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Catalog Support for IOS5 for the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad

For those who are upgrading to iOS5 or getting the new iPhone 4S, you may have noticed that Stanza is dead.  The app crashes and is completely unuseable.  But do not worry, folks, because there are three fairly decent alternatives.

1.  eBook Search.  Free but ad supported. $.99 to remove ads.

eBook Search AppThis app is merely a catalog reader.  It has catalogs from Feedbooks, Project Gutenberg, Baen Books, Smashwords, Muneys, and the Internet Archive preloaded.  If Calibre is open and running on a computer on your wifi network and your Calibre Server is started, eBook Search will automatically scan and recognize the catalog.

You can also add catalogs that you generated via the Calibre OPDS program.  Please see this post about creating your own catalog and library of ebooks in the cloud. Don’t forget that you MUST select OPDS when you are generating catalogs.

Select OPDS as compatibility level

Once you have your personal catalogs installed, you can browse them and download.  Once they are downloaded, eBook Search gives you the option of opening the file.

In the Calibre OPDS program, go to “Advanced customization options” and type in whatever formats you would like to have supported in your catalog.  You must have a corresponding format for the book.  I like to keep both an ePub and a Mobi for each book in my catalog.

Calibre OPDS included formats option

If you have set your catalog to generate download links for various formats, Kindle should be one of the options.

eBook Search Download options

If you click on “EPUB”, it will give you the option to open in iBooks or you can also choose any other ePub app that allows sideloading such as Kobo, Bluefire, or iBooks.

Ebook Search ePub Open In

2.  MegaReader.  $1.99

MegaReader App IconMegaReader is simply eBook Search with an integrated eReader for ePubs built in. It’s fairly nice and has a lot of customization features.  You can change the following: font, font size, color scheme, text color, page color, margin width, line spacing, justification, page transition (slide, push, fade, cut), lock rotation, let sleep, restore on startup.  One of the background settings is “Heads Up” which actually uses the rear camera view as the background thus allowing you to kind of see through the words.  You can click for a better look.

MegaReader Heads Up

More screenshots here.  One thing I liked about MegaReader is that it shows dual columns in landscape mode on the iPad.

This app did not have any annotation features such as highlighting or note taking.  You could share passages on Facebook.  There was no way to make collections like you could in Stanza.

3.  ShuBook.  Free

ShuBook App IconThis is a Chinese App but it has English language as an option.  Like MegaReader, there are preinstalled catalogs, but pressing the “Custom” tab on the Download page allows you to add a catalog (as in eBook Search) or will scan for the Calibre OPDS server.  Tap “Edit” and then “+” sign.  You will get the options to “Find Catalog” which will search for the Calibre server or “Add Catalog” if you have the link to your Dropbox catalogs.

Shubook catalog

ShuBook has a lot of customization features as well.  You can also edit the metadata directly from the App such as changing the book title and the author name.  You can also change the following: Font name and size, text alignment, paragraph indent, paragraph spacing, line spacing, letter spacing, color, show page number, control over brightness by a vertical swipe, page turn effect (none, slide, curl).

This app did not have any annotation features such as highlighting or note taking.   There was no way to make collections like you could in Stanza.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Personal cloud of ebooks with free opensource programs like Calibre
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 20:25:12

    […] This next part is adding the catalog to your iPhone.  Check out Stanza alternatives. […]

  2. Sunita
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:11:50

    Thanks so much for this info, Jane. I am one of those Stanza users left in the lurch. Honestly, though, I’m amazed it lasted this long considering it’s been essentially abandoned for a while.

    I downloaded eBook Search and MegaReader yesterday and ShuBook this morning. If you just want to be able to download from your Calibre OPDS and read in another program like Bluefire, then eBook Search is all you need. If you want OPDS access + a reader with more options, then MegaReader is the way to go. It has a good range of colors, fonts, etc. to customize. I thought it was well worth the $1.99.

    ShuBook has almost as much customization as MegaReader but fewer font size options. And the wifi connection to Calibre is just like Stanza, so it makes a good replacement for people who don’t want to put their books in the cloud. I can get ShuBook to download over wifi, but the URL catalog isn’t downloading properly now. Probably something I’ve messed up.

    I don’t make collections, but both programs let you search by Series and Tags, so that works out well enough for me.

    The note-taking and highlighting absence is a pain, but maybe they’ll add it later if they get enough feedback (and enough customers).

  3. Sunday Morning eBook News - Dear Author
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:36:33

    […] With iOS5, Stanza has been killed.  This post explores three alternatives to Stanza. […]

  4. yellaflow
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 12:43:10

    Thanks for the heads-up; had no idea iOS 5 killed Stanza. It’s making me think twice on chucking my well-worn 3G for a new 4S, as Stanza is one of my most-used apps. I don’t relish the thought of changing my reading habits and going back to square one with another reading app.

  5. shuzluva
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 13:18:39

    If you knew the aggravation I went through to get all of this crap to work again, you’d probably laugh your ass off. Like Sunita I was SERIOUSLY attached to Stanza. Unlike Sunita, I had held off from entering the Cloud. ‘Cause I’m old. Unlike my children, who are technology natives, and things seem to appear seamless to my three year old, I am a technology immigrant. And it’s hell.

    Thank you for all of the step-by-step guides to get me out of the ninth circle of hell.

  6. orannia
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 14:54:43

    Thank you Jane! I upgraded to IO5 on Friday night, not realizing I was dooming Stanza. I then spent 30 minutes doing everything but standing on my head to get Stanza to work. I miss it :( Do any of the above options have the percentage indicator (telling you how much of the eBook you have read) please? I’m currently using Bluefire, but it doesn’t have that and it kind of makes my GoodReads updates pointless. And I miss being able to edit the book data, especially when the book appears with an incorrect title (or no title).

    *SIGH* I guess what I want is Stanza by any other name :)

  7. RachelT
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 15:34:15

    I have held off from upgrading to ios5 until I find a replacement for Stanza that I am happy with. I really like that app, although I don’t use it with the catalog, I download direct from Dropbox which holds my Calibre library.

    You may be interested to know that Patrick Thompson, the developer of Megareader and ebook search, has joined in a discussion of alternatives to Stanza. It sounds as though he is already writing upgrades to Megareader to reflect feedback from Stanza users eg to reduce the brightness with a downward flick of the screen. I have included the address of the discussion if you would like to add your two pennyworth. It sounds as though some easier changes could be forthcoming quite quickly.

    For those of you who are interested, there is lots of discussion about alternate readers on the MobileReads Forum under ereaders/Apple Devices.

    I know that you mentioned before that you changed from Stanza to Blue Fire some time ago. Can you tell us what the pluses of that app are please?

  8. Sunita
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 15:43:59

    @orannia: Both programs give you that information but you have to take an extra step. If, in each program, you tap on the progress info (button on bar in MegaReader, pagesread/pagestogo in ShuBook), additional info pops up and gives you the percentage.

    @shuzluva: I so feel your pain. I upgraded in the afternoon and then read a tweet about Stanza crashing an hour later. I was Not Happy.

  9. orannia
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 17:43:48

    @Rachel – thank you for the link!

    @Sunita – thank you! Such a little thing, but I miss it (and so many other things about Stanza :)

  10. Jane
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 19:09:29

    @RachelT I strayed away from using the stanza catalogs and collections. I didn’t like how Stanza handled annotations and notes and so I used Bluefire and sometimes iBooks simply because I liked the look and feel of the apps and the way in which I could add notes. Plus, I moved when bluefire could handle DRM’ed epubs so it wasn’t so much that the Bluefire app had so many more features but that Stanza was lacking in a few things.

  11. Tae
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 03:09:54

    oh no! I’ve been reading using my Kindle app recently, so I haven’t opened Stanza in over a week and I just updated my iPad yesterday. I really liked Stanza and don’t look forward to learning something new.

  12. Lada
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 10:38:47

    Gah! I had been using the Kobo app which started crashing and having all kinds of problems after one of the updates. So now I’ve been using Stanza and have found it very easy to use. Now I have to change again? Appreciate the heads-up, Jane. I’m still having trouble with the whole OPDS thing and can’t figure out how to create those catalogs from my Calibre library but I’m always trying!

  13. Jane
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 10:40:52

    @Lada: Maybe I need to host a tech chat on the weekend!

  14. Lada
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 12:16:26

    Yes please, Jane! I always appreciate all of the information you share. Don’t know what I’d do without my Dropbox/Calibre library (all thanks to you) but I’d love to expand on that.

  15. Alice Gibb
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 14:05:37

    Stanza on your Mac or PC will let you save a book from a non-Amazon format as a Kindle file so that you can move it to your Kindle manually. This won’t solve problems for folks who only have an iPhone/iPad, but it is a work around for those of us who also have Kindle device.

  16. Sunita
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 15:35:28

    I just discovered that MegaReader does indeed link to Calibre over wifi so ex-Stanza users don’t have to use Dropbox and OPDS if they don’t want to. So far I’m liking the program.

  17. Amy
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 18:05:07

    Hi Jane–what reader do you prefer for highlighting and note taking? I’m interested in an app where I can sync my highlights and notes between devices. The only one I know about that does that right now is kindle. Are there others that you’re aware of?

  18. Jane
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 19:49:03

    @Amy Kobo, nook and Sony all sync notes and highlights but ONLY for the content purchased through their stores. Amazon will be introducing syncing of highlights and notes for non Amazon purchased content in the upcoming months although it is not yet here for the Apps.

  19. Angela James
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 19:45:28

    My brother has asked me to find a replacement for Stanza, so he can access my Dropbox catalog. I’m trying ShuBook, but I can’t seem to get it to access Dropbox correctly. Maybe I’m entering something wrong? I can connect with Calibre over wifi but can’t get to the same Dropbox folder I was using with Stanza. Any thoughts? Did you get it to work, Jane? Maybe I’m somehow not entering the right link to Dropbox…

  20. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 19:48:43

    @Angela James: did you regenerate your catalogs as OPDS? Are you using the index.xml file?

  21. Angela James
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 19:55:34

    I didn’t. I had no idea I had to do that! So I have to regenerate the entire Dropbox folder as OPDS and then use the index.xml file?

  22. Angela James
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 19:56:13

  23. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 19:57:49

    @Angela James: Yes, basically re rerun Calibre OPDS but make sure you have “OPDS” selected in the compatibility dropdown. Once the catalog is generated, you’ll need to wait a few minutes for it to sync with dropbox but then you should be able to use it.

  24. Angela James
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 07:39:05

    Thanks, J. It worked perfectly. The app does allow for some nice customization of the reading experience.

  25. Jordi
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 02:20:27

    Thanks Jane, the perfect solution for stanza and calibre fans

  26. effie
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 08:41:33

    Stanza is back! An update for compatibility with iOS5 was just released.

    I’m a long time user of stanza and when I came across your blog article, I went digging for info on the ios issues and came across this announcement:

  27. I Received an Ebook Reader, now what? | Dear Author
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 19:01:08

    […] Kobo, Kindle, nook apps for the iThings. For reading ePubs, you can use the Kobo, Bluefire App, or MegaReader, and a few notes about iPad ebook […]

  28. Sean Marko
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 00:27:40

    Thanks for a nice write up! It’s a shame to see Stanza go, with no decent alternatives. I personally use Ibis reader – it’s a web app with an option to cache the books locally for offline access. No fancy features like highlighting, but it is VERY cross platform and had a clean UI.
    Thanks again for your article! Your idea of using dropbox with calibre2OPDS was fantastic.

  29. einstein
    May 13, 2012 @ 06:31:10

    Shubook is not free! It requires an in-app purchase of $1.99 to unlock required (add personal library) options. Not really appealing app if you ask me. Even free it’s not that good.

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