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IOS5, Stanza, and Rescuing Your eBooks

A little off topic - but if upgrades haven't got you yet on your mobile devices, they will.

Stanza was the best eBook reader on iPhones, iPod Touches, an iPads.

Until Apple released IOS5, which broke it.

Which would not matter too much, except that the company which produced Stanza, Lexcycle, was acquired by Amazon – maker of that well-known competing eBook reader, the Kindle. So Stanza development has stopped, and the likelihood of the app being fixed for IOS5 appears to be zero.

Unfortunately some of us had a lot of books we liked stored inside that Stanza application.

How do we get them back and into somewhere we can read them, such as iBooks?

(If you don’t have eBooks tied up inside Stanza, skip the next bit…)

This Wired article pointed me at the right tool (Stanza Book Restore Tool ) to extract the books from unencrypted Apple iTunes backups.

However, it didn’t work (java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Cannot find backup folder) on my venerable copy of Windows XP.

This posting identified the nature of the problem – a bug in the Java code or the Java environment.

An 80Mbyte download from Oracle of the Java Development kit later, and I had a patched version. (If you need it, you can download my patched version here.)

Assuming you have java installed, the command line you need to run it is:

java -jar stanzabookrestore.jar

Make sure you specify an existing folder for the Book Output Folder. Don’t use the default unless you want a desktop full of eBooks.

Once you have extracted the books, you can select the books in Windows Explorer and drag them into the Books section on iTunes. Sync with your iDevice, and you are back almost where you started before IOS5   – except that the interface on iBooks appears to be designed for people who don’t own more than a dozen books.

That was Scary!

I hope the above directions are useful for other Stanza fans.

The risk lessons here appear to be:

  • Don’t just assume your software application is not obsolete and is still being maintained. Even it if is still available for download and the company’s website exists, it may be obsolete. Nobody is going to write and tell you when it becomes obsolete!
  • Beware of firmware and operating system upgrades – you never know what is going to break, and something always does.

Michael Z. Bell
October, 2011

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