E-Book Reader Mini Review


Deleted User

I just switched to Android (Motorola Droid) after several years of using uBook on the Win Mobile platform. That powerful e-reader can view virtually any format you throw at it, is full-featured, and highly configurable. But it's anything but pretty.

So with that experience in mind, I tried to find an Android e-book reader which had similar features. The three which seemed most widely-used are:

FB Reader 0.5.27 (FBReader: FBReader for Google Android)
Aldiko 1.2.5 (Aldiko - eBook Reader Application for Android)
Books WordPlayer 11.0.1 (WordPlayer:Reading Released)

Each of them open epub files, but only FB Reader would open any other formats (oeb and fb2). However, thanks to the genuis of calibre (calibre - E-book management) a free e-book management and conversion application which can convert between almost any format invented, having a reader which can read a specific format is less important - simply use calibre to convert it to epub.

Each of the readers has the following features:
-- Configurable fonts (color/style/size)
-- One button toggle for day/night mode
-- Bookmarks

None of them has annotations/highlighting, which is the feature I miss the most from uBook (Word-Player apparently does, per its home page, but per the devs, that feature is not working in Droid).

FB Reader
This is the oldest of the ebook readers, with versions available for multiple platforms. It is also butt-ugly, with an interface that makes my trusty uBook seem spiffy by comparison. (e.g. you have to select books from a list, not icons). And the cover displays in only 1/3 of the screen, in the top left corner (presumably FB Reader is not yet designed for the hi-resolution Droid).

FB Reader was also the buggiest of the three readers. It crashed frequently when trying to change font size, only curable by rebooting the phone, and froze up randomly. Also the Table of Contents was faulty - it would only show one chapter. Another quirk - the menu system appears to be in flux - the font settings was buried in a menu called "Settings (Old)".

Two pluses - (1) the FB Reader's bookmarks feature was the easiest to use of three. Selecting "Bookmarks" brought up one screen at which you could both see a list of recent bookmarks, and add one with one-touch. But the ease of use comes with the loss of flexibility - the bookmark is named after the first few lines of the page, w/o the ability to override it, and (2) it has the option to show/hide the status bar while reading.

This one seemed promising at first, if only because it interfaced with calibre directly. It was also the only ereader to have text-to-speech, but with a voice that not even a mother could love that also read formatting, it was too distracting to use. One other plus - you could point it to any folder on your SD card to find an book, and it would import it.

This reader was the slowest of the three - chapters took forever to load, and switching between day/night modes was just as painfully slow, as if the entire chapter had to be reloaded.

A couple of other quirks/bugs - a single italiziced letter would often not display, and it added several white blank pages to the end of each chapter.

This is certainly the prettiest of the three ebook readers. It also has agreements with various download sites to enable downloading of something like 10,000 ebooks, but the selection was poor, seeming to consist primarily of sex stories (or erotica). However, since I simply use the reader to view my own epubs, this feature didn't matter to me. And it also was easy to download epubs from the web - clicking on an epub file would import it into Aldiko.

This was my favorite of the ebook readers - the devs put a lot of thought into the interface and usability, and I found no bugs. Chapters loaded quickly, it was the only reader which supported css (though not the @font-face attribute), has fully-configurable gestures, and even an option to brighten/dim the screen by swiping the screen w/o leaving the page you're on.

The bookshelf has to be seen to be believed - beautiful icons, intuitive, and the ability to sort by author, tag. Finally, you can share books via facebook, twitter, e-mail, or even SMS(?).

This would be the ideal ebook reader, and a great replacement for uBook if only it had annotations & highlighting (dev says "we will definitely add in the near future", though there have been two updates in the month since then, and still no dice). And I miss the customized status bar that uBook has, with page number / total pages, and the time.


Android Expert
Very nice post, thanks!

I just tried Alkido, it's great!

You know what I'd like is the option for auto- scroll. I had that on my Blackberry and it was great for the gym.

Really appreciate your post.


Very nice summary fo the eBook readers, thanks.

Personally, I started off with Aldiko which is a really nice app, has a lot of pretty extras that make it worthwhile. I have a large ebook library, much of which I can convert to epub easily.

You're missing out on one rather interesting eBook reader, though, which I discovered last night whilst looking for a book in particular.

This reader is an interface to the Kobobooks.com website, formally called Shortcovers. They say that "in 2010" the name will change to reflect the new branding.

The application seems to work OK as a reader. It doesn't have the niceties of Aldiko, such as night mode or easy screen brightness adjustment, and the font is much less crisp, IMO, but that's a matter of taste. Finding and selecting books could be improved, I still have to work out how some navigation bits work.

The main draw of this application is that it has the ability to read DRMed books sold on their website, which is a huge advantage given that a lot of publishers still insist that their contenr be protected this way. The book selection on the website is fairly extensive, and the application makes it easy to buy and download them. The DRM format is fairly future-proof as it's the Adobe Digital Editions one which is supported by all the major ebook readers - such as Sony, Cool-Er, Kindle - and is based on the industry standard EPUB format, so will hopefully not disappear into oblivion the way, say, Mobipocket seem to be.

So, yeah, if you want to read mainstream books still available in the stores, this is possibly your only option. And it's not that bad an option. ;)


Android Expert
Very nice post, thanks!

I just tried Alkido, it's great!

You know what I'd like is the option for auto- scroll. I had that on my Blackberry and it was great for the gym.

Really appreciate your post.

Can you load your own ebooks to this App? Thanks


Android Expert
I've emailed the Aldiko developer w/a request to add timed scrolling (set a speed at which the pages move forward) for use in places like a gym where it's inconvenient to change pages manually when you're on an exercise machine.

If anyone else is interested in that, please drop them an email as well from their marketplace entry...

This app has everything else I need at this point, and a cute/clever interface that appeals to me...


I had already download Aldiko and found it rather intriguing for the library it had access to. However I was unaware of Calibre which makes all the .lit eBooks I thought I was done with usable on here, so thank you VERY much.


Android Expert
For folks who purchased DRM ebooks thru eReader, back during your other-platform days (Palm, etc.), that free ereader is now available to handle those same books on the Android platform. Download at eReader.com.
eReader.com: Get the Latest Software from eReader.com!

And it has an auto scrolling feature, as well as highlighting, bookmarking and annotations. You can also change font sizes and colors, and background colors. Only downside is that it will only read ebooks in eReader format (.pdb).


Android Enthusiast
Another applicatin that I have used in the past in called iSilo. iSilo

IT supports several different formats, autoscrolls, and allows several settings to be changed, including font sizes. I had this on my WinMo phone and now that I just got an android phone and looking to see if there is something better out there.:rolleyes: