How to Read eBooks on Almost Any Phone

Read an eBook on my mobile phone? I'll admit I was skeptical at first. TCBR Although I've been reading books on a Palm OS PDA for years it has a relatively large 3 inch screen. I thought downgrading to the mobile's 1.9" screen would make reading impossibly painful. I quickly discovered that I was wrong. I found that I could read just as fast and with as much enjoyment on the smaller screen as with the PDA or even a printed book. Sounds impossible, but I think having a limited amount of text on the screen helps me focus. With a larger screen or a real book, I would frequently skip back to re-read something and then have to search to find my place again. The small screen discourages back-skipping which I discovered I didn't really need to do for good comprehension. Because the small screen holds just the right amount of text (around 240 characters) to read at a single glance I never loose my place. One of the techniques taught in speed reading classes is to pace yourself by following the text with your finger. The small screen seems to have a similar effect for me.

Reading mobile eBooks hasn't really caught on yet in the West but it's very big in Japan where mobile eBook sales totaled $58 million US dollars last year. By way of comparison, eBook sales of all kinds in the US in 2005 were only $12 million and I'm sure mobile sales amounted to only a small percentage of that total.

So how does one go about reading eBooks on a phone? Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian users have a number of free readers to choose from. Two of the best are Mobipocket and eReader which both support DRM'ed books meaning that you can purchase and read current best sellers. Mobipocket also has a reader for most recent Blackberrys. Some good smartphone readers for unprotected content are Plucker (Palm) and readM (S60). Almost all the smartphone readers support a full range of formating like bold, italic, images and multiple fonts in the same document and they can read books in many formats without conversion.

Don't have a smartphone? Java ME based readers work on almost any phone. There are at least two mobile websites that offer free Java eBooks for download. Manybooks ( m.manybooks.net) has over 17,000 classic and Creative Commons licensed books and Wattpad (m.wattpad.com) has about 1700 books and documents uploaded by users. I tried both these sites but neither really worked for me. Most books from Manybooks were too large (over 180KB) to load on my phone. Wattpad offers the option to split books into 64 or 128 KB chunks which should have worked but I got a "VM Class Loading Error" trying to run the books on both a Motorola i855 and a Z8. An old Nokia 3650 at least loaded the books but the Wattpad reader only let me read the first pages before it refused to page down any more! I know that books from both these sites do work on many phones so I recommend trying them first. Downloading books OTA is certainly the easiest way to get books on a phone.

Update 6-July-2011:  The Avast virus scanner on my PC is reporting that the TequilaCat.org web site is currently infected and distributing malicious software.  I've removed the links to the site from this post and posted a scanned and verified clean copy of the TequilaCat Reader and Desktop Shell here: wapreview.com/dwnld/TequilaCat BookReaderConverter.zip

Update 21-July-2014: The Tequilacat.org site is now deemed safe by Avast. I'm still not linking to it as it's gotten hacked and distributed malware at least twice in the last three years. Use at your own risk,

Eventually I found TCBR (tequilacat.org/dev/br/index-en.html) which stands for TequilaCat Book Reader. It worked perfectly on all my phones. TCBR is a powerful and user friendly piece of software. The way it works is that you run a program called TCBR Shell on a Windows PC to create a custom Java Midlet containing one or more eBooks. The shell knows the capabilities of many popular phones so in most cases the only configration needed is picking the brand and model of your phone from a dropdown. If your phone is not listed, choosing the Generic MIDP 2 option for current phones or Generic MIDP 1 for older ones and a maximum jar size of 64 KB seems to always work. If the book you are building is larger than the maximum, TequilaCat Shell will split it up into multiple files. I think TequilaCat is the only Java app that has worked on every single phone I've tried.

 TequilaCat Shell

Creating a book with TCBR Shell is easy. You can either drag and drop files on the TCBR window or click Add and browse for files. A preview pane lets you view the book to check formatting. Once you've selected your files, press Create to build your Midlet.

By itself, Tequilacat can only create Java books from plain text files, but the latest version (2.2.8) uses plugins to support other formats. The Tequilacat website (http://tequilacat.org/dev/br/help.html) has links to plugins handling HTML, PDF, Aportis DOC, RTF, TCR and Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents. The Shell's file browse will only show files that can be converted using the filters you have installed.

Once you've created the Midlet all that's left is to copy the .jad and .jar files to your phone using Bluetooth, a data cable or by uploading it to a mobile file sharing site like Mobango and then downloading it to your phone.

It a bit of a shame that there is no way to legally read copyrighted best sellers on non-smartphones. I think the eBook vendors are missing an opportunity by not selling eBooks in Java Midlet form. However, there is plenty of good free reading available. In the US, any book published before 1911 is out of copyright and freely distributable. More and more writers are releasing books under the various Creative Commons licenses. Lately I've enjoyed several Creative Commons books by Cory Doctorow, an excellent science fiction writer. I particularly liked his novel Down and out in the Magic Kingdom and his latest work Overclocked, a collection of short stories. Most of Cory Doctorow's books are available from Manybooks and Wattpad. They can also be found in formats compatible with TCBR on the author's site and at Project Gutenberg.

 

126 thoughts on “How to Read eBooks on Almost Any Phone

  1. Hello my family member! I want to say that this post is amazing, great written and include approximately all important infos.
    I'd like to look more posts like this .
  2. thanks dennis for the suggestion. but all the links you have provided deals with epub files whereas i am using fb2 files which has to be read with foliant in my samsung phone.
  3. Hai Dennis,
    I have converted a pdf book with calibre to FB2 format so that i can read it in my samsung c6712. but the converted book shows unrecognised characters instead of the original. the book is in Malayalam with full of illustrations which is a regional language in India.the script is entirely different from english. please help me. is there any special options in calibre so that the output will be ok?
  4. UREKA!Dennis,how happy i am. i finally found out the way.
    well i tapped the top line, select files-then it says-" foliant may access read user data continue?" i selected >allow.then it goes to> drives <under which listed are-- filesystem, graphics, mms, music, photo,and record.
    here is the problem . my phone does not search for files in the memory card. instead it wants files in the above mentioned folders of the phone memory. i moved the fb2 files to one of the folders listed above and the result is positive.now i would request you to suggest some of the english titles which attracted you.thanks and have a nice day.
  5. it is heard that without a reader a jar file can be read by java enabled phone. so i tried traquilacat. with the shell i converted a book . then i copied it to the memory card. when tried to install it in the phone it says not certified. not installed.
  6. "After you select the FB2 files filer, tap the top line where it says Select Files and it should open a file browser that lets you drill down into the memory card (which may be labeled drive E:/ rather than memory card) and select the book file."

    well i tapped the top line, select files-then it says-" foliant may access read user data continue?" i selected >allow.then it goes to> drives <under which listed are-- filessystem, graphics, mms, music, photo,and record. i tapped filesystem and get add folder content with a plus sign.if tap there nothing happens. i tapped ok btn and it says the error message " java language null pointer---". may be the reader is incompatible with this device ia have made a search in google to find out any help regarding the reader suitable for this particular model of samsung but failed to get any.even the model's mannual does not have a reference to ebook reading.
  7. i have never read a book on a mobile device. i have got a pdf file in my samsung mobile c 6712. it came when i installed foliant. it is about open source announcement. when i tried to read it is not confined to the screen width. i have only three option goto , brightness, and details.is it the same condition in a ebook reader also? that i have to move every lines with my fingers to read it ?what i mean is can we get the lines within the screen width with a reasonable font size so that we can read the lines without moving towards right on every line.
  8. ok. i copied all the books to the phone memory in the games folder. now when i repeated the steps suggested by you, ( i tapped the add book icon.add a folder search for files. selected fb2. got a green tick mark. then tapped ok. then get error message
    "java lang null pointer exception 0"
  9. opened foliant.Tapped the Add Book icon.i get select files,
    Tapped Select Files,underneath which i get file filter, below this i see a list-text files, fb2 files,archives,and then other files. i tapped fb2 files.there is a green tick mark. but then nothing happens.i am not able to go to the folder in which the book is stored, actually it is stored in the memory card and the application is installed in games folder of the phone. is it necessary to store the book in the same folder of the phone memory?
    • After you select the FB2 files filer, tap the top line where it says Select Files and it should open a file browser that lets you drill down into the memory card (which may be labeled drive E:/ rather than memory card) and select the book file.
  10. i copied the foliant.jar to my memory card in others folder.then i have installed foliant in my phone.though i have copied some fb2(converted with calibre)books also to the memory card in the same folder. but i am not able to open with foliant. the installed application is stored in games folder.the library is empty- it says. how can i add the books to the library?.when i first pointed to the books it says not supported format. then what is the supported format in this phone?
    • To add books to the Folian library
      1 Start Foliant
      2 Tap the Add Book icon (second icon from the left. Looks like a book with a plus sign on it)
      3 Tap Select Files and browse to the folder containing the book (.fb2 or .txt format)
      4 Tap the book's filename
      5 Tap Add to Library
  11. thanks a lot for the quick reply.kindly ask another one.
    I have installed calibre in my computer. the calibre mannual says--->
    Open Calibre and select the e-book to convert in the
    library list.
    Connect your e-book reader to your computer. Calibre
    takes a moment to detect and scan your e-book reader.
    Click the 'Send to device' button in the top tool bar.
    Calibre is smart enough to know if the book is in a format
    supported by your reader. If it’s not, it will ask you if you
    want to auto convert it. Say yes, and it will take care of
    the conversion and put the book on your reader.
    That’s all there is to it. Doing it is easier than it sounds because
    all you need to do is select the book you want on your device

    now that i have samsung c6712, i have to use foliant. so if i install it on my mobile. then to add a fb2 ebook to my mobile, what to do? as per the instructions above, i have to connect the device(the mobile phone in which the foliant has been installed?). but since they have not provided the data cable with the phone, i am not able to connect the phone to the computer. instead i can store the fb2 ebook to my memory card through a card reader. then if i put the card in the phone will it read? thanks
  12. I have samsung GT C6712 dualsim phone.
    i have got the foliant jar folder.what to do next? should i copy the jar folder to the memory card of my phone?. then what to do for the installation? kindly give a detailed instruction please.
    • I don't have that phone so I can't give you specific instructions.
      Try copying the jar to the memory card and opening it with the phone's file manager.
  13. thanks alot for thequick reply dennis. kindly put some more instructions as to use the softwares. you suggested three softs viz calibre,foliant, and TCBR. i have samsung c6712 with me. i have some pdf ebooks with me.now tell me how ican convert them into java format and use it in my mobile. do you think that java based ebook will much lighter as compared to pdf format i mean the filesize? thanks and have a nice day ahead.
  14. the description is very useful and illustrative.using samsung c 6712 dual sim mobile.how can i install a java book reader in it and what programme is the best? also provide information as to how to convert pdf format ebook to java? thanks a lot and have a nice day.
    • The Samsung c 6712 runs Java apps so any of the Java ebook readers (Wattpad, Manybooks, TCBR) mentioned in the post is likely to work, as is Foliant which is a newer touch screen optimized Java reader (review and download links at http://blog.wapreview.com/8651/ ).

      TCBR can import PDF's and the Open Source PC app Calibre, which is available for Windows, Linux and OS X, can convert PDFs and many other formats into FB2 or text formats supported by Foliant.
    • I'm not familiar with that phone but I can't find any mention that it comes with an eBook reader. But if there's no eBook reader, try installing one of the Java eBook apps mentioned in the post (Wattpad, Manybooks or TCBR) or Foliant which is a touch obtimized Java eBook reader. It's mentioned and there's a download link in this post: http://blog.wapreview.com/8651/ along with th
  15. Thnx for your post.. it was very helpful and for being patient and answering the same question everytime...
    my question is ... Is there any ebook reader for Touch screen phones... Samsung Chamo Duos (GT-E2652)
  16. Hello ,
    i have Samsung gt s3310 model and i am big fans of reading books on mobile ,Would you please tell where can i get the ebook reader for my mobile .
  17. Sir,how can i use plug in for pdf in tequilacat reader?i downloaded the shell and the plug in,but the shell can't find the pdf files...or,can u prescribe a pdf to text converter?i tried some,but all of them rearrange the texts of the pdf format and make the text format without any sequence..i use Nokia c3.thanks......
    • I need more information to answer that. Fido is a Canadian mobile operator not book bookreader app or make or model of phone. The format depends on which bookreader you are using.
  18. Hello sir,
    I have a nokia C3 .. What platform doe it support? what do u think are the files it will support for ebook viewing? and where can i get the software for these?

    Thank you very much!
  19. i have samsung gt c 3303i .how can i read ebook?which format is best for this? which web is best for hindi e book.
    • The Samsung Champ 3303i runs Java apps so any of the Java readers mentioned in the post (Wattpad, Manybooks or TCBR) should work. However, my PC virus scanner is currently reporting that the TCBR site is infected so I'd stay away from that one.

      Another one to consider is Foliant (link and discussion at http://blog.wapreview.com/8651/ ) which is a touch screen optimized eBook Reader.

      Format doesn't really make any difference, whichever format your reader supports is what you need to use.

      I don't read or speak Hindi so I can't help you with finding Hindi books.

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