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    Reading eBooks on the not-so-smart cellphone (a Samsung m510 example)

    By Rob Preece, Publisher, BooksForABuck.Com

    I joined the cellphone revolution late. For years I shook my head when I saw teens walking by, chatting away on their cellphones, couples on dates--each speaking to someone else, and shoppers desperately getting last minute lists from someone at home. Finally, though, I broke down and joined the 20th century, picking up a Samsung m510 (and Sprint service).

    I was tempted by the high-end smartphones. Mobipocket ( runs its eBook software on Palm, Blackberry, Windows, and SymbianOS phones. Of course the Apple iPhone has built-in browser capabilities that allow it to read HTML-formated eBooks. Simple economics decided me on a cheaper route. I went with the Samsung m510 because it is affordable, has a nice camera, and it's very small and lightweight.

    Like most cellphones, the m510 does support data services. If I'd been willing to pay the extra fee for data services, I could have access to a web browser and read my (HTML) eBooks in that way. But once again, economics suggested that I avoid this added investment. What I have, then, is a relatively basic phone, with no added services. Which brings up the fundamental question--how the heck can I read eBooks on that?

    One alternative is not to read eBooks on it at all but to continue using my current devices (a Palm IIIxi and an eBookWise). The drawback with this approach is that I don't really want to carry multiple devices with me all the time. While I prefer the eBookWise when I'm going to be sitting for a while (airplane rides jump to mind), a lot of the time, a few minutes of reading time come unexpectedly. Ideally, I'd like to be able to read on a device I have with me all the time--hence my phone.

    The m510 does not seem to have any means of reading text files. Nor have I been able to discover any way to access the web browser without participating in the data services (and paying more money). I was forced to look for alternative approaches. Finally, I realized that the photo browser offered a possibility. Importantly, the photo capability meant that the phone can communicate with the PC for purposes of exchanging data. The m510 uses a small memory card that plugs directly into my HP PC (with an older PC, you might have to buy a 'card reader.'

    I'm going to make this next part of this paper a step-by-step of what I did to put eBooks on my phone.

    1. Download the RasterBook program from A. I. Studio ( The RasterBook application is FREE.
    2. Install RasterBook on your PC. RasterBook installs in a folder along with several BAT files.
    3. Open one of the BAT files and save it with a new name--for example, m510.bat
    4. Edit the BAT file to comport with the dimensions of your device. Here is the BAT file I used for the m510 (note, the dimensions I used for this BAT are smaller than the actual screen dimensions as the m510's built-in icons get in the way of a full-screen approach.

      start RasterBook.exe --width 176 --height 180 --rotate 0 --format jpg

      Please note that RasterBook supports both JPG and PNG graphic files. I picked JPG because that seems to be the native format of most cameras.

    5. Save the new BAT file
    6. From the My Computer/Program Files/RasterBook folder, double-click your new BAT file (m510.bat).
    7. RasterBook opens with the screen set to the dimensions of your device
    8. Drag and drop an HTML-formated eBook to the RasterBook window.
    9. Click Render Book
    10. RasterBook automatically creates a set of JPG files, one per page (not the original page but new pages the size of your cellphone screen. There will probably be hundreds or even thousands of these JPG files.
    11. If you drag and drop, as recommended here, the JPG files will appear in the RasterBook Folder on your PC
    12. Insert your cellphone memory card into the appropriate PC slot.
    13. Create a folder on the memory card with a name like eBooks (or the title of your eBook)
    14. Drag and drop the JPG files from your PC into the eBook folder on your memory card.

      Note: the following steps may vary depending on your phone. If you don't have a Samsung m510, you will probably have similar steps.

    15. Remove the memory card from your PC and insert it into your phone. (You may want to power down your phone before inserting and removing the card)
    16. Turn on your phone and select the "Pictures" option
    17. From Pictures, select "My Albums"
    18. From My Albums, select "Memory Card," then the eBook folder
    19. The phone displays thumbnails of the JPG page images. Select 'Expand.'
    20. My phone selects the last image (the pages are numbered from one to whatever). You'll want to page backward once from this last page. That should take you to page one. By continuing backward, you can read your entire book

    I've found it quite possible to read eBooks on this screen--as long as it is not in direct sunlight. If I'm going to be reading outside, I guess I'll stick with my Palm IIIxi. I haven't discovered any way of creating bookmarks within the eBook. For this reason, you may decide to create multiple subfolders of twenty or so pages each. That would eliminate the need to page through hundreds of images to find wherever you left off.

    There are a lot of steps listed above. A couple of things to keep in mind: (a) you only have to download RasterBook and set up your BAT files once. (b) The actual book creation process takes a few minutes, but it certainly isn't painful. (c) Dragging and dropping the image files is easy.

    Some problems. When I first attempted to create an eBook with the RasterBook program, I ended up with all of my pages being blacked out. I solved this problem by eliminating the graphic images from the HTML-formatted eBook. (You can edit HTML using WordPad). The Samsung m510 viewing screen is quite small, but usable. The first line is obscured by icons, but the first line is a repeat of the last line of the previous page, so there is no problem here. Unfortunately, RasterBook's help file is non-existant. You may have to experiment a bit the first time you use it. Editing one of the existing BAT files is definitely the easiest way to go. The command line approach looks to me to be more challenging (I couldn't get it to work, anyway). provides all of our eBooks in HTML format. If you have any problems converting our HTML eNovels using the RasterBook application, please let me know. Please note that the RasterBook application does not allow us to create the JPG files for you--you'll have to do this yourself.

    I'm always happy when I discover a new means of reading eBooks. I still have iPhone envy, but I'm enjoying reading eBooks on my Samsung m510 phone.

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