The Forgotten E-Book Reader: OLPC
While it’s a bit heavier than most tablets (but still relatively light at just over 3 pounds), and lacks the “instant-on” feature of other devices (the OLPC is technically a netbook computer, so it needs time to boot), the built-in Read Activity (app) supports several types of file formats, including text, tiff, djvu, pdf, and epub.
At 6 inches x 4.5 inches, the OLPC’s color screen is bigger than most dedicated e-book readers, and almost as large as the iPad. The screen folds flat, which hides the keyboard and makes reading easier, and the screen also remains easy to read, even in sunlight.
So why isn’t it more popular as an e-book reader?
One problem is that it’s not clear how to add new content for the Read app to find.
In theory, you can drag-and-drop files from a mounted usb stick or external drive, but I found the graphical environment choppy and unreliable.
Here’s an example of how to copy a pdf file from a memory stick to the Journal:
copy-to-journal "/media/my-usb-stick/My Book.pdf" -m application/pdf -t "My Book"
The first parameter is the full path to the file (wrapping in quotes is good practice, since it will work for files with spaces in their names and without), the second parameter (-m) specifies the mimetype, and the third parameter (-t) defines the title of the book as it appears in the Journal (it can be completely different from the filename).
Epub files work the same way, except the mimetype is different:
copy-to-journal "/media/my-usb-stick/My Book.epub" -m application/epub+zip -t "My Book"
The script can also attempt to guess the mimetype, using the -g switch instead of -m:
copy-to-journal "/media/my-usb-stick/My Book.epub" -g -t "My Book"