Series 60 - the ultimate Multi Media machines? Well yes, but the built in MP3 players, FM Radios, Real Video players, Game Cards (on the N-Gage MMC's) and Internet connectivity pale in comparision to the ultimate media.
No I don't mean the town just to the west of London, I mean the joy of a good book. And while your phone might not have the musty smell of "Fly Fishing," it's got everything else you need. And when you compare a 500K novel to a 4mb mp3 - and consider how long they respectivly last - then you'll see that electronic books (eBooks) are the way forward. Filling a 64mb MMC card is going to give you maybe 2 hours of music with a high compression rate - or the equivalent of over 100 novels!
What are eBooks?
Simply put, they are very large text files that have been compressed to make them smaller on your device. Typically a 1mb text file will compress down to around 550K. As with most ideas, there are a variety of formats around. The most 'open' standard is the DOC format, which was invented for the Palm Pilot PDA. Originally those devices could only open a maximum of 4000 chaacters (which was great for notes, but not for anything you needed to have for reference). Now the DOC format is available in most applications. As logns as you have a DOC Reader on your device, the world of eBooks is ready for you to explore.
Symbian OS Devices have a wide choice of eBook readers, some with only a few features, some with massive feature sets, some shareware, and some freeware. Here's some links for you to begin your adventure.
Series 80 (92x0 Communicators): Simon Quinn's EBook Reader
Original a commercial application, Simon has now stopped the development on this app and effectivly made it freeware by placing a Registration Code on the front page of the website.
Series 60: Alex Zavorine's ReadM
Out of all the Series 60 eBook readers, Alex' wins, partly because its freeware, but also because of the wealth of options and configurations you can use to make your reading as comfortable as possible. Strangley, he's bundled an MP3 player in with the application as well, which does push the size up to 400K, alomst 5 times as large as comparable readers. Not a problem if you have an MMC card, but on the 7650, it is a bit of a squeeze to install.
UIQ: Epocware's Handy Book
Our Russian friends get in on the act (there's a Series 60 version of Handy Book as well). Suprisingly true DOC readers for the UIQ aren't as abundant as the other platforms, so Handy Book has a pretty clear run. There's still space for a really good UIQ Reader thought (authors take note).
Where to Find eBooks
So now we can read eBooks, we need to go and find some. The best place to start is Memoware. (http://www.memoware.com/). This site holds hundreds of thousands of texts, in a variety of formats. You're not going to find the latest blockbuster from John Grisham there, but thanks to copyright expiring 50 years after an author has died, there are hundreds of classics in here. You've got the whole John Carter on Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. H G Wells' The War Of The Worlds is in there. Horror isn't a problem either. H P Lovecraft should satisfy even the most ghoulish of you all.
Rolling Your Own
There are lots of tools out there that run on your device, or on your PC, or somewhere in between. These take in plain text files, and output DOC files. The first (and best) of them is MakeDocW and you can grab it from http://www.pierce.de/makedocw.html. All you need do here is point to the text file, give the eBook a name, and hit convert. Voila, in the same directory we have our .DOC file. Except it's strangely called .PRC. Don't worry about this. MakeDocW was initally geared for Palm OS users, and all Palm databases are PRC files. Just send this over IrDA or Bluettoth (with a right mouse click).
You might also like to try the original despository of free texts, Project Gutenberg (http://promo.net/pg/) has a large number of very old texts that you can convert with MakeDocW.
Finding texts not in these libraries will probably your biggest challenge. One option is if you have access to a scanner and a stanley knife is to slice your favourite paperback so you can scan it with your OCR software; Optical Character Scanning takes a scanned picture, reads the text and dumps it out, often into a text file. Handy that, especially as that's what MakeDocW needs!
Don't forget delights such as Fan Fiction. There are lots of sites out there with stories written by people interesed in particular characters and want to write more adventures for them. Harry Potter is probably the best example of this, and you should have a look at both The Paradigm of Uncertainty and Trouble in Paradise for some truly excellent reading material.
Free As A Bird
eBooks are liberating. Carrying around four or five massive books in a tiny MMC card is not only midn boggling, but a lot lighter than the equivalent printed material. You can happily send copies of the book over Bluetooth to your friends, and it's a sim,ple matter to change to another book when you finish the first. Why not give it a go?
Oh, and they never loose your place!