The 7 Best Ebook Apps for Your Smartphone or Tablet

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smartphone ebook
Photo by James Bridle (Flickr/STML)

The joys of reading ebooks are not restricted to those who own Kindles, Nooks, or other ereaders. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you too can enjoy ebooks checked out from the Library or downloaded from a retailer like Amazon or a free-ebook site like Project Gutenberg.

The list below outlines some of the more popular ereading apps, including ones you’ll need if you do plan to check out ebooks from the Kansas City Public Library.

So read on, and be sure to post a comment if you use an app that’s not on the list.

I. Apps that work with the Kansas City Public Library’s ebooks collection.

Want to check out one of our e-books for your mobile device? You’ll need these apps.

Overdrive Media Console
For reading: All ebooks from the Library’s OverDrive collection
Works on: iOS, Android, and other supported devices (list)
OverDrive Media Console (OMC) is the default reader for our ebooks collection and works will all ebooks contained therein. Once you have it installed on your device, launch it and tap “Get Books.” Then find the Kansas City (MO) Public Library. Log in with your Library card and PIN, and download ebooks (and audiobooks) straight to your device. The ebooks will be automatically returned when due. (Watch a video tutorial.)

Kindle App
For reading: Kindle ebooks from the Library’s OverDrive collection
Works on: iOS, Android, Kindle Cloud Reader
Last year, Amazon began allowing Library patrons to download Kindle versions of most of our ebooks. In addition to reading them on your Kindle proper, you can read some – but not all – via the Kindle app on your iPad, Droid tablet, or other device. You must first check them out via our website before you can open them on your app. While browsing, if you find an item in our OverDrive library marked “Kindle devices via USB only,” then that means you can only read that one on your physical Kindle. Confusing? Blame publishers. Still, the Kindle app is a fine reading vehicle, plus the ebook can be accessed via your Kindle Cloud Reader on your computer.

Bonus Tip: Download the KC Library's App to renew your books, place holds, check out ebooks, and more!

II. Free apps for use with your own ebooks

These apps are free to download, but to use them, you may need to purchase ebooks from an affiliated store. A few of these apps will work with free ebooks acquired from sites like Project Gutenberg, ManyBooks, and other sources (see our article “How to Find Free Ebooks for Your Ereader”).

Blio
For reading: ebooks from the Blio store
Works on: iOS, Android, Windows (PC)
One of the main complaints about epublishing is its text-oriented, color-unfriendly nature. Blio aims to change that with a Technicolor app maximized for illustrated, interactive ereading. From cookbooks to crafts, Blio’s store features ebooks you wouldn’t even be able to read on your pixel-poor first-generation Kindle. There is also a non-mobile version for PCs (Windows only).

Bluefire Reader
For reading: ebooks (EPUB, PDF) from anywhere
Works on: iOS, Android
If you download ebooks from multiple sources and need an app in which to read them, Bluefire offers a clean, elegant interface and easy uploading. You can also use the “Get Books” feature to access more than a million free and commercial ebooks from a variety of online bookstores and free sites.

Google Play Books
For reading: ebooks from the Google Play Store
Works on: iOS, Android, PC, Mac, ereaders & many supported devices
An all-in-one media playground for anyone with a free Google account (and preferably an Android device), Google Play lets you access music, magazines, movies and of course, ebooks, from the cloud on multiple devices. The only catch is, unless you’re willing to settle for the modest collection of free books available in the store, you’re going to have to pay.

iBooks
For reading: ebooks from the iBookstore; DRM-free ebooks and PDFs
Works on: iOS
For Apple loyalists only, iBooks is the digital-faux-woodgrain-enhanced gateway to the iTunes bookstore, which admittedly has some nice offerings, from $3.99 ebooks to expansive “multi-touch textbooks.” Savvy users will enjoy being able to upload DRM-free ebooks and PDF files gotten elsewhere (i.e., free).

Audible
For reading: Audiobooks from the Audible store
Works on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry
Amazon’s popular online audiobook retailer has an app that lets shop for 75,000 titles or transfer previously purchased books to your phone via wi-fi. Special features include the ability to win badges, track your listening habits, be alerted to author events, and connect to Facebook and Twitter.

Tell us:
What apps do you use to read on the go?

Comments:

Thanks for sharing this!

Thanks for sharing this!

I realize I'm probably in the

I realize I'm probably in the minority when it comes to this sort of thing, but I've not been too impressed with the whole Kindle software thing -- it just hasn't been easy enough to use compared to other choices. I'm mindful that it more or less can't be left out of a list like this one, of course. :) Thanks for the alternative ideas to try, though!

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