The iPad is a multifaceted device with e-book reading being one of the premier aspects. Apple has also devoted significant resources to ensure e-book reading on the iPad is a pleasure inducing affair. Presented below are a few apps that vies for consumer attention on the back of usability, depth of content as such.
iBooks is Apple’s very own e-book reading applications and has quickly risen to the ranks of being the best e-book reading application on account of the stupendous success the iPad has met with since its inception. This notwithstanding the fact that e-book reading is just one facet of a lot of things that the device allows its users to engage in. This however does not undermine the ease of use the app provides for. This again is hardly surprising considering the app is best integrated for the iPad which means there is no requirement of any external software to read books. Also, with the iBook Store just a tap or two away, there won’t ever be any dearth of good e-book to read.
However, with that being the state of affairs with the Apple e-book reading app, it also has been the subject of some harsh criticism with experts often blaming Apple of having put a heavy emphasis on the looks and feel aspects of the app which has been at the cost of functionality and usability. So while the app looks great and page turns almost as it looks on a real book, users have often complained about the inability to maximize the e-books to make the most of all available screen real estate and so on. The inability to remove pagination graphic is another irritant. The iBooks search is another feature that needs to be worked upon as searching by keyword is still to come of age and till that happens, searching by title is the only options of users to resort to. Categories too are too general which means search by categories i another pain inducing affair.
That said, there are several pluses with the iBook application which can be used to read ePub and PDF files. This can be not only from the Apple iStore but also those sourced from Project Guntenberg or any of the user’s own ePub or PDF files as well. Readability is excellent which is enhanced further with the Retina Display that the new iPad 3 boasts of. That there are no distracting ads or other such things is another big plus. Users also have the options to pen down notes for specific passages which is nice for research and later reference.
The Bluefire Reader is one of the best independent e-book reading app for the iPad with its biggest positive being that it uses the Adobe Digital Editions DRM platform. What this means is that the Bluefire app can be used to read DRM-protected PDF and ePub e-books that you might have purchased from independent e-book retailers. This is also the reason that makes the app just perfect to read e-books borrowed from public libraries. With this app, the user won’t be tied down to a particular ecosystem.
The Bluefire Readers also offers the usual customization options such as font sizes, line spacing, color schemes and so on.
Amazon is the pioneer in this field and is the one that had started the entire thing in the first place. However, with the demographic change that the entire e-book segment has gone through, Amazon has found itself to be in direct competition with Apple. So the best thing Amazon can do is device a Kindle app for iOS which will allow users of the iPad to continue to buy from over 1,000,000 e-books that Amazon hosts. Its somewhat of a symbiosis here as Apple wouldn’t like to leave out such a huge e-books collection for iPad users while for Amazon too, the lure of showcasing such a huge collection to users of the biggest selling iPad is just too big to resist.
The app too works fine and reading book off it is also a pleasure experience. However, there is no way users can buy books directly from within the app. Instead, uses will have to do that via the Safari browser. Also, as is usually the case, the app is heavily dependent on the Amazon e-book store but should be a boon for those who have already invested substantially on the Amazon ecosystem.
Barnes & Noble NOOK:
The B&N Nook e-book app follows the same principle as the Amazon, allowing non Nook users to source their books from the huge B&N store that comprise of more than two million e-books. What makes the Nook app all the more special is that it offer more customizable options than other paid content reader. These include different font sizes, font types, colors schemes or margins. All of these are great for providing the best reading experience based on personal preferences. These are in addition to the usual reader app preferences such as notes, highlights, bookmarks, searching within the book, sync last page read, dictionary look-up and such.
The Kobo is another of the big three trio (Amazon and B&N being the other two) that offers an opening to the vast Kobo e-book store via its Kobo app on the iPad. Also, similar to the Kindle or Nook apps, the Kobo app is tied to the Kobo e-book store and won’t respond to any other e-books downloaded from any other source other than the Bobo book store. This apart, the Kobo also boasts of a fair share of customization options that all reader apps boasts of.
Google Books is the newest addition to the reader apps available for the iPad and comprises of no less than 3 million e-books. Apart from providing for a nice reading experience, the Google Book app boasts of some unique qualities such as VoiceOver support, or offline reading. Another interesting feature with the Google Books is that many of the volumes from the Google book store are actually scanned copies of the actual literature, which means users will get to see the original form of the literature including the typsetting and illustrations wherever present. On the flip side though, users may not get to see the book in its entirety as page may be shown to be warped depending on how the pages were treated on the scanning device. However, for the more important titles, Google also offers the regular e-book mode that will offer them in proper e-book format. Readers will just have to select ‘Flowing Text’ to enable viewing in e-book format.
Another nice aspect of the Google Book app is the night reading mode which when invoked will present the text in inverted white against black texts. What further enhances the night mode of reading is the seven different typefaces it offers along with a wide variety of text sizes.
Also what makes the Google Book app different from the others is its heavy dependence on cloud connectivity. What this means is that none of the free scanned e-books will be downloaded in the iPad. Instead, they will be loaded on to cloud storage directly from the internet and is hence very network intensive. This won’t be an ideal situation in those areas that suffer from network issues.
Stanza is another popular e-book reading app that is not tied to any particular store. Interestingly, its Amazon that are the current owners of it but has kept it store independent. What adds to the app’s appeal is that it is compliant with a range of e-book formats which includes Mobipocket, PalmDoc (DOC), Microsoft LIT, HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word and Rich Text Format (RTF).
Stanza is also tied to a range of booksellers such as Feedbooks, Random House, Harlequin, Project Gutenberg, Munseys, BookGlutton, Mutopia and PanMacmillan from which users can source their e-book requirements. The app also boasts of solid functionality as well as an excellent search utility.