One book, nine e-reader apps – Part 1
Though I usually read books on my iPad through Apple’s iBooks app, I have been using several different e-reader apps recently, and I thought it would be instructive to compare them. Each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of them are good, some of them so bad as to be useless.
The main reason that I have been trying different e-reader apps is that all of the apps seem to share a common weakness – if you adjust the settings for font, font-size, background and foreground colors, and so on, those settings apply to every book in your library. Yet different books often demand individual settings. For example, I was trying to use iBooks to both read a mystery novel as well as to read a textbook on iOS programming. The novel required a nice, readable, serif font, at a comfortable size. The textbook needed a larger font applied, and looked best in a sans-serif font. But iBooks doesn’t let me store these settings on a per-book basis, so each time I switched books I had to go through the process of changing the settings.
I might say, too, that even just restricting my reading to novels, I find that different e-books can have wildly differing ‘native’ font sizes, there seems to be no standard. So even switching between novels, I am often forced to change font size each time.
So I started trying out other apps so that I could read the novel in one, and the text-book in the other. I came to quite a few conclusions, and I thought that it would be useful to write up what I had found. I will publish my results here progressively.
In each case I will compare:
- Reading comfort
- Controls and settings
- Table of Contents
- Any extra features, such as a dictionary lookup, etc.
In order to compare apples with apples, I will be showing screen shots of a single book in each app. This happens to be my own collection of short SF stories, Islands. One of the reasons I chose this (apart from a little self-promotion!) is that this was the only way I could be sure of being able to compare the exact same book in the various different apps, without having to spend a lot of money buying different versions of each book.
Here are the apps I tried out. Note that only seven are iPad apps, the other two are desktop apps on my PC. Note that I wasn’t able to try out Barnes & Noble’s Nook app for the iPad, as it isn’t available in the Australian iTunes store.
- iBooks (iPad – ePub format)
- iBooks (iPad – PDF format)
- Kindle (iPad – Kindle format)
- Kobo (iPad – ePub format)
- Bluefire Reader (iPad – ePub format)
- Stanza (iPad – ePub format)
- Goodreader (iPad – PDF format)
- Calibre (Desktop – ePub format)
- Adobe Digital Editions (Desktop – ePub format)
And here is my Summary and Conclusions post.