Friday, October 25, 2013

E-Reading Apps and Their Quirks

These days, whenever I sit down in public and open up a book, it increasingly happens that the person who sits down next to me takes out an e-reader. With this proliferation of e-readers comes a proliferation of e-reading apps. So which one should you go with? Greg Zimmerman of BookRiot critiqued five of them.
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The five e-reading apps that Zimmerman reviewed for BookRiot are the Nook app, Kindle app, iBooks app, OverDrive app, and Bluefire app. All are available for iPad, Android, and Windows tablets, and each has its good points and bad points, according to Zimmerman. Here is the summary of his findings:

Nook/Kindle: Offers portability ("all the content I purchased for my Nook can be accessed through the Nook (or Kindle) app on an iPad, Android, or Windows tablet") but doesn't show page numbers while you're reading. (On the latter point, a few commenters on Zimmerman's article begged to differ: "My Nook shows what page I'm on," insisted Linda Weiss and another commenter.)

iBooks: Declaring this "the best pure e-reading app," Zimmerman said "it's smooth, very customizable, and seemingly crash-resistant." However, it doesn't allow you to download library e-books in epub format. So if you plan to get most of your e-reading material from libraries, this won't be a good app for you.

OverDrive: If you mostly go to libraries for your e-reading needs, this is the app for you. "Since many libraries are now tied into this app, it's easy to download the app, choose your library, enter your library card info, and check out e-books," said Zimmerman. Yet he found it to be slower and clunkier than the other apps, and it doesn't have a search function.

Bluefire: Zimmerman found that this app "solves the iBooks no-library-books and OverDrive no-search-function problems." However, it doesn't let you download library e-books directly into it on your tablet, forcing you to take a more roundabout route in getting the e-book you want. As a result, Zimmerman called the Bluefire app "unwieldy."

Many readers chimed in, offering opinions of Zimmerman's critique of these apps, as well as giving suggestions for good e-reading apps. Commenter Steve Himmer said, "I'm really pleased with Readmill. Good flexibility with formats, and simply but thoughtfully designed." "My favorite is the Marvin app for iPad," said Jon Page. "It is the most customizable reading app I've come across and links directly with Dropbox and Calibre." Commenter Peter Damien said, "I've been using the IndieBound e-reading app on my iPad for a while now, and I was surprised at how quickly I took to it. Very flexible formatting, very comfortable and easy to use."

For much more insight into these e-reading apps, including full critiques from Greg Zimmerman and lots of commentary from readers of his article, see "The Quirky World of E-Reading Apps" at THIS LINK.

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