Thursday, February 3, 2011

Exploring Android-friendly eBook Readers


A colleague asked recently, "Are there any ePub readers available for this 7 inch Android tablet?" 

This question caught me by surprise...could an Android tablet really work well as a Nook? Although I hadn't really thought of it, it appears that a Nook is 7 inches in height and 4.x in width. Why couldn't it?


This is a question I've asked myself in the past, but I realize that I hadn't explored it in the detail needed to provide a comprehensive answer (not that this one will be that comprehensive!). Although I've played with ePub reader software, or apps, in the Google Market, as I am a fast reader, I found the screen of my Android phone (Motorola Cliq) to be a tad small for comfortable reading...flicking the page forward a zillion times just didn't make for an enjoyable reading experience.

Let's see...for an Android tablet to be worthwhile as a reading platform, it would have to be at least as good as my Nook:
  • About the same screen size so I wouldn't have to turn the page 1300 times for a 300 page book. Maybe 600 page turns would be acceptable.
  • It would have to have an ePub reader, the format I primarily have all my ebooks in and that is popular on the Web.
  • It would be easy to get the ebooks from my computer onto the Android tablet...maybe, as easy as plugging the Android in so that I could access the SD card as a USB drive on my computer's desktop. My motorola Cliq--an Android device--does this now, so how hard it could it be for an Android tablet?
From this short list, maybe the following questions:
  1. What are the screen dimensions of the Android tablet?
  2. What ePub reader is available through the Market?
  3. Is there an miniSD or SD card slot available on the tablet?
  4. Does it come with a USB cable connection?
  5. What version of the Android OS will run on the tablet?
I'm not sure what other questions would be helpful to ask, but these are certainly a start!

At this time, not having been able able to lay hands on the Android tablet, about the only question I can answer is "What ePub reader is available through the Market?" I've played with a few on my Android phone, such Aldiko and Laputa. Of the two, Laputa is my favorite. 


Get Laputa:

Of course, there are many other ebook readers that will work on Android; here are a few that are no-cost:
  1. Laputa - This allows you to access book online, but more importantly, import books you may have stored on your SD (mini or not) card.
  2. AldikoAldiko supports ePub and PDF, as well as Adobe eBook DRM technology. 
  3. Cool ReaderSupports epub (non-DRM), fb2, txt, rtf, html, chm, tcr formats.
  4. FBReader - This supports ePub format, as well as other more eccentric ones. There are desktop apps available for Windows and GNU/Linux.
  5. Nook/Kindle for Android - Since I own a Nook, I'd probably install Nook for Android...and I'm sure a Kindle owner would do the same for Kindle app on Android.
You can find a comprehensive list online here, but these are the top 5 I would try first (and in this order) if searching for an ebook/ePub reader for an Android device, such as a tablet.


Rusty said...

Miguel, if you like reading on your Nook, you should love it on a 7" Android. I agree with you that Nook is the best choice of the big name readers, precisely because it's an Android at heart - and because (as you know) it's more open format friendly than Kindle. When you take the plunge and "root" it, you'll really have something!

I've recently gained experience with a couple of 7" Android models, one of which only cost $99 incl shippg at Best Buy online. Even when not on sale, the Velocity Cruz Reader is available at Borders for about $120, though normally $149 elsewhere. The Cruz (Reader) will never run better than Android 2.0 but rooted will run any ereader app and provide quick access to Internet including Twitter, FaceBook (Hootsuite), Pandora (even while reading) & YouTube or basic games.

But your post is about the ereader apps for Android, many of which I've tried at least briefly. You missed the Google ereader app but it was a disappointment anyway for reasons I don't recall. Kobo is another choice that worked well on an Archos 7" with Android 2.2 but for some reason has a problem on 2.0 (or just the Cruz?)

My wife is happy to finally be able to buy from Amazon so she uses the Kindle app; but I think the features of the Nook app are better, though I've only looked at free titles there.

Browsing multiple catalogs with ability to add more, especially public domain and other free offerings, is where the others such as Laputa shine but Aldiko has added advantage of Adobe DRM component. We had bought several ebooks from Kobo last year and I was able to add their catalog to Aldiko & download our DRM purchases.

DRM may be a necessary evil but open formats are a must, which is why I've long tried to divert my wife's desire for a Kindle device. The Android 7" format seems to have satisfied her pretty well.

Wish I could remember more about the FBReader but I definitely recommend their catalog.

Miguel Guhlin said...

Rusty, thanks for the feedback! Great sharing! I hadn't heard of the Velocity Cruz Reader...are you recommending it over, say an Archos 7 inch Android tablet?

Guided by your expertise (not to mention your ability to convince your wife to forsake the evil DRM'd Kindle),


Miguel Guhlin said...

Uhh, Amazon, I was just joking about that last remark! ;->

Rusty said...

If $120 is what you have to spend or you can find it for $99 and don't mind a little root hacking, then you wouldn't regret it, but other than price, the Cruz Reader can't compete with an Archos Internet Tablet at $275. I have lost access to the Archos for now and not sure I'll have it for the Austin trip like I hoped.

Velocity Cruz has two 7" Androids but the one sold as "Reader" is a nearing-obsolete Droid 2.0 "strip-o" with resistive screen, no cam or mike, 800mhz processor clocked to 533, limited app space (unless that is hacked also) & barely passable speakers. Strong points not mentioned earlier include full-size SD slot and good community support for rooting on

Archos has an extensive line of Androids including a cheaper 7" "Home Media Tablet" model that you won't want to confuse with the "7o Internet Tablet" which I got for evaluating Android & 7" alternatives to the iPad in schools. As such, full features were as important as price, given what it would be compared to.

IF (big IF) tablets are the future of 1:1 in schools, I think the 7" form factor might be more ideal than 9/10" and Android more adaptable than iOS. The tablet scene is developing pretty fast but by the time either becomes particularly practical for 1:1, smart-phones may be ready to steal the show & for now I'm still hanging on to my netbook.

Well I talk a lot but sometimes Miguel you bring up a subject that gets me started. Still, don't necessarily count my voluble passion for expertise.

The Courage to Lead