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Archive for June 18th, 2009:


Baudelaire on Windows Mobile

posted June 18, 2009

Posted by Thomas Riggs in books technology

Not everyone has an IPhone. It’s not even the best-selling smartphone brand (worldwide market shares are Nokia, 41 percent; Blackberry, 20 percent; Apple, 11 percent). So when the news arrived that IPhone owners could download Kindle books from Amazon.com, many people were left out.

Fortunately, until Kindle apps appear for other smartphones, there are good alternatives. Among the best are Mobipocket, a French company bought by Amazon in 2005, and eReader, owned by Barnes & Noble. Both have apps available for most smartphones, including my own, the Samsung Omnia, run on Windows Mobile.

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I’ve been surprised by how pleasant and useful it is to read on a cell phone, despite the three-inch screen. Reading on my phone has been a slippery slope. It started with text messages, then e-mail, then the newspaper. When I signed up with Mobipocket, I decided I would start with a book of poems—short things to read when I was stuck somewhere and had nothing to do. With Mobipocket I was able to connect to the site and buy a book directly from my phone.

I love paper books, so in evaluating Mobipocket and eReader, the real test was whether I would use them. I didn’t have to wait long to find out. One evening at the grocery store, I found myself in the longest line of my life. I was stuck near the cosmetics and couldn’t even see the cashiers. As people grumbled around me, I decided this was the moment. I pulled out my phone. I opened up Les Fleurs du Mal. By the time I got a glimpse of the cash register, I had already read three curious, ecstatic poems by Baudelaire.