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By Andy Kaiser  /  
2010 July 12 - 12:00 am

TECHNOLOGY TODAY: You Can Read on an iPod

Though it takes a little bit of work, reading e-Books on an iPod is possible if you know the right steps to take.

The iPod does not have an eBook-specific reader, nor does it have a text format good for reading eBooks. That’s unfortunate, because the style and capabilities of iPods make them ideal for such functions. Sure, you can use an iPod as a portable hard drive to read eBooks on any personal computer. But if you want to use the iPod itself as an eBook reader, it’s certainly possible. It involves copying the contents of an eBook into iPod Notes and scrolling through multiple notes to read the eBook.

But there are limitations. For example, each iPod can hold a maximum of 4,012 characters. And a iPod can hold no more than 1,000 notes. Assuming each Note is packed to capacity, that’s roughly 4 million characters. So any given iPod can hold about 2,400 pages of printed text, or enough for eight medium sized books.

With that said, here’s a step-by-step process on how to place and read an eBook on your iPod:

1. Get an eBook. Make sure it’s in “plain text” format.

Don’t spend money on eBooks unless you have to. There are plenty of free eBook libraries all over the Internet. For a list of eBooks and books, go to http://www.andybrain.com/archive/journey_to_the_center_of_an_eBook.htm.

2. Enable Notes access on your iPod by checking “Enable disk use” in iTunes.

This feature — which is turned off by default — lets you use your PC to browse to your iPod, allowing you to copy files directly to the device. Click for more instructions and detail on enabling Notes access on your iPod. (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1478?viewlocale=en_US)

3. Convert your eBook into a format supported by iPod Notes.

Use this iPod eBook creator (http://eBookhood.com/ipod-eBook-creator) service to upload your plain text eBook, and convert it into an iPod readable format.

Take the files contained within the resulting ZIP file and place them into a new subfolder within your iPod’s Notes folder. Make sure you’ve completed step number two, above. Then browse to your iPod using your PC. You should see a Notes folder. Placing all the Zip files within a newly-created subfolder isn’t required, but it makes navigation much easier and faster.

4. Read your eBook.

After disconnecting your iPod from your PC, open Extras -> Notes on your iPod. You should see the folder you created in the previous step. Click to view the folder and you should see the documents you moved there, all numbered like “mydocument001”, “mydocument002”, etc. Start with the first document. You’ll see backward and forward arrows at the top and bottom of the Notes. Selecting with the center button on your iPod allows you to go back and forth between Notes.

The actual iPod eBook reading process consists of scrolling slowly through the Note as you read it, then clicking on the “next Note page” arrow at the end of the document. Be aware that hitting the “Menu” button acts like a “previous page” function. So if you read, for example, ten Notes worth of linked text, you’ll have to hit the Menu button ten times in order to get back to the Extras -> Notes section. Depending on how much you’ve read, it may be easier and faster to reboot your iPod when you’re done.

There is a way to programmatically clear this stored Notes history, but the converter mentioned above doesn’t use it. The iPod eBook creator mentioned above will do the trick. If you want a more extensive management system, or want something installed locally, here are some options. Each program will allow you to keep track of many eBooks on your PC, giving you the option to “activate” just the ones you want for iPod reading. The “eBook Hood” link is an online eBook conversion service — there’s no need to download anything, except for your converted eBook file.

Mac or Windows OS :

eBook Hood (http://eBookhood.com/)

Using this process, we can read text and eBooks on any iPod with a display screen. The process, unfortunately, requires a bit more hassle than it should. Until Apple decides to remedy this with proper eBook support and features like font adjustment and auto-scrolling, we have to make do.

Andy Kaiser’s technology column was self-syndicated to multiple newspapers for four years and on the Internet at AndyBrain.com

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