Tech: Apps that can help make reading ebooks a breeze
Build your virtual library with apps and sites that let you download eBooks and read on multiple smartdevices
Don’t own an eReader? That should not stop you from digitised reading, although it is always advisable to get an eReader since it is lighter and friendlier to your eyes. Download the app and grow your virtual library. Keep in mind your preferences — whether you need cloud storage, or an app that syncs your devices, or download books to read offline — to help you pick the best app. Here’s a list of apps and sites for reading eBooks. One piece of advice: be prepared to experiment till you find the most suitable one.
Smart devices let us carry the world in our pocket. Once you download the app, Pocket searches articles based on the topics you key in. These articles are not curated by a third party nor are they automated. You can even use the bookmark and save it in your account. This allows you to read it off any other device that has the app. This means that if you start reading the article on your laptop, you can simply hit the Pocket Bookmarklet, and continue reading it on your mobile. Once you have synced all your devices with Pocket app, all the articles are available to read offline. You can also use Pocket to download recipes and videos.
A perfect way to enjoy the benefits of the Kindle store without buying the device itself is the Kindle app. The no-fuss reading experience of a Kindle reader is also extended to its app which can be downloaded onto other devices. The seamless reading experience extends to all the devices. Create an account and start downloading/purchasing books. These books become a part of your personal library which can be accessed from any of your devices. The app is free for download on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7. There are other versions for the PC or Mac, and a browser-based version that works on almost any other platform. You can customise your books and select and highlight text. You can even adjust the brightness of your screen, search for keywords, tap and hold the text for definition or translation of text. With the Kindle app, you can open up a world of over 30 lakh books and audio books.
British Council Library
Though not an app, this web-based library is worth a look. British Council Library recently tied up with various eBooks providers and has made one of the largest repositories of digitised books. For an annual subscription fee of R1,100, you get access to more than one lakh academic books from E-brary, including over 14,000 e-journals from Infotrac, international magazines that look and feel like their print version, and over three lakh works of poetry, plays and fiction. It has a great list of award-winning independent movies, short feature films and documentaries. The online membership allows you access to the physical British Council Library in your town, as well as the eBooks off your connected device. With unlimited checkouts, you can access any number of books or movies at any given time to read and watch at your convenience.
Aldiko converts your regular smartphone or tablet into a reader for free. More importantly, it lets you format the eBook in terms of font type, font size, font colour, background colour, spacing, brightness and margins. It supports major eBook file types, including ePub, PDF and Adobe’s DRM encrypted books. Aldiko works very well for those who do not want to store books on their devices. You can pull your eBooks from anywhere on your Android device or a cloud storage such as Dropbox. This allows you to keep all your books in one place and read them off any device that has an app installed on it.
The Kobo app works on Macs, PCs and smartphones / tablets running on iOS, Android and Blackberry. Just in case your device does not get covered in this list, you can use the web-based version. Even on the small screen of your smartphone, the initial view of the app consists of recently read titles, with icons to view the full library, access to its native social networking platform Reading Life where you can interact with other readers and a link to the Kobo store. You can customise the book display with fonts sizes and typefaces, select from themes like day, night and sepia. The app also lets you mark a section of the text, highlight it and add notes.