Best Mobile Reading Apps
Last week I gave a round up of the reading apps for desktop systems but many of the readers use mobile devices to read and with the upcoming sale of the iPhone for Verizon and the numerous Android smartphones and tablets that are either for sale or hitting the market, mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular. I have the most familiarity with iThing apps but we have had a great couple of summaries about Android reading apps as well.
IThing apps (iPhone/iTouch/iPad, OS4+)
- Bluefire. This is the app you will want to use if you download ebooks from your library. It is the one app (other than Txtr which I don’t recommend) that supports encrypted ePubs and PDFs purchased nearly everywhere, including BN as well as non encrypted epubs sideloaded or downloaded and opened via the web or email. It is buggy with jailbroken iPhones.
- Borders . The Borders app is basically an earlier generation version of the Kobo app (Borders apps are done by Kobo), it works, but has even fewer features than Kobo. Read only encrypted epubs purchased through Borders. There is no way to add your own content to this app.
- Books a Million. I have not personally tested this app. It purportedly works with encrypted epub books using Adobe DRM encryption and you can sideload encrypted ePubs from library or purchased from others retailers as well as unencrypted ePubs.
- Google. At this time, you can read encrypted epubs purchased only at Google eBooks. No sideloading allowed at this time.
- iBooks. Encrypted epubs and PDFS purchased from the iBookstore and non encrypted epubs and PDFs sideloaded or via email.
- Kindle Encrypted Kindle (azw and tpz) formats purchased from Kindle store as well as non encrypted mobi sideloaded or downloaded and opened via the web or email.
- Overdrive. Overdrive has recently updated their app to allow folks to read DRM'd ePub's from Overdrive sources, including Public Libraries. Another feature of this app is to download MP3 audiobook titles from the public library. You access the library from within the App itself, which is pretty neat. This is optimized for iPhone/iThing only. iPad version would be fine for the audiobooks but not for reading.
- nook. DRM’ed ebooks purchased from the BN ebookstore. No personal content via sideloading is allowed at this time.
- Stanza. Supports encrypted epubs, ereader, PDF format. Can annotate and share thoughts via email, facebook, twitter.
- Goodreader Non encrypted PDF. Can annotate and add books via the web.
There are others but I think these are the best of the bunch. PDFs look great on the iPad and not so great on the smaller devices. I, personally, use Kinde, Stanza and Goodreader. Here are some other links and tutorials that may be of help:
- How to use Bluefire
- Tips handling Adobe ePub encryption
- How to add Books to the iThing
- How different apps handle notes
- Aldiko. This is one of the first reading apps to come out for Android and it shows in its refinement. Aldiko 2 is out and adds support for DRM'd ePubs and PDF's and also library books.
- Borders. The Borders app is basically an earlier generation version of the Kobo app (Borders apps are done by Kobo), it works, but has even fewer features than Kobo. Read only encrypted epubs purchased through Borders. There is no way to add your own content to this app.
- Google. Read encrypted epubs purchased only at Google eBooks. No sideloading allowed at this time.
- Kindle. Encrypted Kindle books purchased from Amazon and DRM Free Mobipocket files (.prc/.mobi) can be sideloaded into this app by adding them to your devices Kindle folder, they will then show up on your home screen.
- Kobo. Encrypted epubs purchased around the ‘net including at the Kobo store but NOT BN ebooks. DRM Free ePub files can be added to this app by using the "Import' menu option, the app will search your device (it will also find any DRM'd ePub's) and there are checkboxes to select what books to add.)
- Overdrive. Overdrive has recently updated their app to allow folks to read DRM'd ePub's from Overdrive sources, including Public Libraries. Another feature of this app is to download MP3 audiobook titles from the public library (and I'd suppose OD retailers), it would be even better if it also allowed for WMA audiobooks which a lot of popular titles are.
- Nook Encrypted epubs purchased around the ‘net including at the nook store. DRM Free ePub files can be sideloaded into this app by adding them to your devices Nook/MyDocuments folder. They will then show up under My Documents on the main screen. The titles Brian sideloaded did not display their covers.
- Sony. This is a fairly new app
For a more indepth look at the Android apps, you can read this wonderful piece by Brian.
I have an android. I have the Kindle app, the Nook app and Aldiko.
I started out with the Aldiko app. I loved Aldiko before Aldiko 2 but Aldiko 2 is a beautiful thing. I use it for anything I buy from Fictionwise and other independent publishing companies who offer the epub or pdf option.
Aldiko takes the cake for me when it comes to organizing my ebooks and presentation. I love the bookshelf and how I can create book collections. The collections feature is especially useful since I have a TBR collection. It helps me remeber what I’ve read, what I haven’t read and which books are my favorites.
Presentation wise, you can choose colors for your background and text. There are plenty of colors to choose from. Nice because black & white tends to be harsh on my eyes.
Aldiko shows you page numbers as well. Tap on the middle of the screen to see the progress bar or choose the option where you can see the page number. Tapping the middle of the screen also brings up my phone’s main top bar, allowing me to keep track of how much battery power is left.
Kindle wins out when it comes to purchasing and selection. The Kindle app is killing my budget because there is a ridiculous number of ebooks to choose from.
Amazon has a great selection whether it’s ebooks or print books. I can get alot of older books with the Kindle app that I can’t find in bookstores. Sometimes with an older book I’ll read it on my phone first before deciding if I want to own it print. I have limited space in my apartment, so that’s nice.
If it wasn’t for how many ebooks I have to choose from with the Kindle app and the ability to buy with one click and then *Tah Dah* your book appears…I would absolutely hate it.
Horrible when it comes to organizing your ebooks. Why? there’s no bookshelf, no ability to create collections or do anything to organize and keep track of your books really. That’s a big negative for me.
Black, white and sepia are the colors to choose from for background and text. Ech.
Page numbers? From what I’ve seen the Kindle app does not show page numbers. It tracks your progress with locations. I tried figuring the locations system out and…someone’s going to have to explain it to me. I’ll take a page number any day.
The Nook app. The selection is nowhere near as vast as the Kindle app. The presentation and organizational options are nowhere near as wonderful as Aldiko’s.
And no sideloading?! Ugh.
Basically, I’m so underwhelmed with the Nook app that I will most likely uninstall it.
All in all, Aldiko is the app I love unconditionally. Now, if it had the selection that Kindle has, Aldiko would be the only reading app on my android.
Jane – I have a bright shiny new android so this info came just in time. Thanks! And now a question. While reading this and Brian’s article I came across the term ‘rooted my nook’ (sounds kinky, but I suspect it’s not) and someone else rooted her phone. Huh? What’s that? So much to learn ….
FYI – I needed a compatible reader for my BlackBerry Storm for my Kindle, but to my disappointment, the Kindle app isn’t available outside the US.
But the Mobipocket beta reader is, and it works just as well. Don’t install the standard one because you only get half a screen, and don’t let the beta bit put you off. It works a treat with everything except locked Kindle books.
And I’m hoping that when I visit the States next month (next month, squee!) I’ll be able to download and install the Kindle reader.
Thanks for this. I didn’t realize Overdrive had updated their software to include being able to use mp3 on idevices. I can easily borrow from the public library now!
The Books A Million app is powered by Bluefire. The main difference between the two apps is in the catalogs: BAM app is limited to its own store; Bluefire Reader app has additional stores.
I tried the Nook app for Android and found that it does a poor job handling sideloaded content. It doesn’t always read the page numbers correctly, so bookmarks and go-to page function don’t always work. And B&N took away the option of deleting sideloaded content from within the app.
@brooksse: “It doesn't always read the page numbers, so bookmarks and go-to page function don't always work.” Is in reference to side-loaded content. Works fine with B&N content.
I find I need to use both Txtr and Bluefire. While I love the Bluefire app in general I dislike the inability to edit meta data (using Calibre to edit the meta data and send to the eBook to iTunes and then load into Bluefire has had limited success). Bluefire also runs out of memory if you have too many eBooks loaded (I had to reduce the number of eBooks to under 350 before Bluefire would stop crashing). I also dislike the way Bluefire won’t sort the eBooks properly when I select to sort by author. In my opinion Bluefire also doesn’t handle DRM PDF’s very well.
While loading the eBooks on to Txtr is a cumbersome process at least I can have my eBooks in the order that I want. The latest update for Txtr has also returned the sort function and when I sort by author, the eBooks are listed in alphabetical order.
Jane, thanks for all the info. I found it tough to install the Overdrive app on my Android, since it wasn’t in the “market”; but this Youtube video from Seattle (King County) Library is great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBVZ1TV2SIE. (I live in New York, but Overdrive info still applies.) While I wait for my requested ebook to be “ready” in my public library cart..I’m thrilled I also have the immediacy of the Kindle app.
I’m a Kindle girl and after reading 1LAD’s comments, I thought I would chime in. Last month Kindle added a collections feature which allows you to organize your titles by whatever folder names you want. Its a little tedious at first, but once you have your titles sorted, adding anything new going forward is a snap. Also, kindle’s next update is supposed to include “real page numbers”. As an avid reader and reviewer, I am looking forward to that update because the location numbers mean nothing to me and makes it hard to cite a specific page in a book.
Recently my daughter received a message from Pandora. She has reached her 400 hours of listening and they want her to start paying. Have you run across this by any chance? Is someone sending out bogus messages or is this possibly true?