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Ten Must Have iPad Apps for Readers

I know a number of people received the iPad for gifts this year, either for Christmas or some other event. I’ve got a list of my favorite apps that I think no iPad should be without. Most of them are free.

1-3. Reading Apps (all Free)

reading apps

  • Nook App – download this ONLY if you are a BN reader otherwise for ePubs, use …
  • Bluefire App – this is the best ePub reader out there if only because it allows you to use library downloads but also because you can add ePubs via sideloading or via dropbox/email. The Nook App does not allow this. Overdrive is another good library reading app. If you have a Kobo, you will want the Kobo app which accepts unencrypted epubs. Read more about how to use the Bluefire App here.
  • Kindle App – This app reads mobi or prc books, but unecrypted only. Another unecrypted mobi app is eBookMobi.

4. Dropbox (Free)

Dropbox icon

I barely remember what I did before Dropbox or it was so terrible, I blocked it from my memory. Dropbox installs a small program on your computer and you designate a place on your computer for your dropbox folder. Whenever you put something in that dropbox folder on your computer, it automatically syncs with the remote Dropbox computer. Then you can access the dropbox files from any internet connection.

Why is this great for ebook readers? Because you will always have easy access to your ebooks. You can add your encrypted ePubs, your unencrypted ePubs, Mobipocket, PRC, PDFs into the dropbox folder and then access it from your iPhone or iPad so long as you have an internet connection. This way you don’t have to plugin your iPad and do a tedious sync to get one book on your iPad.

NOTE: You can also email yourself books and open them in various ebook applications including iBooks, Bluefire, Kindle and Stanza. I’ll have a tutorial on this next week.

5. Goodreader ($4.99)


Goodreader is my favorite PDF reading application. It does not read encrypted PDFs, you’ll need to use Bluefire for that. But for regular PDFs, this App has incredible features. You can annotate the PDF and then simply email yourself a summary of your notes. You can access your EMAIL attachments as well as your dropbox files and any number of remote file storing sites to access your ebooks. It has a file management system allowing you to organize your PDFs into folders. It’s definitely worth the $4.99.

6. Instapaper (Free)


I often see links to articles that I want to read, but don’t have time until later. I used to email myself the link or sometimes I would bookmark it. Now, I use instapaper. Using a Bookmarklet (a bookmark for your webbrowser that contains a small script), I save all these articles to read later. This is the tool I use to write up my midday links. I save a dozen articles a day and then read them all at night, writing up some notes about each article. The Instapaper app allows me to read all the articles in one place.

7. Evernote (Free)


It took me a while to figure Evernote out but now that I have, I simply love it. I know that I am not using it to the fullest extent. Right now, I use it to write notes to myself but you could use it save lists of books you want to buy. Evernote is a bit like Dropbox. It saves your work (automatically) and then syncs it so what you have on your computer is exactly the same as what is on your iPad.

8. Audible (Free)


Yep, there is an App for that. Actually, the Audible App is designed for the iPhone only but it is useable on the iPad. One of the things I look for in Apps is how much cloud access I can have. I want to be as untethered to the computer as possible. (I hate iTunes and syncing and all that crap). From within the Audible App, you can download your purchases without syncing to iTunes. You can’t purchase directly from within the app, instead, like the other apps, a purchasing link launches Safari.

9. Zinio (Free)


I’ve subscribed to a couple of magazines via Zinio and while not perfect, it’s a good way to access many of your favorite magazines. However, more and more magazines have their own apps although I have found the price of the individual apps to be very expensive. Zinio subscriptions are often under $10 for an entire year. There are geographical restrictions for some magazines. There aren’t a lot of backlist issues which is a disappointment. I think many magazines are trying to figure out how to make the jump to digital. Sound familiar?

10. Comics by comixology. (Free)


If you are into comics, this is the app for you. It contains the comics form Marvel, DC, Image and many more. The App is free but the individual comics cost money. Others like Comic Zeal ($7.99) if you have a large library of digital comics. You can load your comics via wifi or dropbox as well as via iTunes. You can organize your comics by series, making it easier to find your comics. Stanza reads comics as well and is free but doesn’t have the features of Comic Zeal.

Other Apps that I love include

  • Houzz (Free) – It’s house porn. I love this app. Seriously.
  • Twitter (Free) – I’ve tried many apps for Twitter, even paid ones, but I like the look and feel of this one. Another Twitter app I like is Osfoora ($3.99)
  • LogMeIn ($29.99) – I know. The price of this app is SO HIGH and there are cheaper ways of getting your iPad to do what LogMeIn does but not easier. I resisted for a long time, but ultimately broke down. LogMeIn allows you to control your computer or laptop from your iPad. Basically, whatever you can do on your computer (except watch movies) you can do on the iPad using this App in conjunction with software you download to your computer.
  • Angry Birds ($.99) – Because you can’t read all of the time.

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. Cindy
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 05:09:44

    Oooo. Dropbox is an automatic backup site? That I don’t have to manually transfer my books to after renaming and organizing through Calibre?

  2. Janet P.
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 05:56:56


    I changed the location of my Calibre library to exist inside the Dropbox folder, so whenever I add a book to Calibre it automatically gets backed up to the Dropbox cloud.

  3. Danielle D
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 07:13:52

    I just downloaded Dropbox. I can’t wait to try it. I have the Bluefire app but I had trouble sideloading ebooks on it. I love free!

    Another good app is Pages, when my friends bought it wasn’t $9.99 it was under $5.00.

  4. Jane
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:03:28

    @Cindy: I do what Janet P does. I have my Calibre folder inside the dropbox folder. You can make this change within Calibre.

    Step 1. Go to dropbox and make a new folder for Calibre.

    Step 2. Click on the Library button in the toolbar.

    Step 3. Select “Switch/create library…”

    Step 4. Click the radio button next to “Move current library to new location”

    Step 5. Click the little folder icon at the end of the input box that says “New Location”

    Step 6. Navigate to your newly created folder (the one you created in step 1).

    Step 7. Wait. Depending on the size of your calibre library this may take a while because Calibre is copying all the files and folders to a new location.


  5. Sunita
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:13:42

    I remember what I did before Dropbox. I carried around a bunch of flash drives and forgot which one had the relevant file on it. Or I copied the wrong file. Or I lost the drive.

  6. Mike Cane
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:22:21

    Grrrrrrr…. (Jane knows what I mean).

  7. Jane
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:23:08

    @Mike Cane: Let me translate. Mike wants an iPad, but he found some kittens before the iPad came out and adopted them and now the kittens take up all his iPad money.

  8. RachelT
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:25:05

    Hi Jane – Does Stanza still have a place in your armoury? or has it been superceded?

  9. Jane
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:29:06

    @RachelT: I use it, but it’s not my go to app anymore. I’ve kind of learned different ways to utilize dropbox that makes the catalog access of Stanza less important.

    I really disliked the look and feel of Stanza’s note taking abilities and sometimes, I felt Stanza didn’t interpret and display epubs as well as the other Apps.

    Ha, I feel like I am explaining why I broke up with a longtime boyfriend. I’m just not into him anymore. ;)

  10. Farrah Rochon
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 09:15:32

    Had only heard of about half of these. Loving Dropbox so, so much. Just saved the PDF handouts for several RWA 2011 workshops in Evernote so I can quickly pull them up at the conference. I’m sure there are other apps that would work, but I’m still trying to figure out how to efficiently use them all.

    Soooo, got a “Ten Must Haves for Authors” in the works?

  11. Sarah Frantz
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 09:26:41

    Rachel T. asked my question. I still read all my ePubs on Stanza. You use BlueFire for that now, Jane? I’ll have to check it out.

  12. Lisa Hendrix
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 09:27:51

    Thanks for a great list of apps and the bonus instruction for Calibre->DropBox.

    If you want another addictive time waster, try Tiny Wings by Andreas Illiger. At just .99, it’s my favorite iPad game.

  13. Shannon Stacey
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 09:42:44

    Just moved my Calibre library to Dropbox. That was painless!

    Speaking of Calibre, is there a way to “hide” the books you’ve read? I’ve added a “read” tag to them, but I can’t find a way to hide books with that tag.

  14. Christine
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 09:43:01

    I would give the Overdrive app it’s own number right up with Bluefire now that it has been updated. I used to use Bluefire exclusively to read library books and ePub books on my iPad but with the latest updates to the Overdrive app I can open and download library books right to my iPad-no computer and sideloading needed. This means not only saving the steps of downloading to the computer and syncing my iPad using the cord but now while I am anywhere with my iPad that has wifi I can get my library books as they become available with one click. I cannot recommend this highly enough. And for lovers of audio books it works the same way.

  15. Cindy
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 10:41:14

    Thanks…I’m going to see if I can do this. Then I have to figure out how to move my files in from my external as where (no longer included in my Calibre library). Tired of emailing and making folders on my backup place…takes too long to organize.

  16. Cindy
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 10:48:46

    Ack, it’s only 2gb for free…that’s not going to hold my entire library. *cries*

  17. Cindy
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 11:14:40

    I downloaded and installed dropbox but I’m disheartened to learn it’s only 2gb for free. That doesn’t even make a small dent in my Calibre library…even the top level for $20 a month doesn’t work…I have way too many books apparently. I guess I’ll stick with my external and my ways of backing up/storing my ebooks.

  18. Janet P.
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 11:16:29


    If you have a couple of friends and/or a couple of computers with different email addresses you can build up referral bonuses pretty quick. Also, students with .edu emails get double referral bonus space.

  19. LG
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 12:16:39

    @Jane: If you’re going to have something taking up your iPad money, kittens are one of the best ways. Some of these apps sound absolutely awesome, and I’d love an iPad, but I’m still happy I have my “free” kitten. :)

  20. Jane
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 18:14:13

    @Cindy – how big is the file space in Calibre? I pay $9.99 and have the Pro 50 for which I pay $9.99. My Calibre folder, which contains over 5,000 books, is only around 4 GB.

  21. Cindy
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 21:53:34

    I am currently over 13 gb with over 8,000 files. Yes, I’m a bookaholic and now we see why I’m switching from print, lol. Anyway, I have what feels like a ton to still sort and put in Calibre.

  22. Jane
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 21:55:19

    @Cindy: But the Pro 50 would accommodate your 13gb wouldn’t it? That gives you 50GB for $9.99 per month.

  23. Cara Ellison
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 23:50:53

    I *love* both Dropbox and Evernote. I didn’t think I’d get much use out of Evernote, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I use it for lists, recipes, photos, organizing projects, etc.

    Dropbox has saved my butt more than once. I have the pro subscription and love it.

  24. msaggie
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 05:09:58

    Thanks so much, Jane, for telling us about the Dropbox app. I downloaded it last night and love it already! My problem is that I have several e-books which I bought in Microsoft Reader format – I don’t think these can be read on my iPad? What can I do to convert these to pdf?

    Another somewhat connected question is – can I change the names of pdf files which are opened in iBooks? I clicked everywhere and it doesn’t seem to have a function for me to “rename” my files (maybe there is and I am not accessing it)

  25. Cindy
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 08:15:18

    My Calibre file on the external is over 13 gb (I have some large history, craft and cookbooks in there as well as fiction and biography, and over 8,000 folders…and I keep adding to it. LOL.

  26. Ten must-have iPad apps for readers, by Jane Litte | Ebooks on Crack
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 10:53:08

    […] Jane’s Dear Author […]

  27. Keith Carscadden
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 17:12:18

    @Shannon Stacey –

    Within Calibre, to select all books that don’t have the tag Read, put the following in the search box:

    not tags:read


  28. Shannon Stacey
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 19:52:40

    @Keith Carscadden:

    Thank you, Keith! Exactly what I was looking for and it worked like a charm!

  29. Michael
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 10:36:58

    While it doesn’t have all the features of LogMeIn, Splashtop is a nice alternative in some respects. The two major things I like about it: it streams video and music beautifully, and it’s much less expensive (normally $9.99, but currently on sale for $2.99).

  30. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity lacks comprehensible weather
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 07:57:00

    […] iPad apps for readers. […]

  31. Lee
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 08:12:41

    the comics app is fatal for me lol
    i also love the print n share and write pdf apps
    thanks for the list always too many to choose from!!!

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