Great eReader for Android Devices

play booksI’m always interested in exploring new reading software and applications. Developers are improving them all the time.

I have several personal criteria against which I rate the various apps:

1)      Ease of reading books – does the screen look pretty?

2)      Sorting and categorizing – does the program let you sort the books on your device in any way, or do you get an all-inclusive display of covers and titles and have to browse your way through everything?

3)      Up and downloading – how easy or hard is it to take books out of the app and add books into the app?   As I don’t keep every book I own in one single app (I keep them on my hard-drive and upload the ones I want to read next), I need an app that accepts my titles.

4)      Meta data – how good is the program at collecting and showing meta data? Does it display covers you provide? Can it go off and collect data by itself? What details does it keep track of, beyond the author and title?

5)      Synchronizing – Does the program synchronize your books across various devices (phone, tablet, desktop, etc). Does it synchronize with your cloud storage?

Those are the important functions for me. Your own needs may differ.

Here’s the thing though: I’ve yet to find a reading app that provides everything. Some apps are good at a couple of these criteria. Others suck at the same things, but shine with others.

Currently, I’m using Kindle – only because Amazon purchases download to it by default. But I do like the way Kindle synchronizes across every device I own (and I have a few of them). But Kindle has lousy sorting/categorizing that doesn’t synchronize across everything, and getting a book into the program is a genuine pain in the ass.

My default go-to reading app at the moment is FBReader. I really like the way it handles meta-data. I can sort, tweak, and refine my ebook files in Calibre, and every category and tag I’ve added will upload to FBReader, which sorts via the same tags. That’s very useful.

The one disadvantage with FBReader is that it is a one-device app. The books I have on my cellphone won’t synchronize with anything else. Also, FBReader won’t let me use cloud storage for my books. It has to store the books on the same device the program is on, which stops me from psuedo-synchronizing by using a cloud directory.

But for now, the advanced sorting functions of FBReader make it my best bet…for now.

Yesterday, I discovered that Google’s Play Books (which is a default app in every Android device anywhere, and can be installed for free if you don’t have it already) has been recently updated. I tried using the Play Books for about half a day, a year or so ago, and discovered that the only books the app would deign to recognize were those bought at Google’s book store. That was it for me.

Now, the program has been improved immeasureably in two areas:

1)      You can upload your own books! Yay!

2)      Play books keeps everything synchronized across any device you own, because it keeps all the books in the cloud.

Now, because I have such a wildly varying range of books on the go at any one time, including every book I’ve ever written, sorting/searching/categorizing is a big deal for me. Play Books sucks at this. You just get the one screen’s worth of every title currently in the program. Or you can display books you bought from Google, or books you uploaded. That’s it.

So for me, Play Books is not a good choice.

However, if you read across multiple devices, and don’t carry a lot of titles around with you at all times, you might find Google’s synchronizing feature, plus the ability to upload your own titles, perfect for you.

Check it out.

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