Monthly Archives: September 2013

5 best book reading apps for iPhone and iPad

Marvin for iPad featured image

Marvin for iPad

There are a lot more book reading apps for iOS than just iBooks and in this short overview you’ll find my top 5 recommendations.

There is no iBooks in the list and I did it in purpose. Its unique feature is that you can shop iBookstore directly within the app. That is not a result of an outstanding app development, but Apple’s policy (30% cut from any purchase) which prevents competition from adding in-app purchase option.

Most popular book reading apps are tied with particular ebookstores. Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony are designed to let users of these ebookstores access books they bought there and manage their personal bookshelves.

In this overview I’d like to focus more on what app offers rather than what ebookstore does. So, “millions of titles” is not the reason to include the app in the list below. Instead, you’ll learn which app has a feature others don’t, and why it’s good to try it.

5 best book reading apps for iPhone and iPad


Kindle for iPhone iPad

Kindle app is one of most advanced book readers in the iTunes AppStore. You can read not only books, but also newspapers and magazines that you subscribe via Kindle Store.

The app supports enhanced ebooks, the ones described as Kindle with Audio/Video – something you can’t read on your Kindle e-reader.

Kindle for iPhone iPad logoOn of the most convenient features Kindle app gives is the ability to send own ebooks to an email address that is specific to your Kindle app (and different for Kindle apps on each and every of your iOS devices).

To find this email, slide the top bar to the right to reveal Docs section. Right below you’ll see “Send documents to” and the email address.

Every time you send a file with an attachment in mobi format (DRM-free), it will appear in the relevant Kindle app right away, so there is no need to download it from the cloud library.

The way dictionary works is also very specific – and much more useful than in other apps. When you jump to a full definition of the word in the dictionary, you are still able to get the definition of words there. Thanks to that you can further explore word’s meaning, as it’s not a one-step lookup, like in other apps.

Some books from the Kindle Store have a great feature enabled which is called “X-Ray”. It allows to better understand the book’s structure, and helps a lot if you’re lost in a plot. The feature comes together with Book Extras, powered by Shelfari. It’s editable book encyclopedia – a list of most important facts about the book.

⇢ Kindle Free

Google Play Books

Google Play Books for iPhone and iPad screenshots

Kindle app, however, is missing one feature. This feature is offered by Google Play Books and it’s the reason why Google’s app is in this overview. It’s instant translation.

Google Play Books for iPhone and iPad logoIf English is your mother tongue, you may not understand why translation is so important. If you speak another language and still learn English, looking up for the meaning of a word in a dictionary may not bring the immediate association of what this word is in your mother tongue. Translation is a quick help in every case like that.

You can get a translation in just two two taps. Tap on a word or select a passage, and a pop-up window will appear. Tap on Translate and set up language-to-language translation flow (you’ll have to do it only once).

Translation is powered, obviously, by Google Translate. You’d be surprised how accurate it is, not only for words but entire sentences.

I’ve found a workaround to translate words in the Kindle iOS app, using Google lookup as a tool. Anyway, Amazon should include it if they seriously care for international customers. Translation seems to be not a big deal. If eBookMobi app can have it, why not Kindle?

If you need a quick language dictionary lookup, Google Play Books is for now the best option.

⇢ Google Play Books Free


Kobo for iPhone and iPad screenshots

Besides very friendly customization options, Kobo app offers an experience that makes the most of social reading in the digital age.

Kobo’s set of social features is called Reading Life. You can not only read the book, but join a conversation about it at any time.

Kobo for iPhone and iPad logoThere is a Kobo Pulse indicator at the bottom of the page. It get brighter on pages with more comments and reader activity. When you tap on it you’ll see what other readers think about what you’ve just read.

You can also share your own notes and thoughts. Simply, highlight the passage and write down your comment.

By connecting with your friends’ Reading Life on Facebook you’ll know what they read, as well as view and compare their awards and stats.

Awards and stats are two other features that lets read a book in a more dynamic way. Any time you can check out how quickly you read: how many pages per hour or how many hours per book.

There are also several awards to win while you use the app. These awards ”help celebrate fun milestones in your Reading Life”. You can become a Scout Leader or Deep Thinker or Night Rider, depending on how and when you read and use the Reading Life.

If you’re curious about what to expect from social reading, download Kobo app and explore what Reading Life has to offer.

⇢ Kobo Free


Readmill for iPhone and iPad screenshots

The three apps above are devoted to get access to particular ebookstores, but if you prefer independency you should check out Readmill app.

You can start using the app by signing in with your Facebook credentials. The app supports popular file formats, epub and pdf – also the files with Adobe DRM.

Readmill for iPhone and iPad logoReadmill’s Adobe DRM support lets you read with this app books bought in Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Sony Ebookstore. Remember to authorize the iPhone or iPad with your Adobe ID, before you start downloading the files to Readmill.

The app is a clean and simple combination of a book reader, book discovery tool and social reading. You won’t feel overwhelmed with too many features, and can start reading right away after downloading the app.

What’s the strongest side of the app is it’s sleek interface. It’s definitely the most beautiful book app in the iTunes AppStore. In fact, Readmill’s minimalist design had the iOS 7 look long before iOS 7 was announced.

Making ebooks beautiful is very difficult, because the design comes as a result of two factors: how the ebook is formatted, and how the book reader is designed. Readmill does the second job perfectly.

Although Readmill is an independent app, it lets you sync your library via the cloud. You can download books directly to the app on the iOS device: (via email, cloud service app like Dropbox, Safari, or in-app catalog), but you can also add books via website.

⇢ Readmill Free


Marvin for iPad screenshots

Kindle is one of the most advanced book readers for iOS, because the most advanced one is Marvin. The app is available only for the iPad, and that’s because you can only see on a larger screen how much it can offer.

Marvin for iPad logoMarvin app gives you the most advanced personalization panel ever. You’ll not only change the font type and size, but can set up a different one to text and a different one to heading.

You can define your own theme (different for a day and night), but best of all you can also set up your own gestures, for instance swiping to control brightness, or page turn directions, or snapping to bookmarks.

Marvin supports DRM-free epub files only, but it lets add new books right within the app: via built-in browser, Dropbox, or OPDS catalog.

Most importantly, Marvin app lets you analyze the book the way Kindle’s X-Ray does – and you can have it for every book, not only X-Ray enabled.

Marvin intelligently looks up extended information on Wikipedia without leaving the app. You can look up characters or places in the book you’re reading to see biographies, articles, or photos.

The app supports metadata and Calibre book management. The ways you can search your library of books are extensive: by tag, topic, vocabulary and even by number of words.

⇢ Marvin Free

* * *

Ebook Friendly

About Piotr Kowalczyk

Founder of Ebook Friendly. Ebook enthusiast, technology geek, iPhone artist, and self-published author from Poland.


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How to find a hungry agent

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Great post from The Book Deal!
Here’s a literary agent who’s very specific about the kind of book she’d like to see in her inbox:

“I love books with some kind of psychological element, like if the MC has a mental illness or if they can’t trust their mind.”

Working on anything like that? Or something close? Want to know more about this agent? Well you can find her on Twitter. She’s Annie, of the Annie Bomke Literary Agency, tweeting as @Abliterary

Twitter: Start here

Commercial publishers, agents, editors and publicists have for years relied on Twitter as an important element in book marketing. It’s also an essential tool for agents looking for new writers to build their client lists.

Annie Bomke, for example, is included in the Writer’s Digest Oct. 2013 cover story 28 Agents Seeking New Writers. Twenty of those agents are active on Twitter.

Bomke tweets regularly not only about what she’s looking for, but also about how to submit a book to her: “If you’re going to attach your synopsis/sample chapters, make sure you still put your query in the body of the email.” Here she is on the art and craft of writing: “Avoid descriptions that are obvious, like ‘the yellow sun’. The only time you should mention the color of the sun is if it’s not yellow.”

Not bad. Wish I’d said that. She packed a lot into the official Twitter 140 character limit.

More tweeting agents:

Lori Perkins at L. Perkins Agency (@loriperkinsRAB) writes that she’s looking for “time travel novels with female protagonists who change the world (without looking for love).”

Brandi Bowles of Foundry Literary & Media (@brandibowles) reminds authors, “Don’t neglect your platform while searching for an agent. We browse magazines, newspapers, and journals for great writing all the time!”

The biggest little agent-author conversation in the world

In a previous post called Strategic Tweeting for Authors, I described Twitter as a huge, noisy cocktail party, packed with publishing insiders, agents, editors, journalists, book bloggers, reviewers, your readers, potential new readers, other writers – just about everyone you’d ever want to connect with — there and waiting for you to drop in and mingle your heart out.

Now that more agents are using Twitter to build their client lists, it’s gone way beyond marketing to become a treasure trove of useful information for authors about what agents want and how to find them.

Remember that it’s OK to lurk on Twitter. You can search this resource as much as you want without ever posting a tweet yourself if you’re not ready or willing to jump into the fray. That’s some of the advice in a highly recommended primer for the uninitiated: 10 Must-Learn Lessons For Twitter Newbies .

Quick and easy ways to start your search

• Go to Twitter Search and insert #literaryagents in the box See what’s happening right now. You’ll be rewarded with a long list of tweets to and from literary agents. The scroll is in reverse chronological order, often beginning with a tweet only minutes old. The participants offer a bounty of useful chatter and links.

• Or try searching #MSWL, which stands for manuscript wish list, another Twitter address used by agents and publishers to let people know what they’re looking for. For a very useful archive of MSWL tweets organized by agent (and editor) names, go to this Tumbler page.

• Check out Galley Cat’s list Best Literary Agents on Twitter . You’ll find a terrific collection of agents with links to their Twitter feeds, from not only the generation of hungry new faces but also veteran agents like Jason Allen Ashlock, Stephanie Evans, Jennifer Laughran, Meredith Smith, Scott Waxman and Rachelle Gardner.

Twitter etiquette

As in all forms of social networking, certain rules apply.

• Don’t try to submit to an agent via Twitter. It won’t work. Go to the agent’s website or blog and pay close attention to the instructions on query letters, proposals, and sample pages.

• Be service oriented. Your tweets should offer a helpful comment or link to something relevant and useful. Try to be positive, altruistic, and empathic. Keep it upbeat.

• No hard sell. Never come right out with “Read my book” or “Please be my agent.” As per above, follow their rules about sending anything. Refer back to your own website and blog, which of course you’ll have by this time, right?

Be cool

Finding good agent matches on Twitter for your project might take a little time and patience. When you’ve located the agents you’d like to focus on, register on Twitter so you can restrict your own tweets to your targeted audience.

Then follow these agents and everyone relevant they link to. Check out how they want to be approached and be ready with the best possible query letter, proposal, sample pages or, in the case of most debut fiction, the entire manuscript.

And remember, agents are deluged with submissions, so once they reject a project (or ignore the submission) you won’t get a second chance. So be sure your manuscript is in the best possible shape before sending it in.

Some great advice

Listen to agent Rachelle Gardner, who advises writers to work with a professional developmental editor to “Get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them… It’s a terrific learning experience and can help you grow as a writer… almost like having a writing tutor.”

Hear hear.

What about you?

Is Twitter already one of your sources to track down good potential agents for your book? If so, how is that working for you?

If this is a new idea for you, give it a try, and let us know how it goes. We welcome stories of your experience and your tips for fellow authors.


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