Converting books to ePub format for your iPhone, Android and Smartphones

Welcome to the world of smartphones. These devices are ubiquitous and have started to infiltrate even the older generation who often find technology to be rather daunting. The iPhone and Blackberry revolution has even this bunch converted to Facebooking and Twittering. However, the reason why I bought a smartphone is because the large screen allows me to read ebooks easily and on the go.

PDF is a great format for computers, but on the limited screen of a phone, they are hopeless and very hard to navigate, requiring lots of panning around and waiting for the phone to ‘redraw’ every time you pan the view. I started my quest to hunt for the best ebook readers for smartphones and this is the results.

If you are on the iPhone OS platform (ala iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone), things are extremely simple for you. Simply download the Stanza app, which includes a desktop client. From here on, everytime you turn on your iPhone and connect to your home network, launch Stanza on your phone and computer and they will connect to each other automagically. After that, just click and drop your favourite books from your desktop and it will automatically upload them to your iPhone. It’s  a really genius interface and makes transferring books a painless and near foolproof process.

Stanza is able to convert almost any text medium, including PDF, RTF, MS Office, ePub and a host of other formats.

If you are on Android, things are a bit tougher. Currently my favourite eBook reader app for Android is Aldiko, which performs pretty much the same functions as Stanza on the iPhone. However, Aldiko lacks a desktop client, so you can only get books either through the Aldiko store or by copying it into your phone memory. Aldiko only supports the ePub format, so if you have any other formats, you will need to find a converter for it.

For other smartphones such as Blackberry and Symbian, there are also plenty of ePub readers out there and it should be no problems getting one.

One reason why I prefer the ePub format is because this format will be the future de facto standard for electronic books. It is currently supported by most, if not all, major eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle, Hanlin and its clones, the Barnes & Noble Nook and so on. Converting your collection over to ePub now ensures future compatibility and less hassle.

Which brings the topic to ePub converters. Stanza does a wonderful job converting all sorts of format into ePub for its iPhone software and the ease of use makes it the top choice converter if you are on the iPhone platform. For Android and other platforms, your best bet is Calibre, an open source Ebook Manager which comes with a powerful converter. Fans say the conversion from Calibre is of higher quality than Stanza, and supports graphics.

Using Calibre is pretty simple, you just install it and start adding books into its database. There is a Convert button which you can click to convert from almost any format to ePub. Once conversion is done, you can choose to transfer it to your phone’s memory. On the iPhone, unless you have jailbroken it, copying is not so easily done as the computer does not detect the iPhone as a Mass Storage device, so you are better off using Stanza’s automated functions.

Enjoy carrying your library in your pocket! And not just your music library, but books as well.