Thursday, October 16, 2008

E-book Update: Stanza!

Oh, Lordy... my crumbling resistance to the wiles of the iPhone have just crumbled away to nothing.

While I was researching the Kindle, I ran across something called Stanza.

What is it? It's basically an e-book reader application, available for free, for the iPhone and iPod Touch. According to the Lexcycle Stanza web site:

Featuring a clean, well-organized interface, Stanza is expressly designed for reading digital publications, including electronic books, newspapers, PDFs, and general web content. Stanza is built from the ground up to make reading on your Macintosh or Windows laptop or desktop an enjoyable and hassle-free experience. It gives special attention to details that are usually overlooked in other software readers such as hyphenation, text columnation, automatic text scrolling, and user-friendly page and chapter navigation. Lengthy content that can be tedious to read using a web browser or PDF viewer is easy and natural with Stanza.

Stanza features built-in support for HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word, and Rich Text Format reading, as well as all the major eBook standards: unprotected Amazon Kindle and Mobipocket, Microsoft LIT, Palm doc, and the International Digital Publishing Forum's new epub Open eBook standard. In addition to supporting a plethora of formats, Stanza features an open API that allows developers to implement support for their own document formats. Stanza is more than just a reader: it is a reading platform!

This is huge, huge news. As cool as the Kindle is (I love the "electronic paper" that makes it unique), it's still basically a dedicated device. Not so Stanza. It's an application, one that runs alongside the iPhone's other functions. With Stanza, I can (and will) listen to music while reading a book, and then hop onto a web site, all while sending and receiving text messages, for instance. And since I'm sure that I'll be carrying my iPhone with me everywhere, I'll also be carrying my books along with me at the same time, all in the shared device.


Even better, Stanza will export other files into Kindle's proprietary format. Again from the Lexcycle Stanza site:

Stanza is also the first program that has a built-in export feature especially for the Amazon Kindle. Your PDFs, Word documents, and other eBooks can all be exported to the Kindle's native format and copied over to the device using a USB cable. Get a paper-quality reading experience for all your electronic documents with this innovative new device! well as other formats...

Last, but not least, Stanza has an experimental new feature that allows you to export your books to MP3 audiobooks. Your entire audiobook can then be added to iTunes and synchronized with your iPod or other digital music player. This technology enables the blind and visually impaired to enjoy a wealth of electronic documents.

For me, the ability to to word searches and to drop multiple bookmarks in a single text is a really sweet option - I know from experience that I'd use this all the time. I also like that text can be scaled in size, the fonts can be changed, and even the background color and text color can be changed on the fly.

Yep... I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Have any Kindle or Stanza stories to share (good or bad)? Be sure to leave a Comment below!

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