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4 Android e-reader apps: The latest word in reading

Lee Schlesinger | Feb. 10, 2014
Sometimes even a tablet is too much trouble to tote. These Android smartphone e-reader apps will make it easy to enjoy your favorite book wherever you go.

Like other e-readers, FBReader lets you toggle between a day and a night theme. Within each theme, you can customize the colors of not only regular text and background, but also visited and unvisited hyperlink text, selected text, the backgrounds for selections and search results. You can also set the background to one of three wallpapers: sepia, leather or wood. FBReader has three different page-turning animations.

When a document is open, FBReader can show your reading progress with a vertical slider or progress bar, or it can display a horizontal footer that acts as a status bar, showing a reading progress indicator and (optionally) a page number, clock, battery level and TOC marks. You can tap on the status bar to display a slider control to move around in the book. FBReader also displays an optional "action bar" at the top with icons that let you choose another book or move through the current book's table of contents. You can toggle the action bar off for more viewing area.

If you select a word or phrase, you can copy it to your clipboard, look it up, bookmark it or send it to another application. FBReader lets you find bookmarks in a single document or all documents at one time. The app comes bundled with four dictionaries you can choose from.

FBReader has a limited number of gesture settings. You can set whether to turn pages by a screen tap or flip and/or with the device's volume keys, and whether to use a double-tap to bring up a navigation menu.

At a Glance
Developer: FBReader.Org Ltd.
Formats supported: ePub, Mobi, HTML, DOC/RTF, text, FB2
Pros: Many bundled online catalogs, with multi-catalog search
Cons: Limited font selection, limited gesture customization

I ran into a couple of minor bugs in FBReader. You're supposed to be able to select a book from an external memory card in the file tree, but tapping the icon for the memory card takes you to internal storage instead. And the setting to hide the status bar didn't do so.

Note: Unlike Aldiko and Moon+, FBReader is available outside of the Android ecosystem; it supports Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, BlackBerry 10 and a variety of lesser-known platforms. (Interestingly, though, it does not have an iOS version.)

Bottom line
I liked reading with FBReader. The Droid Serif font (which the other apps also offer) is rendered nicely, and I could set margins, text spacing and CSS options to make my books easy to assimilate. I didn't mind the app's limited gesture support. FBReader is a great e-reader option that just exhibits slightly less finesse than Moon+ Reader.


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