Why I don’t like the ereader.com beta software for Linux

I’ve been a fan of the ereader.com book reader software since way back when they were ‘Peanut Press Palm Reader’, which came bundled with my first true PDA, a monochrome Palm m125

It seemed like a revolutionary idea, that all kinds of great books, (well, a mediocre selection of great books and more good books,) could be bought for cheap and carried around in my pocket.

I’ve used ereader software on dozens of different devices now, and I do think that the platform has a lot to recommend it. The interfaces are usually good, especially with the intuitive ‘click to turn the page’ options, and it’s easy to copy your books from place to place, with the only digital-rights nonsense being a prompt to enter your name and your credit card number as an unlock code. The logic there, is that unlike arbitrary password, you’re unlikely to include the credit card number when sharing your book files on a peer to peer network, or to friends of friends on a CD.

I even managed to get ereader pro running on my Linux eeePC netbook, though they didn’t officially support Linux, through something that’s called ‘the wine compatibility layer’, which allows a lot of windows programs to run under Linux. In December, I upgraded the eeePC to the Maverick Meerkat Xubuntu version, and in the course of re-installing all my software, went over to the ereader.com site to download the windows installer.

And I got totally distracted when I saw that they had an entry labeled ‘Ereader beta for Linux Ubuntu’. Quickly downloaded this and installed it on the eeePC.

Unfortunately, this beta version is among the worse pieces of software that I’ve seen. Not the worst, because there’s some truly wretched stuff out there, but bad enough that I was really disappointed that it came from ereader.com

A few of the complaints that I have made about it:

  1. Clicking on the ‘online library’ button when I didn’t have an internet connection caused the program to open lots and lots of copies of the login window that couldn’t be closed, bogging down the entire machine.
  2. There is no way to navigate from page to page within a book except for a ‘previous page’ and ‘next page’ button, which I didn’t even realize were there for a long time because, on my tiny little eeePC display, they were below the bottom of the screen. There was no way to resize the window smaller, and apparently no other navigational tools – it didn’t respond to clicking on the text, nor to the up, down, left, right, page up, page down buttons.
  3. There were very few controls in the interface, no menu, no help, not even an ‘about’ page that I could find to tell me what beta version I was running. There was no way to pick a chapter from a table of contents, skip to a particular page number, look at the book’s cover info, or access an options dialog.
  4. Possibly worst of all, there seemed no way to actually open and read ebook files that I had already copied over to my netbook. The only obvious way of adding books to my ‘local library’ was from the ‘online library’ – downloading a new copy from the ereader.com site. For books that I’d bought elsewhere or converted to ereader format myself, I guess I’d be out of luck.

I’ve sent my ‘beta feedback’ to ereader and gotten no reply yet. Oh well. At least I’ve got the windows version of ereader Pro installed on the netbook again, under wine compatibility.

And it feels good to have gotten that complaining off my chest.

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