looking for an eBook reader for your Symbian or Java phone. The attractive fonts, uncluttered full-screen mode and ePub support are Albite’s strengths. And if you are looking for some good books to read, the Albite desktop and mobile sites have a selection of free eBooks from Project Gutenberg in to download in ePub format.