The iPhone as an eBook reader

One of the things I was originally disappointed in with the iPhone was its inability to use the vast 16GB of space I had as a mounted disk, as I could previously with my iPod nano. I was still able to browse the web for PDFs, which was pretty cool, and so I set up a PDF repo on this server to store my most referenced files. But there was a downside to this – when reading a large PDF file and then went back to it later, you had to flick through all those pages again just to get back to your place. Since one of the first PDFs I read was a few hundred pages and I had read close to 100 pages in one sitting, I was sorely disappointed when I had to get back to my place. That idea died on the vine.

But thanks to the iTunes app store, we know that someone with the ability to use xcode would save the day. There are two applications out now that readily fill this niche. Datacase ($6.99) and Files () are both $6.99 from Apple’s App Store and are being actively developed. They allow you to connect to your iPhone over an available wireless network, allow you to read a variety of file formats, and now allow you to bookmark your place in the document. My app of choice is DataCase. I have had a number of small problems with it, like inability to read CHM files and crashing/freezing due to large PDF files (32MB+).

I initially purchased Datacase shortly after the iPhone 2.0.1 firmware came out. Once the iPhone 2.0.2 firmware arrived, Datacase stopped working and my files disappeared. The solution was to uninstall and reinstall the app, but that meant losing all the data that Datacase was storing. Enter WinSCP.

I always keep WinSCP around for connecting via sftp to my various servers and home and work. Only recently did I find that it include a sync function. Since Datacase requires you to connect via FTP from Windows WinSCP was able to connect to the iPhone Datacase share directory in one pane, and my ebooks folder in the other pane, and then perform a sync between the two. Voila! I now had a nice backup to my stored data and a way to get it back in the future in case my iPhone is lost or gets crushed by a truck or meets another bad firmware.

While reading on the small display is not ideal, it is very convenient and allows me to read while waiting at appointments or any other spare moment. Finding the time to read is very important for technical people, and this fill that need very nicely as I always have my iPhone with me. I had looked at the Kindle for a while, and while I really love the idea, I just can’t get past the idea of carrying yet another device in this age on convergence. Now if only Apple would allow us to download files and save them into the local storage…