While some people still buy dedicated e-reader devices, many readers have moved on to smartphones and tablets. Apple's iBooks and Google Play Books already do a great job as stock apps, but specialist reading apps can add numerous extras, from highly configurable settings, support for odd formats, read-all-you-can subscriptions and more. Check out 10 of our favorite alternative e-book reader apps, from convenient, all-in-one marketplace-reader combinations to feature-packed and highly customizable standalone readers, as well as subscription-based unlimited reading services.
Amazon's Kindle app (Android, iOS) is a multi-platform e-book juggernaut, featuring marketplace, reader and library management features. More than a million titles are available in the Kindle store, from the latest bestsellers to free classics. A customizable display lets you set font size, brightness and other settings. Also, Kindle syncs your last page read, bookmarks, highlights and notes between devices and platforms. A new addition is a Kindle Unlimited program that gives Kindle users access to thousands of audiobooks and e-books for a monthly fee.
Another ebook reader to check out is Bookari (Android, iOS) (formerly known as Mantano Reader), which supports EPUB and PDF formats (including Adobe DRM support). Bookari features a customizable and feature-packed reader, with a variety of features such as reader themes, a night mode, text search, annotation and a pinnable navigation panel for easy jumping between chapters, bookmarks and pages. The $4.99 paid version of the app adds additional features, and a premium subscription to Mantano Cloud adds support for library and reading progress syncing across devices.
While Amazon boasts of its Unlimited program, it wasn't first off the bat in providing an unlimited access program for books. Scribd (Android, iOS) offers an unlimited access program for ebooks, which was compared to a "Netflix for books." Scribd features a library of more than 500,000 books from 900-plus publishers across a variety of genres. The app features a customizable display as well as curated editorial collections, personalized recommendations based on your reading history and the ability to download books for offline reading.
Google Play Books (Android, iOS) is the search giant's own entry in the ebook reader app field. Of the two versions, the Android version is the stronger, with Google Play integration letting you easily shop for books (as opposed to going to the browser in iOS). Reading customization lets you tweak the typeface, font size, and line space, while night space keeps it easy for your eyes in the dark. Text highlighting, a built-in dictionary and map search give you lots of features to play with, and the obligatory syncing features saves your reading position across devices. In addition to reading your Google Play Books titles, you can also upload their own PDF and EPUB files if you want to import an existing collection.
Why spend a ton of money on ebooks if your library already has a digital media lending system? Overdrive (Android,iOS) allows users to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the digital collections of participating libraries, all without having to deal with the hassle of manual lending and return of paper books. OverDrive users can borrow titles from the library's collection 24/7, and users can create holds, wishlists and effortlessly return ebooks and audiobooks.
Bluefire Reader (Android, iOS) is a versatile e-book reader that handles EPUB and PDF files, with support for annotations and Adobe Content Server DRM. Bluefire has a clean, customizable viewer that allows you to set text size and margin widths, themes and a night mode, as well as a table of contents and bookmarks. Users can highlight, set annotations, search the text, look up definitions and share excerpts. The iOS version also includes reading location synchronization, allowing you to switch between devices without losing your reading location.
Barnes & Nobles' entry in the e-book reader field, the Nook app (Android, iOS), is a pretty strong contender. A selection of more than 4 million paid and free e-books, magazines, comics and other publications means readers are spoiled for choice. Plus, customizable settings for fonts, margins, line breaks and night mode give you even more choices. Cross-device and platform syncing through your Nook account let you save your notes, last page read and other settings across devices. In particular, the Android version has received an interface refresh, with a redesigned home screen and more organization options to sort your collection.