Friday, November 21, 2008

eTextReader makes reading Project Gutenberg books easier

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Project Gutenberg is one of my favorite sites on the Internet. Those who have heard this name for the first time (go stand in the corner!), Project Gutenberg is a voluntary organization that digitizes, archives and distributes books which are mostly in the public domain. Founded in 1971, it is the oldest digital library with a collection of over 25,000 free books and a grand total of 100,000 books at Project Gutenberg Partners, Affiliates and Resources.

My biggest gripe with Project Gutenberg, apart from the fact that I have to read it off a monitor, is the format with which Gutenberg distributes the books. These books are available in a single ridiculously long text file with  a horrible font that makes reading an extremely painful activity. Then I discovered a wonderful program called eTextReader.

eTextReader is a program that automatically splits the plain text Project Gutenberg files into pages and displays it in a 2-page book layout. The program can open Text files, HTML, RTF, Palm DOC, OpenOffice/StarOffice SXW, simple XML, MS Word DOC files, also directly from within zip archives. Multiple files/books can be opened and joined.

etext reader

The look and format of the page is customizable - you can change the fonts, sizes, color, page margin etc. You can bookmark up to three pages to return back later, create a table of contents, add annotations etc. You can customize each book separately; the customizations are stored in individual .INI files.

There are a handful of keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation like, the arrow keys to move forward and backward by a single page, PageUp and PageDown to move forward or backward by 10 pages. The spacebar moves forward 2 pages at a time and gives the impression of a page turn.

eTextReader prevents accidental editing of the file because the viewer is read only. However, if you need to edit a file, there is a File Editor.

This application is highly recommend to those who frequently read Project Gutenberg books.

eTextReader latest version 1.91 is a beta release but has better features than the previous stable release 1.82. In order to use version 1.91 you have to first install version 1.82.

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