Best Free Electronic Book Reader

 
Introduction

There is a very thin line between an eBook-reader and a PDF-reader. While the PDF-reader just needs to read PDFs, an eBook-reader is expected to optimize the process of reading an eBook on your computer.

Desired characteristics are the ability to:

  • Read various formats including PDF, HTML, TXT and other formats
  • Organize books into categories for easy reference and to create favorite lists
  • Annotate, highlight and bookmark pages.

Choosing one best reader among the multitude available is both a tough task and also an insensible one. Once upon a time, the humble .txt format used to be the only form of data. Today, there are nearly unlimited formats. While in an ideal world one would prefer all of this data to be in an open format, the same cannot be expected in the real world. Our books are tied down in either .pdf or .lit or .pdb. So, one has to exercise discretion in selecting the best reader.

Among the various software discussed here, most aim to only present your book in an almost paperback-like format. Only a few try to organize them and add value to the same. Since the main purpose is to read books and not just text, preference is given to those that add value rather than just display your book in a fancy format.

 
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Discussion

Mobipocket Reader DesktopMobipocket Reader Desktop is a fully-featured reading solution. It has an intuitive interface, annotations and even a dictionary search when configured properly.

The reader includes an auto-column layout for an optimal reading experience, with options for page size, full width display, 2 or 3 column display with customizable font types, sizes and background colors.

It supports .lit,.html,.txt and .pdf files. Mobipocket also claims to sync with all your mobile devices such as a smartphone, Blackberry or PDA.

The main disadvantage is that it stores all of your books in a proprietary .prc version. What this means is that for every book you read, you need to import it into Mobipocket.

 

CalibreCalibre is open source eBook library management application. Calibre supports extensive file conversions, with the ability to convert over thirteen document formats into EPUB, PDF and MOBI formats for use on popular eBook-readers like the SONY PRS 500/505/700, Cybook Gen 3, Amazon Kindle (1 and 2) and the iPhone (with the stanza reader software).

You can also set up Calibre to fetch news from websites and RSS feeds and convert it into a compatible format, so you can load up your eBook-reader with information from your favorite sites. There's even a built-in web server so you can access your eBook collection remotely. It even has a cover-flow browsing feature for your books. However, it tries to sort all your books in its own preferred folder structure, so if you're a person who uses your own folder-hierarchy use this carefully.

 

Reader LibraryReader Library is from Sony and can open .pdf files.

With this application, you can shop eBook titles including New York Times Bestsellers, search inside your collection of eBooks and can even borrow books from your library but a library card is required. It too offers a two-page layout.

While it has all the polish and gloss of a Sony product it lacks some key features like a full screen interface.

 

Other eBook Reader Suggestions:

Tom's eTextReader reads rtf, html and txt files. Useful features are opening files directly from zip archives and a downloading tool for Project Gutenberg files. But the entire software is a little bit outdated. It lacks support for some commonly used formats. You can check this out at http://www.fellnersoft.at/eTR.htm.

yBook, is a beautiful piece of software whose main aim is to provide a 'paper book' experience on the computer screen. It even allows you to choose what color your pages are and provides a default two-page layout (which can be changed). It opens .txt, .pdb, .rtf and .htm files. This also has a Project Gutenberg downloader. If you want a simple reader that gives you a book like relaxed read then this is it. You can check this out at http://www.spacejock.com/yBook.html.

 

To be reviewed:

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Mobipocket Reader Desktop
4.5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Intuitive, annotate, customize, dictionary search
Converts all books into proprietary version of .prc files
6.2
5.7 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Windows XP and higher
Calibre
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Complete solution, open-source
Physically manipulates your files
http://calibre-ebook.com/
0.9.32
49.4 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/ Vista/ 7 and 8, Mac OS, Linux
Reader Library
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Beautiful interface, organized
No full screen reading
http://ebookstore.sony.com/
3.3
42.1 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
Windows XP (32-bit only)/ Vista (32-bit and 64-bit)/ 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)/ 8 (32-bit and 64-bit)/ iPhone/ iPad/ Mac/ Android and Tablet

 

Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Jojo Yee. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

 
Tags

ebooks, reader, comparison, best free e-book reader, top free ebook reader

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Comments

by Dragonscribe on 9. February 2014 - 20:41  (114357)

I'm not sure that Mobibook is still free. All the points on their website that looke like amy kind of download return a message that the resource has been removed.

by lvoin on 3. April 2014 - 20:57  (115473)

Is available and working here:

http://www.softpedia.com/get/Others/E-Book/Mobipocket-Reader.shtml

[Moderator's note: Link to direct download of file not allowed. Replaced with the link to the software page]

by mr6n8 on 9. February 2014 - 21:22  (114358)

If you are referring to MobiPocket, it is no longer available in any form.

This was brought up here in the comments in 2012 (further down the page):

"...MobiPocket was killed by Amazon in late 2011/early 2012.
http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/11/02/rip-mobipocket-2000-2011/ "

There was no editor for this page at that time and apparently there has not been one since.

by sicknero on 9. February 2014 - 21:38  (114359)

The final version (6.2) is available on various freeware sites, e.g. Softpedia, CNet, etc if you look around.

It's a very nice reader, it was my favourite for a long time. I only stopped using it because of problems making it portable (it requires Java Runtime installed) and because Calibre changed to offer a double-page "proper book" style of layout.

by mr6n8 on 9. February 2014 - 22:37  (114363)

Ah that makes sense (the last version still being around). Just not available at the "official" site.

Personally, I use Calibre and Sumatra.

There is a portable Java available at PortableApps.

I used to create a portable Java for Vuze, but have not done so in quite some time. My memory is that it was not that difficult.

by sicknero on 9. February 2014 - 22:50  (114364)

I've had some luck with making Java-dependent software portable but I never got around to putting much effort into Mobipocket.

It was the lack of a double-page layout really that put me off Calibre before and it now has that and a whole lot more : ) It really is very good.

by innn on 30. July 2013 - 17:04  (109771)

For anyone interested sumatrapdf viewer can handle .mobi files as well. I am satisfied.

by Epsilon on 14. June 2013 - 10:53  (108525)

Just took a look at yBook. It's now at version 2 and can handle ePub.

http://www.spacejock.com/yBook.html

Here is a list of current features:

Runs on any Windows PC (Win95 or later)
Display your book on side-by-side or single pages.
Resize the pages, adjust the margins, set text and paper colour.
Text, html and RTF reader
PDB and PRC reader
ePub reader
Search for words or phrases
Automatic bookmarks
Text sizes from tiny to HUGE
No zooming, panning or scrolling
Direct download of all Gutenberg titles, with index.
Internationalised menus - Spanish, German, etc
Completely free to use: No registration, no adware, no spyware.

by Anupam on 14. June 2013 - 11:35  (108527)

It's a kind request. Whenever you suggest a software, please post a link to its site. I have inserted the link this time in the comment.

Also, if you notice, yBook has been suggested just a comment below.

by Himagain on 12. April 2013 - 6:55  (107004)

A bit late but........ Not only is this the best allround software of its type I've found, but:
1. It's free!
2. Very Well-written
3. The author's Site (He writes SF and programs) has extra goodies there.
http://www.spacejock.com/yBook.html
A great place for aspiring Authors, too.

by paulrw on 12. April 2013 - 10:29  (107016)

Thanks Himagain, it certainly looks interesting. I will review it shortly.

by mariola on 13. January 2013 - 12:22  (104246)

Recently I have spent several days playing with different readers (for W7) and my recommendation would be like this:
- Universal all-in-one solution (for most formats): Calibre (Portable)
- "Single" format solutions: Adobe Digital Editions or Foxit Reader Classmate Edition for epub / Mobipocket Reader for mobi
- Lightweight and highly customizable (thus elegant) epub solution: EPUBReader for Firefox

by lordamit on 1. January 2013 - 20:20  (104153)

Hi,
Calibre 64 bit version is also available now. I am currently downloading it.
http://calibre-ebook.com/download_windows64

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