Monday, May 1, 2000

Hooked on classics


By Steve Niles

One of the new advancements available on the Pocket PC is Microsoft Reader, featuring ClearType. What ClearType does is sharpen and clear text characters, creating what the PR people are calling an "immersive reading experience." Microsoft Reader designs a screen view based on the look of an actual page in a printed book, doing away with the clutter of icons and scroll bars and adding wide margins and justified text.

"There's no need to wait until you've scraped together enough pennies to buy a new Pocket PC."

The goal of Microsoft Reader is to make the ebook reading experience as close as possible to reading an ordinary paper and ink book. If they are as successful as their accountants hope they'll be, the ebook could soon experience a surge in popularity.

However, there's no need to wait until you've scraped together enough pennies to buy a new Pocket PC. There are applications available for use on the machine you already own that will allow you to enjoy the reading pleasure of an ebook.

One of these applications is bReady from the BSQUARE Corporation. To find a selection of classic titles in the bReady format, visit May's Windows CE Power Site of the Month, Geno's eBook Library, at

Creator Gene Dahilig has put together a collection of 190 titles to date including Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, L. Frank Baum's The Emerald City of Oz, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Figure A gives a peek at more of the library's titles. To the best of his knowledge, all the books in his collection are in the public domain, and most of them were taken from the Project Gutenberg Web site, found at


Geno's eBook Library provides a wide selection of classic titles. (click for larger image)

The Project Gutenberg site is well known for its work at preserving great literature and making it available to all people with the belief that "anything that can be entered into a computer can be reproduced indefinitely."

What Gene Dahilig has done is to take those texts and convert them into an ebook format using BSQUARE's Text Import Wizard. If you're interested, Dahilig describes this process in detail on his Web site. The result is a document that can be accessed using the bReady view, available free on BSQUARE's Web site,

For ideas on what books to add to his ebook library, Dahilig just looks to his wife's personal collection of classic literature. He says producing the site has broadened his own literary horizons and encourages others who might shun anything not on the current bestseller list to try these oldies but goodies. "Remember," he says, "you can't tell a book by its bitmap!!!"