Ebook Reader (for iPad) Findings.
I had been doing a lot of ebook reading on my iPad, but sometimes the experience was lacking due to the ereader application that I was using to read the book. Since then I put a variety of ereaders through their paces with various file types, and what follows is a summary of my findings.
I only evaluated iPad ereaders. My primary use for ereaders is for technical books, with fiction novels being a less common use case. As such these were the features I cared about:
- Easy to use & jank-free reading experience
- Nighttime reading mode with a dark background and light text
- Able to import ebooks from Dropbox. (Most of my ebooks are available in .epub, .mobi and .pdf formats. A few ebooks are only available in .pdf. A very few are also available in .daisy or, more rarely, .apk formats.)
- Displays code samples reasonably
- Dictionary look-up
- Font size changing
- Opens URLs
These were the applications I considered:
- Kindle (by Amazon)
- Nook by Barnes & Noble
- Google Play Books (by Google)
- iBooks (by Apple)
- Adobe Reader (by Adobe)
- Marvin (by Appstafarian)
- Marvin - a relative newcomer to the ereader scene - is well worth the $4 price on the App Store. It's jank free, has ebook searching abilities, and looks and behaves beautifully. It's also got Dropbox integration which saves me from having to suss long titles out of the Dropbox app. Nighttime reading mode was a bit tricky to find in the UI; I expected it to be in the brightness settings, but it was actually in the font settings under "Themes". It only reads .epub files, but it excels at doing so.
- For .pdfs, iBooks is the best option. Nook can't tell the the difference between a highlighting and a page-turn gesture. Reader doesn't have highlighting, dictionary look-up or even bookmarking functionality.
- Kindle is the only one capable of reading .mobi files. It does a pretty good job at doing so, but the highlighting functionality is a bit wonky.
- Each app which also sells stuff (Kindle, Nook, Play Books, iBooks) is good for reading the stuff it sells. Often you can score free ebooks this way.
- Play Books can open both .pdf and .epub files, but you have to upload them to Google, which then does some kind of conversion on them. When reading a .pdf, the text rendering was fuzzy, and then the app crashed. When reading an .epub, there wasn't any highlighting or note-taking functionality.
- Nothing reads .daisy files.