Investigating ebook technology and other digital 'contents' for PDA, especially Pocket PC (...and iPod)
(updated April 4, 04)
multi formats one stop
shopping site, include non fiction and exclusive short fictions.
the best free ebook site in several
3. PeanutPress, award winning ebook store
for PDA, friendly DRM solutions.
eSummaries that deliver wisdom. Perfect for PDA users.
5. eBookAd, many indies label are here
Univ. of Virginia
Library, Free ebooks
7. FreeeLiterature dot com,
classics for free
8. Memoware, free documents from
ESSPC, great place to
start your collection (Free)
10.The Online Book Page,
from U.Penn. new
Recommended eBooks from my ebook shelf
(email me for 10%
Don't Know Much About History
Dirty Little Secrets
Killing The Buddha
The Get With the Program! Guide to Fast Food and Family Restaurants
Star Trek Series
Angels and Demons
Holly Bible NIV ed.
Da Vinci Code
Letters to Penthouse XIX
Letters to Penthouse XVIII
7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom
Against All Enemies
eBook Mail List/Newsgroup:
Pocket PC Links:
iPod Links: new
Pocket PC eBooks Watch - eBook and beyond
E-books in .PDB format 101.
If you have been reading e-books for (nearly) any length of time, you will undoubtedly have met the file extension “.PDB”. You may have tried to read such a file in your e-book reader and experienced an error message or what looked as a corrupt display. You may or may not know that this is a so-called "Palm e-book format", meaning that the format originally were made to be used on a Palm PDA.
The PDB extension refers to a Palm database format (all Palm files are called "database" files - also program files). The Palm operating system supports only two file extensions in main memory: .PDB and .PRC [the newer Palm PDAs can read other file types from memory cards, most notably MP3 and OGG music files (but not from main memory)]. PDB files are always data files, whereas PRC files can be either program or data files (MobiPocket e-books use this extension, as do some Palm readers, eg. TealDoc reader). While there are only two file extensions to worry about, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of incompatible file types using the PDB extension. In other words, PDB can mean anything: ebooks in MobiPocket, eReader, iSilo, TomeRaider, Weasel, TealDoc, Plucker to mention a few of the most well-known formats – and, you guessed it, none of these readers can read e-books made for any of the others. And to make the confusion complete, the PDB extension also cover a variety of Palm database data files, configuration files, converted Adobe PDF files, photos, sound and whatnot.
Palm applications never get confused: starting with byte number 60, they simply read four bytes telling the file type and four bytes giving a unique application code - I mention this as this is also the only way (apart from the time-tested "trial and error" method) you can determine what kind of file you "hold in your hand", eg. Palm DOC format "TEXtREAd", iSilo "ToGoToGo" (the original name of the reader was ToGo in case you wondered) and "SDocSilX", eReader "PNRdPPRs", Mobi "BOOKMOBI"…
There is a common format: The original so-called “Palm DOC format” (PDB) is a simple format with little compression that can be read by all e-book readers, except Plucker (a Palm-only reader). The files are unencrypted and you can easily (and legally) find free utilities that can create Palm DOC files from ASCII text files and de-convert them back to text (whether the de-conversion in itself is legal depends on the copyright notice of the e-book); I use a DOS program called makedoc8 (http://makedoc.tripod.com/) or one of my own programs (you can find it on the Internet if you realy want it, but it is made to be tiny (410 bytes) and is not userfriendly at all: prc2txt). The palm DOC format does not in itself support HTML - well, MobiPocket ingeniously cheats by supporting embedded HTML codes, meaning that it is really up to the application to provide the support. FictionWise is the only large publisher to sell books in Palm DOC format. You can find readers that can read Palm DOC files for many Sharp and Psion PDAs.
Wouldn't it be easier if they all used the same format and the readers just competed on functionality? You have undoubtedly guessed the answer: Each individual format has its own advantages and disadvantages: Some offer a protected format (DRM) and some don’t – if the author insists on DRM, that’s it. Some compresses the books more than others (I like carrying a large library on an SD card). Most e-book creator programs are free, but some charge you for the easy-to-use version. Some allows you to compile an e-book of web-sites a la AvantGo (most notably iSilo and Plucker – visit http://www.mobileread.com if you use either of these). Some deliver a desktop reader as well (nice for checking out a book before transferring it to the PDA). Some support HTML, some RTF and some use their own formatting language. Some are better at reference material than others (TomeRaider). Don't ask which one is best – they are of course all good, so try a number of them yourself to find out what is good for you: check everything from filesize to functionality of bothreaders and creator programs (if you want to make your own e-books from books, reference material, web-sites …).
Here you probably wonder how many e-book formats there are out there in use today in total (not just Palm formats): to get an idea (and to get a free e-book), visit http://craphound.com/down/download.php delivering an e-book in 24 formats (including ASCII and HTML)! (Note that there are two more free e-books at that site).
Readers who want to try the readers mentioned in this article on their Palm or Pocket-PC should visit:
If you have a Palm PDA, also look at:
MemoWare has a very useful table here http://www.memoware.com/mw.cgi/?screen=help_create.
posted by Jorgen permanent link