Friday, November 21, 2008

eTextReader makes reading Project Gutenberg books easier


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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