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

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.

Buying Books on the iThings Now that the Catalogs Are Gone

Buying Books on the iThings Now that the Catalogs Are Gone

As of today, all of the book apps that work on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch = iThings)  have been stripped of the their in app catalogs and buy links.  The apps are not to mention why the catalogs or buy links have been removed and the apps cannot mention how to create an account or buy books even the app does not give a direct link.*

So how the heck do you get books onto the app itself?  This procedure is called sideloading and it’s fairly easy.


Apple has not removed the apps ability to sync purchases.  This means if you buy a book from BN, Kobo, or Amazon, you can use the automatic sync feature.

a.  Kindle You can still access all your purchases through the “Archive” link.  These are any books you’ve purchased but not downloaded to the App.

Kindle App Archived Items

b.  BN.  On the home page of the nook App, there is a small “ebook” dropdown.  Tap and it will bring up a filter. You can toggle between your downloaded books and those that are archived.   On the iPad, look for “archive” under “All Items” dropdown box.

Nook ebook archive filter

c.  Kobo.  *Kobo has gotten around this a bit by adding instituted a “Kobo News” feature which runs the Kobo blog posts.  Through the blog posts, you can easily find a link to the site.  Your Kobo purchases should be found in your library.  If they are not, you need to “refresh” your library.  If you have a number of books that you have purchased but are not in your “library” then it may take a few minutes for the library page to refresh.

Kobo app pull to refresh library

 Remember that any book you purchase from these companies are saved on their servers and deleting a book from your iThing only removes it from your device.  The Archive or Library is where you can access books you have purchased but removed from the devices.

Sideloading without a USB

Send an email to yourself.  If you have an ePub purchased from Kobo, Sony or BN, you can email yourself the book by attaching the file to an email. You can find  the files in your “My Documents” (PC) or “Documents” (MAC) folder.  Remember to email yourself the EPUB file and not the ACSM file.

epub v. acsm

You must choose TXTR or Bluefire Apps to read your DRMed files.  Do not email yourself a Kindle file.  You will get an error message that directs you to redownload it from your archived items.  If you have purchased a non DRMed MOBI, you can send yourself the mobi file as an attachment.

Use Calibre.

Using Calibre is essentially the same as emailing yourself an attachment, only this is more automated.  To set up this feature, click “Preferences”, and look for “sharing books by email.”

sharing books by email

Click on the icon and then add your email address by clicking on the “add email” button on the left side.  Then enter the “send email from” address. This will be the email address that will send you the book. It can be the same email address that receives it.  I.e., jane at as the send from email and jane at as the recipient is perfectly fine.  Set this email as default.

Kovid, the creator of Calibre, recommends you use GMAIL as the sender of your books. If you don’t have a GMAIL account, you can set one up just for this purpose.

Because of the large amount of spam in email, sending email can be tricky as different servers use different strategies to block email spam. The most common problem is if you are sending email directly (without a mail relay) in calibre. Many servers (for example, Amazon) block email that does not come from a well known relay. The easiest way around this is to setup a free GMail account and then goto Preferences->Email in calibre and click the “Use Gmail” button. calibre will then use Gmail to send the mail. Remember to update the email preferences in on your Amazon Kindle page to allow email sent from your Gmail email address.

Once you have the gmail account created and the mail server in Calibre setup, click apply and close.  Now go and select a file.  Right click and select “Connect/Share”.  Your email address should show up.

Email to feature in Calibre

You can send yourself DRM’ed epubs this way but again, no Kindle books.  Non DRM’ed Mobi and ePubs work the best.

Sideloading with a USB

To sideload using an iThing, you have to use iTunes and a USB cord. Once iTunes is open, navigate to Apps tab.

iTunes App tab

Scroll to the bottom under sync apps and the screenshots of your iThing to where it says “File Sharing”. On the left will be a list of Apps that allow you to add books and other files and on the right is a blank area where you will drag and drop your ePub files.

File Sharing iTunes section

As you can see here, I have Kobo, Stanza, Bluefire, and Borders. Only Bluefire will accept books that have a software lock called DRM. The rest of the apps will accept non DRM’ed epubs only. The nook app does not allow sideloaded books.  Select the app that you want to use to read your ePub by clicking your mouse on it. It should be highlighted. Then drag and drop the epubs you want to read onto the area on the right.

Sync your device and eject when complete.  (Complete instructions including using iBooks here)

Sideloading Using the Cloud

I covered this last week but basically you upload all your books to an online storage system like Dropbox, SugarSync or the like and then access the storage system from your iDevice, download and use the “Open In” feature.  Same caveats apply as above. Bluefire and Txtr for the DRM’ed epubs.  Non DMR’ed epubs and mobi formats for the rest of the apps. Nook does not allow you to sideload using any of the above mentioned features.


Now that your store has been taken away because of Apple’s rules, you will need to use Safari to visit your favorite ebookstore and make your purchases.  One easy way to do this is to make a bookmark on your home page.  The “home” pages are the pages where the App icons live.  Open Safari on your iThing and then type in your ebookstore.  Once it loads, hit the arrow in the box icon:

Add to Home Screen arrow in box

Select the “Add to Home Screen” choice.  Rename your bookmark and then check your home page.