Reader's Corner: The New eBook Reader Apps for the iPhone

apple iPhoneAs Jane mentioned on her blog the other day, there’s a new update of firmware that will allow third party apps to be used on the old iPhone (old?) along with the launch of the new 3G iPhone. I can’t wait for her review of this modified second generation iPhone. I have no plans to upgrade. Aside from that, I do apologize to those readers who could care less about the iPhone and all the hype it has created. However, it really is nice to extend the functionality of your iPhone to read ebooks along with everything else that it does.

I went to the mall yesterday and saw a line that was a mile long outside the Apple store. That was just to get inside the store. Supposedly, the iPhone is being activated in the store and already there are reports online stating that some stores were not able to activate the iPhone on the new 3G network. Well, I upgraded by installing the new 2.0 update to my old iPhone and it feels brands new. Oh, the reason why I went to the Apple store was to get a new case for my phone but picked a bad time to do it because they no longer carry the old iPhone cases or anything related to the old iPhone. Really stupid move, IMO. Moving on. Well, the new ebook apps that are available for the iPhone are nice but they are still lacking in functionality.

eReader. First up is the eReader app for the iPhone. DRM on this format is unlocked by a credit card, too. The books rendering on the iPhone is nice but there are no arrow buttons to touch to turn the pages, no highlighting function that I could find and you can only bookmark chapters (unless someone can tell me otherwise). You can also increase font size, change font family and search text but that’s it. Edited to add: if you download a dictionary, it will allow you to look up words that you may come across in the story.

Edited for clarification: the ereader software does support not only the iPhone but Palm OS, Pocket PC (2002 or later) and so on and so forth. I clearly need to proofread my writing before submitting. Sorry if this caused confusion. What I was wanting to say and did so – very badly – was that I don’t think that I would like to commit to this format because it is very limiting and DRM on it is not very user friendly. The downloading of these ebooks are fairly easy once you have access to your library. Just input your Login ID and password for your account – I have Fictionwise – and you have immediate access to your library. You can scroll through your books and download them to your iPhone individually.

Bookshelf. This was the first ebook reader for the iPhone and now it is a paid book app (9.99). It reads multiple formats for plain text (.txt), .html with images, FictionBook2 with images (.fb2), Palmdoc (Aportis), Plucker with images and non-DRM Mobi files. The shelfserver didn’t work for me out of the box. I had to follow the instructions at the website to get it working. Once you’ve launched the shelfserver, you should be able to add a directory by browsing through the files on your computer. When I launched the shelfserver I received a warning that it didn’t complete so I had to uninstall Bonjour (which is used as a discovery device) and re-install it from iTunes and launch the shelfserver again. This time it worked.

Once rendered, it really isn’t all that impressive BUT the fact that you can read almost your entire library on your iPhone is enough for me. Hopefully more features are coming soon like scrolling as I didn’t see a scroll button and if you’re able to increase or decrease the font, as yet I haven’t had that work and you are able to change the background and change font family and bookmark. Jane should have a more in-depth review coming for these apps and hopefully more stuff to share on her new 3G iPhone. As for me, I like my original iPhone better actually. I saw and held the new one – it feels feather light and uh plastic. Edited to add: you can increase the font by selecting a numeric value with the accompanying font family. I really miss that scroll button and I still haven’t figured out how to bookmark yet.

But you know, once the iPhone apps really get going, we should see some good stuff come the Fall. Hopefully, there will be more book apps or updates to make the iPhone the one phone to use for everything. Eventually, the day will come when most ebook readers will be saying, Kindle what?

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6 Responses to Reader's Corner: The New eBook Reader Apps for the iPhone

  1. Li says:

    I restrained myself from getting an iPhone when they first came out, but I am soooooo tempted by the 3G version. And if I can read my ebooks on it…. I’m running out of excuses NOT to buy it.

  2. Angela James says:

    The only problem with getting on board with this ereader app is that you’re locked into the one format that you can’t read on any other device unless you already own a eBookwise ebook reader, which I don’t.</i<

    I thought the ereader format used .pdb format for the reader (Palm format) while Ebookwise uses .imp, so the two are actually mutually exclusive of one another. You can read the ereader format on anything that accepts the .pdb format but it’s still quite limited and that’s frustrating to me as well.

  3. Angela James says:

    Whoops. Mucked up the formatting on that comment.

  4. Keishon says:

    I’m at work now- I didn’t correct that in my article before I left but I will when I get home but you’re right Angie. It’s still limiting format (.pdb) format. I’m still learning all this stuff and all these various formats is annoying.

  5. Interesting review of available apps. Have you given the Stanza app a try?

  6. Avid Reader says:

    Words Are Good – no, I’m downloading it now. Will get back with you on that, thanks for the heads up!
    Edited to add: I have Windows Vista and Stanza does not support it as of yet and what a shame. This looks to be an interesting book reader.

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