Ebook Reader

So I’ve been using my PocketPC to read books lately, and since I was able to get it in Microsoft lit format I decided to give that Microsoft Reader thing a try. And I have to say that it greatly improves the experience of reading a digital book on a tiny screen! I love the ability to bookmark pages, highlight passages and make notes! It’s great, but…

Well, it’s Microsoft application and it was not designed to make your life easier. It’s quite opposite – the lit file format was created in order to introduce nasty DRM controls into the world of ebooks. Of course Doctorow’s book does not include DRM, but just the idea of this thing being used that way gives me the creeps. And the saddest part is that I haven’t seen any good alternative out there. Sure – there are ebook readers for open formats out there, but none of them allows you to easily mark up pages, insert bookmarks and notes.

How hard could it be? I think all it would take is to store a small datafile along with your plaintext file which somehow annotates user bookmarks and comments… I don’t know – store relative position from the beginning of the file in bytes? Store it by line number? Ideally I would love to be able to share my bookmarks and notes with others – perhaps store this info in an XML format?

Major drawback here is that if you want sharable notes, everyone using them has to use the same copy of the book. If they got their plaintext version from another source they might have it formated differently and hence your bookmarks will be off target. This is an interesting idea. I smell a little summer project for myself 🙂 Er… Besides my research that is…

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