Review: MobiPocket Software

Review by Web Genii

I think of myself as a technical girl, so after listening to your comments about reading with a handheld device I thought I should try it out. I have to admit that the concept was not appealing. While I've been lovin' my HTC Smartphone with it's touch screen; I've found watching movies on it's 3x4 in screen to be less than appealing and reading PDF's an exercise in horizontal scrolling frustration.

I installed the MobiPocket Reader Software from MobiPocket on both my desktop computer and my phone. Both the download and installation were quick and straightforward. The MobiPocket Reader has versions to run on Windows, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm and some ePaper devices.

The MobiPocket Reader can only display files that are in MobiPocket format (although the documentation waffles around this), so if your find you enjoy using the reader you'll probably want to get the Creator Software package MobiPocket Creator that will allow you to convert PDF and HTML files into Mobi format. Conversions are pretty simple although I did notice some wacky characters intruding into the finished file.

The reading experience is much MUCH better than I expected. Firstly, the text wraps within the viewing window, so horizontal scrolling is not required. I was pleased to find that the text size is completely adjustable. One can also set bookmarks, in fact multiple bookmarks per book. Other interesting features include; dictionary lookups and the ability to add annotations, hyperlinks, drawings and highlights to the text.

With a touch screen, moving through the text is intuitive - tapping the right side advances through the book, tapping the left moves backwards or turn on automatic scrolling. Since my phone is pretty light and portable I can read just about anywhere. Keeping the screen lit continuously for reading purposes does suck the power down, and for the first time in a year of owning the phone I found myself with a flat battery. But I can adapt my charging schedule to accommodate this.

So, what's not to love about the eReader experience? From my point of view two things:

  1. Finding books in mobi format. Initially, experimenting with the mobi reader was no problem since I've signed up for Tor’s free eBook downloads. But once you are seriously interested in using your reader – you are going to have to hunt through a ton of on-line retailers and publishers to see if your favourite authors have eBooks available. Forget about Amazon or Chapters offering you a nice searchable database of books and authors. Some retailers will offer sample chapters to read to help you make your decision but others simply list the basic book and author information.

  2. Pricing. In my opinion most eBooks are a little over priced. I would equate it to renting a DVD versus purchasing a DVD. Personally, an eBook is a rental in my mind. Remember that old saw about data loss "There are two kinds of people in the world, those that have lost their data and those that will lose their data". I can't picture my electronic library having any kind of longevity. The price for a book that doesn’t have the security of a physical copy should reflect this. Retailers could address this in a couple of ways. They could create libraries for readers, a personalized database that shows what books I've purchased and then they could take on the responsibilities of data backup and storage. That would be a service worth paying for. Alternately, let my purchase of an eBook give me credit towards the purchase of a physical copy of the same book. That way, if I really love the book and know I’ll want to reread it, my eBook purchase is a down payment on the book.

Nonetheless, the whole eBook experience has turned out far better than I expected. And the next time I'm stuck somewhere without reading material – I'm downloading a book!

About WebGenii

WebGenii is a SF book nerd and all-round geek.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    PDFs are a show stopper for me as far as eBook purchases go. They're great for locking down a layout that looks great when printed, but horrible for on screen reading (even more so when transferring to a dedicated eBook device). Any non-reflowable format is pretty much a dead end.

    My eyes aren't great, and they get a lot of work outside of reading for pleasure, so being able to resize text as needed is almost enough for me to give up print books forever.

    I think of buying an eBook as buying a book, and that's why I only buy ones that come in multi-format packages (where one purchase get's you all the formats). I'm really hoping the ePub format puts an end to all that. The goal for ePub is that a single file readable on whatever reader/PDA/phone/software/etc. you have (either by it directly rendering ePUB or having it convert on the fly when loaded). Then I can have the same file on my dedicated reader (which stays at home mostly) and my iPod touch (which comes with me more often). Also I won't have to worry about my reader dying, or loosing all my books when I upgrade to a better reader.

    As far as data loss goes. eBooks are pretty small. It's easier to have them all backed up to media in my fire safe then it is to stuff second copies of all my printed books in there.

    (unrelated, but what happened to the feeds? They aren't full content any more, but only the first paragraph or so. Is that going to be fixed? The font on this site is WAY too small for my eyes)

  2. I use MobiPocket all the time. I read ebooks on my palm T5 and I love it. I actually can't remember when it was that I last read a book in hard copy form. Just the fact that I don't need a reading light is the great. I have a sony ereader that I don't use nearly as much. It's so much bigger than my palm pilot, and doesn't have a backlight feature. But I literally carry my palm with me everywhere, which means that I always have dozens of books in my pocket that I can read where ever I am.

  3. With regard to books in mobi format & longevity of device vs DRM-locked book - buy whatever format you like, rip to text/html/what have you and then convert to mobi. Voila - legal book you've paid for, plus ability to format &/or device shift. This is how they should do it in the first place. Dumb publishers. If you think this is somehow shady, suggest you go have a look at what Baen have to say.

  4. hello. I've been reading e-books for a few years now, and I love the mobipocket format best. (i know this is months later from when you wrote it) Fictionwise and My Book Store and More both have a list of books that you buy, that you can re-download if something happens to your copy. (You may have found this out already 🙂 )
    I've just now discovered the phones that you can read books off of, and can't wait till my current contract is up, so that I can get a smartphone 🙂

    Thanks for this info! 🙂