The Best Multi-Format eBook Reader iPad
If like me you have a craving for a “one-size-fits-all” eBook reader ipad or Comic reader ipad but can’t lay your hands on the best solution read on! Whilst planning our holiday to Mexico the number one thing on my mind was “what books to take”, my partner was worrying sun cream and exchange rates but I was more concerned with what universe I wanted to get lost in. Enter the iPad! I don’t stick strictly to PDF or ePub formats, i read comics in CBR and CBZ too, so I went on the hunt for a well rounded “does-it-all” ebook reader. I have paid apps and free apps but for this rundown I will only deal with free apps available through the iTunes store, I will touch on one paid app because it definitely deserves note.
iBooks is generally the go to app for most people when reading an ebook on their iOS devices, not only is it cross device but you can access the bookstore right there inside app. iBooks has its limits, there is little format support and virtually no content management system to speak of. If you’re looking for functionality this probably isn’t the app for you. It is free and comes built in so give it a shot but don’t stop looking for a more suitable solution.
Much the same as iBooks although in my opinion the GUI is far less appealing and they have removed bookstore access from within the app. Purchasing kindle books on the fly is clunky to say the least as you need browse the Amazon site, I have the Amazon window shop app but that isn’t much help either. Like iBooks you can choose to read in night mode and sepia or change font but that is more or less it. Kindle uses a DRM proprietary format, mobi, that makes buying kindle books tricky to integrate into other apps. (more on this later)
This is a unique app. Upon first look I loved the aesthetic, you can subscribe to free or paid regular magazines and when a new copy is available to gets posted through the letter box and is laying on the mat ready for your collection. Unfortunately like other readers you’re limited to ePub and PDF but the added magazine functionality makes this stand out above iBooks. The content management system is as limited as its competitors but graphically this is lovely.
Pulp Reader. 4/10
This app is a comic reader. I downloaded it in the hope that it may offer more formats than the typical comic readers out there. It is available for free in iTunes store and is definitely worth a look for you comic lovers. Like other paid apps the management system is good, allowing you to ‘stack’ your comics to keep your shelf neat and tidy. Graphically Pulp reader is really nice, you can choose different themes to style it to your liking and everything from the colours to the font family really compliment it’s simplicity. You’re limited to CBR and CBZ but hopefully they’ll add support for other formats because it’s a beautiful app to use.
Magic Reader. 3/10
I was disappointed with this app. Provisionally the offering is good. It supports zipped image archives, so CBR is good here, and PDF formats but everything else about the app seems rushed. Called Magic Reader because it uses the iPad 2′s front camera to detect your face and with a head movement to the left or right will change pages for you. A great concept but, thus far, a poor execution. I have tried the technique in every imaginable lighting condition but for me it just won’t work, if I have a hand in front of it I get it to work 40% of the time. There is really no content management system to speak of with all books being dumped into the library screen. The promise was good but so far it doesn’t deliver. Hopefully updates to the app will set these issues right, if and when that happens the experience will be something special.
Bluefire Reader. 6/10
I was impressed with this app. Although graphically it’s nothing to sing about it functions brilliantly and does what it says in the tin. You’re still restricted to PDF and ePub format but the added functionality of downloading free books is a real plus. From within the app you have access to hundreds of books across many genres that you can download in either ePub or PDF. The content management system isn’t particularly strong but you have big bold book covers allowing easy navigation. There are a multitude of customisations when you’re reading such as changing text colour, page colour, size, theme and font so if you like reading red text on a green page this is for you.
Side Books. 7/10
I love this app. This has replaced any other reader as my primary PDF app. Side Books, bizarrely, is limited to PDF and CBR/CBZ making it great to read your PDF books and your comics, added support of ePub would make this app my number one all rounder. The management system is great allowing you to stack your collections on the shelf so you can keep a handle on your catalog. It displays the spines of your books, hence Side Books, so you can see a large number of your titles without scrolling around. You can even zoom in to read the spines if needed. You have multiple themes to choose from to make your shelf look awesome or you can buy the in app purchase (69p) and add the ability to download tons more or use a pic from your gallery!There are countless more apps that you should try, Bookman(a paid app) is great, I use this too, and apps like Comic Zeal or Stanza that have so much Internet real estate devoted to them it’s fruitless to reprint it here.
Let’s get technical…
So as you can see it is a little disappointing to note that currently there isn’t an app for that! I mean, there isnt an app that handles all the formats I need, such as; PDF, ePub, mobi, CBR and CBZ but there is a solution. It may be a little long winded but never the less it is a powerful one. Enter Calibre. The free opensource ebook management software. With this software you can convert between formats and even transfer the books to your device without leaving the app. Although I don’t know how you can even remove drm from kindle books and migrate them to your app of choice! More on the software is readily available from their site or google but in a nutshell I use it to convert my PDF’s and CBR to ePub format then I use iBooks to view everything. Or another way would be convert all your ePub’s to PDF and use Side Books as your default app, it already supports PDF and CBR so half the work is already done. I will be expanding this post as new apps are released but I hope this has helped you make a choice as to what reader you should use.