Reading in iOS

That is, on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod.

We’ve been reading on iOS since its very early days. My first ereader on my iPhone was, in fact eReader, which read palm (pdb) files. It was a competent little reader but if you didnt have books in that format already, there wasnt, back then, a way to read them. You can’t get it anymore, but if you happen to still own it and have it stored somewhere, it still works. Then came Bookreader and Books, if you had a jailbroken device, through “Installer”, the predecessor to Cydia. “Books” has gone through several iterations since then and is currently in the iTunes store as “Tomes”. Its a good reader if you like scrolling rather than flipping pages. I don’t, now there’s a choice.

I moved very quickly to Stanza on my iPhone2G, and abandoned Books and Bookreader, discovering that Stanza could do so much more than any other reader around. It was flexible, you could mould it to your own preferences and that made it so much more than the other readers which were pretty much set in font, style, margins, day/night and so on. You could also add your own catalogs to Stanza, as well as access those listed as a default. Amazon decided Stanza had to go, bought it, and killed it. I suppose they saw it as competition to their Kindle app… but they could not have been more wrong. It appealed to a completely different market. A market which has not got many alternatives. The last released Stanza, 3.2, still works, more or less, in iOS 6.1.1 but you lose access to some of the settings pages (freezes the app and sometimes the phone itself) which is a pain in the behind. I still use it on my phone.

There have been other incumbents. I’ll list them, but won’t dwell, because they just haven’t made the grade, or haven’t been updated sufficiently well (or at all), to even get close to Stanza in functionality… Bluefire, Megareader, Apabi Reader, Readme, eBooksMobi all seemed to be good replacements at various times, but failed the test of longevity. None were able to replace Stanza for me. In spite of its limited functionality now, it is still a better option for what I want to do.

On the horizon though is a new app called Marvin. An unlikely name for an ebook reader, and had Kris, the dev, not posted on I would probably never have given it a second glance. Its only for iPad right now, but iPhone version is coming. I have it on my iPad and if I am going to read on there, its the current best option. It has all the functionality that Stanza had, and then some.

Its best seen on its own website before you hit iTunes to take a look.

Its intelligent:

When Marvin has read your book, you can:

✔ Look up characters, places and names in your book to see their biographies, articles about them or their photos.
✔ See the first time names appear in your book to remind you who they are.
✔ Find articles about the book and its author. Was the book ever made into a movie, a play or a radio drama?
✔ Pin any review, article, video or website to your book.
✔ Build summaries. Marvin actually creates a new eBook that you can read, annotate and share separately.
✔ Save all your research and share it easily with your friends.

Its flexible:

✔ Warmth and tint in addition to brightness controls to reduce harsh lights especially when reading at night.
✔ 2 column layouts.
✔ Customizable gestures, swiping to control brightness and warmth, page turn directions, snapping to bookmarks and chapters, etc…
✔ Dropbox integration, OPDS catalogs and a built-in web browser.
✔ Text selections across pages.
✔ A reading timer.
✔ Faithful layouts, extensive formatting and customization.
✔ A selection of beautiful reading fonts.
✔ User-defined themes.
✔ A bottom-heavy, specialty font to assist users with dyslexia.
✔ An alternative to a missing table of contents.
✔ Resizing tiny links such as footnotes to make them easier to tap on.
✔ English, Spanish, German and French dictionaries.
✔ Metadata editing, including changing book covers.
✔ Calibre metadata support.
✔ And much more…

In short, its probably the most brilliant ereader to come out for iOS in a very long time. Get it while its still free!


2 thoughts on “Reading in iOS

  1. Cris 27/05/2013 / 11:14 pm

    Though very nice reading app Marvin still has no Calibre support 😦 This is my main reason for loving Stanza – to connect wirelessly to Stanza and pull any book from my library!

  2. kyte 28/05/2013 / 12:49 pm

    I was a bit miffed too, when I thought this was the case… However, in Marvin, you can add OPDS catalogs *and* web addresses. Remember that Calibre has a web server which is activated. I have it in Marvin as but your internal IP may differ. All you need to do is go to the Calibre preferences wizard, find the Server info, enter it into Marvin, and away you go 🙂

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