Apr 01 AT 12:00 PM Eric Weiss 18 Comments

FBReaderJ E-Book Reader For Android

I have been intrigued with e-books ever since I had my first PDA, the Palm V. Unfortunately I seem to be in the minority. We have the technology to carry around our entire music collection in our pocket but there hasn’t been much interest in carrying around all of our reading material. Sure, there is the newly released Kindle 2 but I find it too bulky and who wants to carry around yet another device. For me, to be able to read a book on my G1 would be ideal. It’s always with me, it fits in the palm of my hand and it has a nice clear screen. Thankfully, we have FBReaderJ.

About FBReaderJ

About FBReaderJ

Version: 0.3.0
Developed by: Academy of Modern Software Engineering
Price: Free
File size: 536k

FBReaderJ is a port of FBReader partially done as a student project at the russian Academy of Modern Software Engineering. It is not as robust as FBReader but within it’s simplicity lies it’s elegance.

After installing, the program reads .oeb, .epub and .fb2 files from within sdcard/Books. The .epub format seems to be the more popular for english text and the closest to a “standard”. I was able to find a wide variety of books for free legally including Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” and just about any classic literature I could think of. There are also several online stores where one can purchase .epub files (although many of these sites don’t seem to understand the concept and offer a discount of only a few dollars when compared to a paperback). Both Google, Sony and Project Gutenberg have been moving towards the .epub format. A good resource I found is ePub Books. The drawback is that it seems that most people are moving towards using .pdf for online publishing and, alas, Android has yet to see a fully functioning and reliable .pdf reader.

White or Black Text - Your Choice.

White or Black Text - Your Choice.

I did find FBReaderJ easy to use. You can sort your collection by Author or by Tag (which is the genre), though I found it odd that you can not sort by Title. The text is sharp and crisp and the program offers a plethora of options so you can tweak the settings to find one you like. This includes type styles, size, line spacing, alignment, etc. One option that should be commended is the choice to use the volume control on the side of the G1 to turn the pages. The position of the switch is perfect whether the device is in your left or right hand and is quicker and more reliable than a finger swipe across the screen. FBReaderJ does support linked footnotes but not images in .epub files.

FBReaderJ is not available on the Market at this time. The only way to get it is to download the Android Package from the website or from freshmeat.net. After transferring it to your device through the USB cable you can then install it using a file management program (I used Astro available free from the Market). Make sure you allow non-Market applications to be installed by checking Settings -» Applications -» Unknown Sources.

Many of FBReaderJ’s problems are not it’s fault. The e-book is still in flux. There doesn’t seem to be a fixed standard and I can understand the difficulty in keeping up with it all and the work that goes into adding new compatibility to software.

I don’t think any e-book reader is ready to replace a good paperback any time soon, but I’m definitely going to keep FBReaderJ and a couple e-books loaded on my G1.

Eric Weiss is a graphic artist, Red Sox fan, and Android devotee in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter: txhoudini

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • nEx.Software

    I actually discovered this a couple months ago as I was preparing for a reading assignment for a course I am taking. I don’t read, let alone read actual books, but this was great to be able to read for a couple minutes whenever I got the chance. The preferences screens were somewhat difficult to manage but I did OK and ended up with an enjoyable experience. Of course the book was not outstanding but that’s not the application’s fault.

  • abrizz

    You are not alone in liking ebooks. I used to read on my Palm 3 and later my palm V as well. One of the most common devices right now with ebook applications is the ipod touch/iphone which has quite a few great reader applications. Stanza and Ereader both look great and I imagine they will pretty soon be available on android also.
    I don’t have an android phone myself just yet but I wonder if the screen is large enough? I have tried the ipod touch and it’s screen seem to be as small as is really usable.

    • http://twitter.com/txhoudini txhoudini

      The downside to reading books on your phone is the screen size. I found that with FBReaderJ and the option of having the volume control on the side go to the next page over came this. The response was super quick and it didn’t break my concentration at all even though there were more “pages” than a paperback.

  • http://www.digisal.com Sal

    I set freaderj up on a friends G1 so she can read the Twilight books but her constant gripe is that it does not remember where she left off. she has to scroll back to where she was.

    But maybe thats the books problem?

    I used ABC Lit Converter to put it in epub format.

    She still uses it though. On book 3 of 4.

    • http://twitter.com/txhoudini txhoudini

      I did not have this problem with FBReaderJ with the books I downloaded. I did not convert any books on my home though so I suspect that would be the weak link for your friend, but who knows… From what I read it looks like the formats are constantly changing and its a constant battle for the content providers and software developers to stay current.

  • http://www.craiggunderson.com/blog/ Gunderstorm

    How does this compare to Panda Reader?

  • http://www.en.mtoy.pl mtoy

    There is also excellent ebook reader (J2ME) and creator. It is not very popular but has nice features and allows to create and read ebooks with images.

    • http://www.craiggunderson.com/blog/ Gunderstorm

      Okay… why don’t you tell us the name of it?

  • Carmex

    hm any idea why they haven’t published this on the market? Maybe they don’t want to fork over the $25 for a dev account, which I can totally understand, especially if you are a starving student. Doesn’t Android and Me have a developer account? Maybe you guys could offer to publish it for them?

  • bookmunkie

    I would say Ereader is a fine replacement for dead tree books. I’ve been using it since my first Palm m130, and it’s easy to format books for it yourself using their markup language and DropBook. Last I read they’re working on a version for Android. Their format hasn’t changed a bit in all the years that I’ve done my reading on a screen. Sounds quite a bit more stable than epub

  • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

    No one liked my Palm V video?

  • Ari Tafari

    Eric – Great review.

    I discovered FBReaderJ a couple of days ago and I have since downloaded 10 books mostly classics. All in the ePub format.

    I agree it is simple and straightforwad. I find the best download site to be Project Gutenberg.

    Ari Tafari

  • Gammax

    presonally I like real books.

  • http://hircus.wordpress.com/ Michel S.

    Nice review! I tried earlier versions of FBReaderJ, when it was still a bit too sluggish to be really usable, but will probably give it a try again.

    I like Project Gutenberg, and it’s unmatched for breadth, but for good formatting, I’d recommend Feedbooks

  • Pingback: #AskAndy – Your Android Questions Answered Volume 1 – Android and Me()

  • Pingback: #AskAndy – Your Android Questions Answered Volume 1 : Game scope()