Salvaging ebooks from Stanza for iPhone or iPod.

I’m a long-time user of Stanza on the iPhone, so I was surprised and a bit dismayed to discover that Stanza does not work with the new iOS 5.

As much as I love the program, it’s always possible to switch to a different program, but I had a different problem: many of my ebooks had been downloaded directly within the app itself, and I didn’t have copies anywhere else. Some of these, in turn, were no longer available for download. (A good example of this are books from sites such as the Baen Free Library.)

I took a look at iTunes sharing as a possibility for rescuing the books, but Stanza doesn’t share the books for downloading from the phone. I then spent some time figuring out what did work, and here’s what I found:

First off, you need an app that lets you look at the file directory on the iPhone. I used an OS X app called PhoneView, though I have no doubt there are others. (Incidentally or not, my iPhone is NOT jailbroken!)

  1. Within PhoneView, select “Stanza” in the “Apps” list.
  2. Go into the .Stanza folder. (If it’s not visible, go into Preferences and check the “Show Entire Disk” checkbox.)
  3. Within .Stanza, your books are in the “Library” folder. Copy this folder to the hard drive of your computer.
  4. I’ve noticed that the directories can be shown a bit differently depending on the program you’re using to view them. to be clear: within Stanza’s directory, you’re looking for this folder: /Documents/.Stanza/Library/
  5. Quit PhoneView.

Okay, now you have a folder on your computer that contains a whole bunch of numbered folders: “0”, “1”, “2” and so on. These contains your books, which unfortunately are still a bit inconvenient. Your books are the files that have no extension, e.g. “30”. All you really need is to add file extensions to the filenames, but first you have to figure out what extension to add (and the name of the book is helpful too!).

What I did was to open the files in a text editor. (On a Mac you can use the free TextWrangler; on Windows, you might try the free Notepad++.) You’ll see a whole lot of gobbledegook, but the file format can probably be determined by text found in the first line of the file. Generally, the name of the book is ther very first thing in the file, or close to it.

  • If you see “epub”, or (in the case of TextWrangler) it opens up as an “xml container”, you’re looking at an Epub file. Close the file and add “.epub” to the end.
  • If you see “PNRdPPrs”, that’s a Palm Doc file. Add “.pdb” to the filename.

Stanza reads a whole lot of file types, although these are the only two I’ve encountered. Also likely are .mobi files, and I’ll update this article as I come across other format hints. But suffice it to say that after adding the file extensions, the files will work in another e-reader capable of reading that format.

I also use a program called Calibre to organize my ebooks, and conveniently it can also convert between formats — so if you want to put an Epub or Palm book on your Kindle, say, Calibre can convert it for you.

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2 Responses to Salvaging ebooks from Stanza for iPhone or iPod.

  1. Harald says:

    Brillant help. Thanks a million!

  2. Stephen R says:

    A short follow up for anyone following comments on this post: Far and away, the best Stanza replacement app I’ve found for iPhone is called Marvin.

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