Reading Ebooks on the Nokia 770 with FBreader

The Nokia 770 is the best ebook reader I have ever used. I use FBreader, a very versatile reader for Linux. My favorite feature is screen rotate. This lets me use the 770 sideways in my hand, and I can use my finger change pages with the up-down rocker.
In these pictures, the scratches on the screen are on a cheap screen protector. The real screen doesn’t scratch that easily, but I’m paranoid anyway. The screen is a bajillion times brighter, but the flash washed it out.
Nokia 770 with FBreader in rotated orientation

Nokia 770 with FBreader in rotated orientation, showing the rocker page control

I’ve read ebooks on a Palm IIIxe, a Palm IIIc, a Treo 600, a Treo 650, and a Nokia 770, and the 770 is the best ebook reader I have ever used. I would have bought it simply as an ebook reader. I’ve used the Nokia 770 to surf to Baen Free Library, grab an ebook off there, and read it, all without an extra computer.

The 770 is better in almost all ways than a paperback. I never lose my spot. I don’t need to turn off the light to go to bed, as the screen is backlit. I can fit more paperbacks than I could fit in a house on a single memory card. The 770 fits in a single hand, and I can change pages with the same hand. The screen is beautiful.
The only real downsides are the fact that the Nokia 770 uses electricity and costs more than a single paperback.

34 thoughts on “Reading Ebooks on the Nokia 770 with FBreader”

  1. Entirely agree: FBReader, rotated screen, good placement of page-flipping buttons, better than a paperback, would buy it again just as an ebook reader. One thing you didn’t mention, the high dpi of the screen means my eyes do not get tired from reading on this, over an hour easily.

    I primarily use it on the train, I’ll check my email or bloglines but quickly flip over to reading. Before I got it I’d bring paperbacks or get a paper, but there’s no way I could slide the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo (my current reading) in my pocket.

  2. You basically wrote the blog post I’ve been meaning to write – I use my Nokia 770 as a e-book reader using FBReader as well. It is the first device I’ve used that I feel comfortable reading with for long periods of time. I usually use it in landscape mode though as I prefer longer lines. I’ve been reading Baen stuff as well – I have the Honorverse CD and use FBReader to read the Palm format files on there.

  3. If you go to http://only.mawhrin.net/fbreader/maemo/ on your 770 through the web browser, you can click on the “binary package” link right there at the top of the page. The package installer will open automatically and if you click yes or install, FBReader will be accessible under Extras in the program menu.

    If you don’t have Wifi, you can download that package to a different computer, and transfer that file to your 770 through USB or something. Then, if you browse to that file in File Manager, double click it, and it should open up in package installer as well.

  4. Me too! I use 770 mainly for the ebook reading. FBReader is marvellous and it can also support Asian Language such as Chinese. You can freely customize the buttons on 770 to your own functions. I redefined the button midst of the arrows keys to “Go to next page”, so it’s so easy to do the page thing.

    The only thing I am not satisfied with 770 is the battery, it’s soon exhausted. But fortunately, I will soon get my external battery for 770. It will have about 6 more energy than 770’s battery.

  5. Regarding the Baen books, what is the best format to use with fbreader? I’m having problems with links not working in the HTML version.

  6. I think I used wget to grab the files off Baen Free Library. The 770 desperately needs a archive manager that’s Hildonized. I’d do it myself but I’m a bit iffy, and don’t really want to put much time into learning the current API when it’s going to change.

  7. I was going to sell my 770 and then my wife discovered it as the best ebook reader for her yet. This is after trying the various Zaurus’s I’ve owned.

    FBreader would be even greater if it had support for non-DRM’d mobibook files, like opie-reader does on the zaurus. That would make it very convenient for reading Baen books.

  8. Good advice – thanks folks.

    I’ll add, since the documentation doesn’t help, that if you want to read a file in the plucker format, e.g. from Project Gutenberg, you need to know what file name extention to give the file. I found that “.pdb” works, though it seems a poor (ambiguous) choice, and may not be the only one that does….

  9. Can someone please post a step-by-step tutorial on getting content into the reader. Got the reader downloaded and installed fine, but cannot figure out how to get a book into the library to read.

    First, the file (From Baen) arrives and a .zip. The 770 does not have an extraction utility. Second, the default library location in the reader is:

    ~/MyDocs/Books:/media/mmc1/Books

    How do I get files into this location. I cannot find it through the file manager app on the device.

    Thanks for your help. I’d like to join the ebook reading on 770 revolution!

  10. Scott, I haven`t tried it yet but it seems that you will need some terminal typing to get your books inside the default library location.
    First, you’ll need to install X-Term on your 770 (http://770.fs-security.com/xterm/)
    Then download some books to your Nokia 770
    Start X-Term and type in something like:
    mv source_directorybook target_directory
    where [source_directory] stands for the folder you stored your files at (it may be homeusersomething or be inside your mmc), and [target_directory] stands for the default library location (supposedly that one you pointed out: ~/MyDocs/Books:/media/mmc1/Books)

    By the way, I’ll say that i like FBreader’s file explorer VERY much, as it allows me to navigate my full dirtree, not just standard-user’s ones. It is fast and easy to use as well.

  11. Er… doesn’t ~/MyDocs/Books:/media/mmc1/Books means TWO directories? I think it means FBReader will look first into ~/MyDocs/Books and then /media/mmc1/Books. So you’d rather move the ebook to either one of these two, not the “resulting” directory of both concatenated with a “:”.

  12. Scott and Aswarp, please, no need to get that technical (unless you really like to…).

    I was just reading your comments on my 770 after having for the first time downloaded an eBook and opened it in FBReader, and that for the first time ever, too. You don’t need any extraction for the .zip, FBReader can access the book within the archive! I had to swich to my laptop for this comment, though. I don’t yet have a keyboard for the 770 and the manual input is too slow for any longer text.

    So here’s how (if you don’t want to change the default library location in FBReader and assuming you have entered the memory card that came with the 770 into its slot and closed the cover):
    1. Go to the File Manager on the 770.
    2. Point to the “Memory Card” folder.
    3. Select “File | New Folder…” from the drop down menu or “New Folder…” from the popup menu (which you get by holding the stylus on the “Memory Card” folder for a couple of seconds).
    4. Input the name for the new subfolder, “Books”, and tap “OK”.
    5. Put the .zip file(s) into the Books subfolder (copying or moving them with the File Manager or by downloading them and changing the default download folder into “Memory Card | Books”).
    6. Use the FBReader “Add File to Library” function to access the directory “/media/mmc1/Books” and point to the appropriate zip file, then point to the actual document file within the zip, enter book information, and voilà, you have the new book in your library (you may want to keep tabs about the contents of the obscurely named zip files while downloading them, so that you can enter the name of the book and the author correctly, but you can do this later with the Book Info function, too).

    FBReader will retain the library information within its own file(s) and there’s no need to extract the .zip files. Saves card space, too. Personally, I prefer the Palm eReader format for the actual document files so that I can choose whether to read them on Palm, PC or 770 (Palm I’ve been using for years now and I’ve very much liked it for reading ebooks, too).

  13. Just a little photography advice: if the flash is degrading your picture, don’t use flash! You should be able to get a better picture without it, especially when you’re taking it so close up, the flash tends to be worse for closer shots because it is more concentrated.

    I say this because I don’t have a 770, I’m still making up my mind about it, and therefore I’m eager for any good photos of the thing. If Nokia were to fix the lack of storage and CPU performance, I’d pick one up right away, even if it costs more than the original (within reason).

  14. In regards to post 10– the only type of book that will be registered in an alternate location (other than ~/MyDocs/Books) seems to be FBreader format books.

    I’ve put all my books in and alternate location. /media/mmc1/Books and it never reads them automatically- I have to manually load them each time.

    It __will___ however read in and remember any books that are in FBreader format! I assume that this is a bug.

  15. Question: Why does your 770 say “NOI” – did you scratch the rest off?

    As for screen protectors- I love and hate them. My current thinking is that I jstu won’t use them, to get maximum readability.

    Also consider- by the time the screen is _really_ scratched, there will be a new device out that you will want, and that’s a great excuse to upgrade.

    So remove that protector- it’s not worth it!

  16. Scott Laughlin, There are two default book directories:
    ~/MyDocs/Books AND /media/mmc1/Books

    I suggest using the latter:
    – open file manager
    – create new folder named “Books” under your rs-mmc -disk
    – download books in to that directory

  17. FBReader has a built-in ZIP decompressor. Start FBReader, press the toolbar button with the little + sign next to a book, and you’ll get a file browser. It displays the real filesystem, so the MMC card is at /media/mmc1, and your Documents folder is at /home/user/MyDocs/.documents. You can enter inside .zip files as if they were directories.

    FBReader supports many formats; I mainly use HTML. Unfortunatelly FBReader doesn’t support books split into multiple HTML files. You either have to read each of those as a separate “book”, or muck around combining them into a single large .HTML file. I’ve written a Python script that does that, among other things.

    Hmm, where’s the preview button on this blog? Oh well.

  18. I read two or three novels a week on my 770, and I don’t find a single negative thing about the screen protector, until I’m taking pictures of it. I use screen protectors on nearly all my electronics, including both Treos I’ve owned and my 770, all the way down to my Palm IIIxe.

    The lettering has rubbed/scratched off on its own. I use the included cover, but I think I’m a fairly “high-use” 770 owner. The plastic doesn’t seem to be scratched, the letters just come off.

    Thanks, everyone, who posted that the 770 can read inside zips.

  19. Hi There,

    I am considering buying a nokia 770 as an eboook reader but especiallly to read PDF documents downloaded on the internet.
    Does some of you already used it for that purpose and could your give me your feedback about it ? is it comfortable ? quick ? etc.

    Thanks

  20. Can anyone tell me how user friendly this device is with pdf files. I have a few text books in pdf format that I reference daily. I have tried using a Palm TX with a 480×320 screen and it is too low of a resolution and small display size to show the full width of a page legibly. Is the resolution and screen size of this device able to display a pdf page, letter size, legibly without having to zoom in and scroll the page?

  21. Can someone tell me how to get the FBReader installed. When i click on the installation file, it keeps telling me it’s a built-in component yet i can’t find the application on the 770.

  22. To anyone who cares! Finally got the FB reader installed but unable to set the default path for the reader to find downloaded books. The main problem is that I cannot find where the memory card is listed, it must be here somewhere!!!!!!! Please help

    1. The memory card is located at /media/mmc1. The directory “Books” on your memory card is already a default path, so you can make a folder called Books in your memory card and add books in there, and it will pick them up.

  23. Ah, this is my problem , nowhere can I find a file called “Media or mmc1. Although I downloaded the update from Maemo , nothing realy changed. I can read the contents of my memory card on my pc, but it doesn’t show anywhere in the software of the Nokia. I’m going crazy,just want to read a book in bed!

  24. Well finally managed it. If someone had pointed out that the memory card was called “Kingston” I could have fixed it in two minutes. I was looking specifically for “memory card” and it wasn’t there. Anyway reader is up and running and I am a happy bunny

  25. Thanks for all the good info. Update, FBReader also reads Mobipocket books. I used the “Add to Library” function and simply navigated to the memory card, and it worked fine. Set up all my parameters for type size, line spacing, and so on, and I am a happy reader! :o)

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