Got a BlackBerry? Here’s a round-up of some free BlackBerry apps that will turn your mobile phone into a proper eBook reader – not like Kindle or Sony Reader but close. Later, we looks at workarounds to help you catch up with business documents, downloaded web pages, PDFs, etc. on your BlackBerry from virtually anywhere.
Review of BlackBerry e-Book Readers
Following is a list of eBook readers currently available for BlackBerry – they are all free software and support most BlackBerry models including the latest ones like BlackBerry Bold and Storm.
1. eReader Pro – This eBook software from Barnes & Noble will help you browse and download books directly on to your BlackBerry device. It can read any of your existing eBooks that are written in the PDB format or you may download one of their free titles to get started.
Just connect the BlackBerry device to you computer, copy the PDB files on to the phone’s memory card, disconnect and you can now read this eBooks inside BlackBerry. The eReader software includes a handy search function, you can bookmark pages and it automatically remembers where you left off.
2. Short Covers – This is a unique online book store that provides both a desktop and a mobile interface for reading ebooks. That means you can buy an eBook from Short Covers and read part of that book on your desktop browser and the remaining part on your BlackBerry or another computer. These mobile and online interfaces are always in sync so you can pick up from where you left off on the previous device.
The first chapter of any ebook / magazine available on Short Covers is always free so you can easily decide whether you want to make the purchase. You can also upload your own Word Documents or HTML web pages to Short Covers and either sell this content as other ebooks or distribute it for free under a Creative Commons license.
The BlackBerry Reader software of Short Covers is not perfect yet though their online store and reading interface is pretty nice.
3. MobiPocket Reader – This ebook reader is from Amazon, the same company that develops the popular Kindle e-ink reader. With MobiPocket, you can read files of virtually any format in your BlackBerry including PDF documents, CHM Help files, HTML web pages and Microsoft Office formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
The eReader software supports annotations (or text highlighting), you can copy text from an eBook into the BlackBerry’s clipboard (useful for emailing snippets), add notes on individual pages, the layout margins are adjustable and you can quickly navigate around the book with simple keyboard shortcuts. Just perfect.
Using BlackBerry as a PDF Viewer
To read Adobe PDF files in your BlackBerry, you can simply send that file as an attachment to your own email address and then use the built-in PDF viewer of BlackBerry’s email client to read that document. The same idea may be used for reading Office documents, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, on the BlackBerry.
That’s one approach but if you have multiple PDF documents on your computer that you want to read on a BlackBerry, you may consider buying a standalone PDF viewer like the Documents to Go or Beam Reader. These apps can handle both PDF attachments and PDF documents stored on the memory card of your BlackBerry but they cost money so here’re some free alternatives.
Read PDFs & Office Documents on a BlackBerry as eBooks
Amazon owned Mobipocket eBook Reader comes with a free Windows application to help you manage your entire eBook library from the desktop. This app has a built-in tool to convert Office Documents, PDFs, HTML pages, etc. into eBooks that your BlackBerry ebook reader can understand.
So all you have to do is import documents into the Mobipocket Reader bookshelf (see screenshot) and connect the BlackBerry to the computer. It can’t get simpler than this.
Save HTML Web Pages as BlackBerry eBooks
If you like to read offline web pages (say a long article that you downloaded from The New York Times website) on your BlackBerry, try Stanza Desktop – you probably know Stanza for their popular eBook reader for iPhone that was recently acquired by Amazon.
With Stanza Desktop, you can open any web page directly in the application and export it into a format that can be read on most mobile devices. It support epub, Palm PDB, Microsoft LIT, Adobe PDF and most other popular ebook file formats.
Unlike Mobipocket, Stanza formats web content (and Office documents) like a real book (sans any distracting elements) and you are therefore very likely to enjoy this layout for reading. You may transfer these Stanza ebooks into BlackBerry via MobiPocket Desktop.
How to Create eBooks for BlackBerry from Scratch
The tools and techniques discussed about are more about conversion but if you like to create an eBook from scratch for reading on a BlackBerry, check out Mobipocket Creator.
It’s a free application that lets you create eBooks from scratch using text files, PDFs, Word documents and images. You may preview the eBook in a local simulator before publishing it to the world.
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