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Old 04-20-2008, 06:12 PM   #1
carandol
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Laptop as e-reader for partially sighted

My dad is in his eighties, and his sight has deteriorated to the point where he can only read really big text. He's never used a computer, and his hands are a bit shaky, so using a mouse is out. He can't afford a modern e-book reader, and I'm not sure how he'd do with the little buttons anyway. But my plan is this:

I've got an old laptop, which runs Linux just fine. What I'd like to do is set it up purely as an e-book reader. The ideas would be that it would boot with the file manager maximised and no toolbars showing, with a list of book files in big print. (This would be in KDE). He could use the cursor keys to navigate to the file he wants to read, then just press enter. I'd probably paint the keys he needs to use in bright colours so he could see them easier. Once in the book, he could navigate up and down with the Page Up and Page Down keys.

The thing I'm not sure about is software. I want something(s) that can read plain text, HTML, mobipocket and possibly PDF. The important thing would be that it would remember the last place he'd got to in the book, and not start at the beginning again the next time he loaded the file.

Anyone any ideas for any Linux program or programs that could do that?
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:06 AM   #2
HarryT
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"FBReader" springs to mind as a possibility. Handles all those formats except, I think, PDF.
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:48 AM   #3
carandol
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"FBReader" springs to mind as a possibility. Handles all those formats except, I think, PDF.
Thanks, that looks promising!
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:57 PM   #4
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FBReader should work, and it may be best to start up in FBReader and use its library mode for book selection. Just about every "action" can be bound to a key press, so there should be no need for a mouse.
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Old 04-25-2008, 03:17 AM   #5
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You definitely want to checkout a freeware program "ybook" which reads txt and html, rtf and several other formats . Adobe has an option to save pdf to txt and there are other conversion text prpograms out there like ABC Lite which converts Lit to half a dozen other formats.
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Old 04-25-2008, 10:36 AM   #6
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You definitely want to checkout a freeware program "ybook" which reads txt and html, rtf and several other formats .
Note also that the ybook site also has yread which is a similar program with a TTS capability to actually read your book aloud. Useful to follow along with the text if your eyes get tired.

http://www.spacejock.com/yBook.html

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Old 04-25-2008, 02:38 PM   #7
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Sadly, these are Windows programs, and as I said, I'm running Linux. I did try Ybook using Wine, and it worked right up to the point when I loaded a book, at which point it froze... Better stick with the Linux software, I think!
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Old 04-25-2008, 02:42 PM   #8
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Best to run Windows. Then you can run FBReader, MS Reader, Mobipocket Reader, eReader and most any other reader you want to use.
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Old 04-25-2008, 03:39 PM   #9
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Best to run Windows.
Sure, just change the OS you are running so you can read eBooks.

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Then you can run FBReader, MS Reader, Mobipocket Reader, eReader and most any other reader you want to use.
FBReader will run on Linux and BSD (so should run on Mac). eReader has a Mac version, no linux listed though.

BOb
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Old 04-25-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
carandol
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Best to run Windows. Then you can run FBReader, MS Reader, Mobipocket Reader, eReader and most any other reader you want to use.
You paying for this copy of Windows? Or are you going to provide me with a pirate copy?

I'm quite happy with Linux, thank you, which has not only been my only OS for the last four years, but is what runs on my iLiad too.

Let's not let this thread degenerate into OS wars, though!
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Old 04-26-2008, 01:46 AM   #11
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Pirated is such a "NASTY" word

Why not get Azeureus and " borrow" a copy from the torrent library?
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Old 04-26-2008, 06:44 AM   #12
carandol
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Why not get Azeureus and " borrow" a copy from the torrent library?
Well, believe it or not, I don't actually *want* Windows! :-) I've had a go with FBReader now, and it will read most of the ebooks I was planning to put on the machine, and Adobe Reader will read the rest. (I can download things from Feedbooks in a big print customised format). And Linux is *much* more easily re-configurable than Windows when it comes to creating a stripped down interface that will boot quickly and just show the programs needed.

Besides, I'd rather use software that people are happily sharing, rather than stealing it from grasping billionaires!
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:44 AM   #13
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But the thing with Windows... Your dad can use such websites such as BooksOnBoard or Feedbooks to purchase eBooks and be able to read them till you can get to stripping out the DRM. Linux will make him stuck with DRM laden PDF for any sort of recent eBooks. Do you really want to do that to him? Saddle him with PDF? I hope the answer is no. Anyway, Windows does give more choices as it has the greatest number of eBook reading programs available for it.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:40 AM   #14
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But the thing with Windows... Your dad can use such websites such as BooksOnBoard or Feedbooks to purchase eBooks and be able to read them till you can get to stripping out the DRM. Linux will make him stuck with DRM laden PDF for any sort of recent eBooks. Do you really want to do that to him? Saddle him with PDF? I hope the answer is no. Anyway, Windows does give more choices as it has the greatest number of eBook reading programs available for it.
Yes, but, as I said in my original post, my dad has never used a computer in his life, is 83, partially sighted, and does not want to learn how to use one now. He has no internet connection and no intention of getting one. The idea is to provide him with an inbuilt library on the laptop which should last him for several years, and I can add stuff manually when I visit. I've got lots of books in PDF formatted for the iLiad, which when displayed at full screen width on a laptop is just the right size for him to read, as well as lots of non-PDF in various formats, which can be read with FBReader. Its not about giving him the most choices, its about giving him books he can see without him having to worry about formats and downloads. I want him to be able to see a list of titles, select the one he wants and start reading, without needing to understand how a computer works first. He can get large print books from the local blind charity, but they don't include much in the way of science fiction and fantasy, which is what he really likes -- my ebook collection does.
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