Friday, March 28, 2008

Announcing the iPhone eBook Repository

Installing eBooks onto the iPhone for reading was nearly impossible. You needed to download third party tools, use scp, rename files, the works. To help, I decided to package existing eBooks for viewing on the iPhone.

Since this is an AppTapp repository, the books can be installed onto the iPhone from any location that the device has a valid network connection, GPRS, EDGE or WiFi.

The current repository provides installation instructions for 117 SciFi novels from the Baen Free Library, with plans to add additional sources. I am currently working on Project Gutenberg.

To make use of the repository:

  1. Obtain an iPhone.
  2. Jailbreak the iPhone, I recommend ziphone for this task.
  3. Install Books, the iPhone ebook reader using the Installer application ( (1.37 only!))
  4. Add the repository to Installer:
    1. Start Installer
    2. Click "Sources"
    3. Click "Edit"
    4. Click "Add"
    5. Enter ""
    6. Click "OK"
    7. Click "Done"
    8. Click "Refresh"
  5. Select "Install" at the bottom of the screen. You will see "Baen Free Library" is now available as an application category!

Just to clarify a couple of things. I am not providing copies of the .zip archives, they are provided to the iPhone by Webscription and Baen. The content of the files themselves are unchanged, although I have had to rename the html files to better fit in with the reader (I changed the SKU in the filename to Chapter).

To make it easy to spread these repositories around, I have uploaded the scripts I used to generate the repository to google code (iphoneebookrepo). If you would like to help, either with code, by reporting faults (thanks Ross!), or just general comments, I would appreciate it!

Take that Kindle!


Anonymous said...

Firstly, thanks for sorting this out. I've been having no-end of trouble getting ebooks onto my Ipod Touch. Apple obviously won't be porting mobipocket any time soon. Secondly, Thankyouthankyouthankyou for making the Baen Free Library available! Without my Weber, Ringo and Flint fix I'd be useless!

Jason Pollock said...

Thank you very much for the kind words!

Personally, I hadn't read any of their work until I did this, but I have to admit, now I can't get enough. :)

Thanks again for the reply, it's given me the incentive to go off and finish the gutenberg work!

Jay Dedman said...

I also have had the worst time inslatting ebooks on my iPhone, so i look forward to making this work.

Your instructions on getting the Baen library as a source worked as advertised.

But then when I choose a book to install, it works a little and then gives me an error message.

any ideas?

Jason Pollock said...


Sorry to hear you're having a problem.

To track faults, I would prefer you to raise an issue over at the google code project. It's much better suited to discussion and debugging. :)

I will need to know:
iPhone firmware revision.
eBookReader version. (1.3.7-1? 1.4?)
The error message that you're seeing.
The title of the book you are trying to install.

To create an issue, go to:

and click "New Issue"

Jason Pollock said...

Sorry, here's a clickable URL for the google code issue list.

Jason Pollock said...

O.k. I've reproduced the problem.

I've created the issue at the Google Code project.

My initial guess is that Webscriptions has re-created the zip files, resulting in the checksums not matching up anymore, but I'll investigate.

Jason Pollock said...

All fixed. recreated the .zip files, resulting in the checksums/sizes changing. I guess I'll have to put the build job into cron!

Anonymous said...

Actually, you don't need a jailbroken phone.

I managed to build a process using only Safari, for offline reading. It requires a bit more work with the books themselves, but not having to do jailbreaking is a big plus.