This past week saw the release of the BN App for the iPad, an upgraded Stanza which is compatible with the iPad and a major upgrade to Calibre.
BN App for iPad
The BN App for the iPad is a nice reading app that allows you to customize the font, font size, line spacing, margins, and coloring of the text and background. Other features include in app annotations, word search, and an integrated dictionary. It has a night scheme which is essentially black background and white text. Strangely, though, it does not have an in app brightness control which Kindle, Kobo, Stanza and iBooks all have. I find the absence of this feature a strong negative for night readers.
Bookmarking is not at the top right, but rather at the bottom right hand corner. It’s an odd placement and I almost missed it. Page numbers are consistently the same no matter how large or small the font size which I think is very nice.
Unfortunately, the syncing of last place read only works between the iPad and the computer Apps but not the nook.
Buying a book isn’t as easy as either the iBookstore or Amazon with the one click buy (BN would have to license that feature like Apple does in order to implement a simpler system). Buying books is done through the Safari browser and it’s not at all intuitive that once you are done with the purchase you return to the App. At the end of each Kindle purchase on Safari, you are asked if you want to return to the Kindle App and one click closes Safari and opens the Kindle app. BN should implement something like that.
Other drawbacks for BN is the lack of content – Amazon currently carries far more content and generally the prices are cheaper. Plus, Amazon allows pre orders of Kindle books and it doesn’t appear BN allows the pre order of nook books.
If you are a nook user, the BN app is a no brainer but if you are still wavering on which device to buy, you might stick with either iBooks or Kindle.
Stanza for iPad
Stanza for iPad was a surprising release. I had heard one unconfirmed rumor that it might be updated but most of the pre release noise was that Amazon was abandoning the Stanza platform. Stanza for iPad is essentially the same as Stanza for iPhone. With Stanza for iPad, you can access your Fictionwise books, eReader books and any BN nook books that download as PDBs. Unlock those books with your name and credit card used to purchase the books.
Stanza for iPad also has a PDF engine so you don’t need GoodReader or other similar programs to read, bookmark and organize your PDFs.
There are bugs in the current release. Every time I save an annotation, the book closes. It is reported that the comic book reading engine isn’t working either. Despite those bugs, I am giddy with the iPad release of my favorite reading app.
Calibre is out with a major release, 0.7. First off, it is much faster in opening the program and completing tasks. One of the best new features is custom columns. As Kovid suggests in his demo video (which I highly recommend watching), you can create a Read/Unread column or anything else that would help you organize and sort your book collection.
It should be noted that you can use Calibre to organize your library even if you don’t have digital books. Simply click on the add books feature, select “empty book” and type in the name of the book. You can use the “Fetch Metadata” command to get the author, ISBN, publisher, and publication date along with the book summary. Add columns like “date purchased”, “date read”, “reader notes”, and other categories and you have a great inventory system for your paper books. You can even create a catalog to take with you when you are shopping in the store.