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by Tim Drenk

E-books are becoming popular as more and more publishers make more books and magazines available. Being able to read a book during a free moment without carrying an additional item is very appealing to many people.

An e-book

First, an e-book, or an electronic book, broadly defined is any book, magazine, or written material viewable on some sort of computer. One of the reasons for such a broad definition is that there are many different formats and programs for reading e-books. Some formats are secure and encrypted, others are plain text documents. And, of course, some e-books you must buy and others are free.

How to read e-books

First, you will need is a reader program. For Palm OS, there are many reader programs for the basic DOC format. The DOC format is a generic text document format usable by most handhelds. For a free reader program, I would suggest checking out PalmReader from Palm Digital Media can view their own format as well as DOC formatted e-books. PalmReader is also included on CD with the Palm m500/505. AportisDoc and CSpotRun are two other free reader programs. There are also programs that can view and edit the DOC format such as WordSmith and QuickWord. The Gadgeteer has a good review of the many DOC readers.
For Pocket PCs, Microsoft Reader comes built-in which uses the LIT format. You can install PalmReader or AportisDoc to view the DOC format.

Finding ebooks

Second, you will need to get an e-book. There are numerous places you can find e-books on the web. Where you should look depends on what kind of handheld you plan to use and what kind of ebook you what. Whatever e-book you download, you will need a program that can read it. Most web sites indicate what format the e-book is available in before you download it.
Here is a list of some of the places to look for ebooks for handheld computers:

MemoWare  -  A good place to start looking for ebooks for Palms and Pocket PCs. All ebooks are free and most are available in several different formats.

Palm Digital Media
(Peanut Press)
 -  Formerly Peanut Press, Palm Digital Media publishes a wide variety of e-books that use PalmReader which is available for Palm OS and Pocket PC.

MobiPocket  -  MobiPocket publishes ebooks that use the MobiPocket Reader which is available for Palm OS, Windows CE, PocketPC, Psion, and Franklin eBookMan.

Project Gutenberg  -  Project Gutenberg publishes public domain e-books in plain text. You will find many classic books here.

Palm Press  -  Palm Press publishes free Christian ebooks in Microsoft LIT format as well as Palm DOC format.

University of Virginia  -  U of V publishes public domain e-books in the DOC and LIT format.

Fictionwise  -  At Fictionwise, you'll find fiction e-books in all the major genres that are in a variety of formats.
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