Marvin for iPhone

Marvin for iPhone

The developer contacted me to let me know that Marvin was now available for the iPhone. Marvin is a beautiful ereader app that was previously available only for iPad readers.  Kristian, the developer, offered me a free promo code but I bought the app and asked for a promo code to giveaway. He offered up five so there will be five promo codes available at the end of the review.

Marvin for iPhone

I’ve always thought the Marvin App was beautiful and I still believe that. With its adherence to the importance of white space, the Marvin App is clean, easy to use, with a wealth of customization features.  From a reviewer’s standpoint, it doesn’t get much better than this (although it might be a great app for authors to proof their books and editors to read submissions). From a reader’s standpoint, it requires some technical knowledge because there is no Marvin store.

Accessing Books

The primary negative feature to the Marvin App is that it allows you to read only DRM free ePubs primarily purchased at other retailers.  Thus it requires some technical knowledge to get started using Marvin and get books onto the Marvin App.  There are a few ways to do this for readers like you and me.  First and maybe the easiest is simply email yourself the ePub file. You can then use the “Open In” feature from within the email.

Marvin access options

Second is using Dropbox. If you have a folder where all your ePubs are stored and that folder is linked to the Dropbox cloud, you can easily access your ebooks from the Dropbox connection. Marvin will search for all files ending in .ePub and offer them to you in a list format, no covers.  Using Dropbox also enables you to use the location sync between your devices.

Third is using Calibre which I talk about below.

Fourth is a connection to a OPDS catalog.

  • Create your own:  I’ve blogged about using Calibre and Calibre OPDS to create such a catalog.
  • Use Calibre’s default catalog: If you are connected to the same internet as your Calibre, you can access the Calibre default OPDS server which requires you simply to know the address of your Calibre server.  For MACS go to Spotlight ->Network Utility and look for your IP Address. FOR PCS go to Start – > run and type in ipconfig.  Look for the IP address or IPV4 IP Address.  In Marvin, type in the IP address followed by :8080/opds. Then you’ll need to go to the heart, select Calibre to download the OPDS feed.


You are allowed to sort by Title, Author, Series & Number, Date Added and Last Read.  The Library View shows a list of books. Swipe to the left to access the menu. From there you can share, organize (put into a collection), take actions, edit and/or view the metadata and delete.

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In addition to categories, Marvin has status updates for the books.  Red = New book; Blue = read; and Green=reading list.

Marvin Reading Status

A couple things to remember when you are using Marvin and that is the options screens, you need to swipe to the right or left to access more options. The first screen is never the only screen. Probably this should be a UI change to give notice that there are more option screens available.

Social Media

The social media interface is one of the more robust among apps.  You can share via Facebook and Twitter, but you can also enter a list of names of friends you often correspond with and send them highlights and notes throughout the book. Even better, for reviewers, you can send yourself the entire highlights and notes file via email in CSV or HTML form.

Email notes to myself from Marvin

Calibre + Marvin

The Marvin App has been adopted by the MobileReads community and one of the Calibre plugin developers created a Marvin driver.  This works only with the iOS device plugged in to the computer.  Once the device is plugged in, however, you can easily transfer items to and from your iOS device.

  1. You need to install two plugins to Calibre: iOS Reading Applications and Marvin Driver.
  2. Restart Calibre.
  3. Once Calibre is restarted, you must go to Preferences -> Plugins and search for IOS Reading App.  Highlight and Customize the app so that Marvin is your default reading app.iOS Reading App Customize
  4. Quit Calibre
  5. Attach IOS device with USB cord.
  6. Restart Calibre.
  7. Go to IOS Device and open Marvin App.  Click on the menu button in the bottom and select the “cloud” icon. Click on Calibre and it will say “Ready”.  On your computer, it should recognize an iOS device.

In the future, you need only to repeat steps 5-7.  Once the iOS device is attached, you can easily “Send to Device” any books in your library and they will appear in your Marvin App.  Important: Marvin does not work in the background. If you close out of the Marvin App, you cannot connect to the library until the Marvin App is open and showing on your IOS screen.

Beyond just transferring books from your Calibre library to Marvin App, however, is the ability to manage your Marvin App from within Calibre.  Look for the blue Marvin XD+ icon.

Marvin XD icon


You can view and sync your metadata with that in your Calibre library.  The more that you use calibre to sort and organize your files, the more meaningful your organization can be on Marvin.

Marvin Calibre Sync


Ultimately the question is whether the Marvin App is worth $4.99. For iPad users, the App is free. The cost is solely for the iPhone users. There are two things that elevate the Marvin App and if those two things are vital to you, then it is worth it. First, the ability to email yourself the entire set of highlights and annotations is awesome.  Second, the easy interface with Calibre makes it easy to organize and access your entire library of books.  If you’re interested in Marvin, enter the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway