FBReader: Open Source eBook Reader

I got a hankering for an today. I have one on my cell phone and decided it would be nice to have one on my computer, mainly because readers remember where you left off.

Plus I’ve long been a fan of Project Gutenberg and I decided I was wasting too much time with reruns of televison murder mysteries when I could be reading murder mysteries. I Googled “ebook reader ” and found FBReader, which was designed for Google Android, but also runs on Linux desktops. There’s even a version. It is free and open source.

It reads a large number of formats, including text, HTML, and Plucker. Since I have been getting mostly HTML or text files, it looked like it would fill the bill.

When you first open it up, it defaults to the main library view. Books may be categorized, arranged by series, and tagged:

FBReader Main Page

Here is a picture of it in book-reading mode:


The menu bar is context-sensitive:

FBReader Menu

And the preferences provide a rich selection of choices, including the background color, font and text size, and options for the different styles (first line, paragraph, and so on) that may be contained within an ebook.

FBReader Preferences

Since it was originally written for use on a cellphone platform, then ported to a desktop version, it’s not big on eye candy. I also found that I had to reduce the font size and increase the margin size to make it more usable; the defaults are designed to take advantage of every pixel of the application’s window, which is usual in cell phone apps. The font was too big (it would have been fine on a phone) and the margins were too small.

You can see some screenshots of the phone version here.

I also downloaded and looked at the Windows version. It installed quickly and seems to be fully functional, but I didn’t actually load up a book in it. I did notice that the icons are slightly different.

By the way, this is the book I’m reading.

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