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eBook reader applications (mobile)

Currently available eBook reader applications tried by users

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Rhodri Thomas
21 September 2009

Please add to the below if you have had personal experience of using eBook reader applications - please indicate the format and mobile platform you've used.

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Adobe Reader, PDFs and OU eTexts - I've had an issue with PDF for a long time in terms of what users can actually do with the documents, and we heard a long time ago now (7yrs I think) that there were extensions that could be 'unlocked'. What I mean in this case is personalising documents including user annotation and highlighting in addition to cross-referencing to dictionaries or thesauri, and readaloud. It turns out that any recent eTexts created by the OU do indeed have these features - if created by LTS (so they're also tagged and accessible) and you use the Adobe Reader desktop application.

So...great improvement, it's just a shame that the mobile app (WindowsMobile) just aren't that great compared with the others (though later versions do allow reflow and resizing of content at least). Other PDF viewers are of course available for other mobile platforms but from what I've seen they are mostly aimed at trying to failthfully preserve layout, content and pagination.

Rhodri Thomas
18:52 on 21 September 2009

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Rhodri Thomas
7:29pm 21 September 2009

At the outset I should say that I've only recently used mobile eReader apps to consume (many) fiction books, though I did create some early eBooks using dedicated authoring apps as part of the DEEP project.

Personally my favourite now is Aldiko on the Android, with Stanza and eReader on my iPod Touch. I'm not totally convinced by the pauses created in the first two when changing section but am very happy with readability otherwise (and I set the text quite small :-))

In creating eBooks and working with a contractor to establish a transformation from structured content to eBook formats, some app features have come to light tho:

Can the app:

  • Use internal hyperlinking to other sections (for activities or 'answers at the back' approach)
  • Use a 'back' button for internal hyperlinks or rely on table of contents (will users remember the jump point?)
  • Provide a thumbnail and then zoom in to images
  • Download other eBooks directly over-the-air into the app

Other considerations that have come forward are to do with popularity of app/format balanced against technical suitability. For example, recently we've needed to reorient towards ePub (open eBook format) more quickly, since the preferred starting point using Mobipocket seemed in question due to a dearth in updates post-Amazon takeover.

Gráinne Conole
3:27pm 22 September 2009

I have stanza on my iphone and love it! I don't find the interface difficult to read from at all.

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