Reading an ebook is a real joy through this app


Our rating: 

License: Free (Open source)
Review & Alternatives: Best Free eBook Reader for Android

Pros & Cons:

Highly customisable ebook reader with non-nonsense menus that delivers an excellent way to read an ebook.
Would be great to read more formats.

Our Review:

FBReader is a free ebook reader for Android. It also has a mobile version for Blackberry device and desktop versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Bot the Linux and Mac OS X versions are not yet stable as at the moment.

Having just downloaded it on my Android device, and on first impressions I like its straight, no-nonsense look. When you first open the app you are presented with the first book it can see which just so happens to be "About FBReader". This one pager gives you a quick heads-up as to the use and functionality of the app. Plus it gives you a link to access a Network Library that contains a large amount of ebooks either for free or for a fee.

From this screen, by pressing the options button on your device, a menu appears at the bottom of the screen (I am looking at my screen in landscape/horizontally). So, a quick run through the labelled icons.

First is Library. When you tap on Library a list menu appears that reads from top to bottom as follows: Favorites, Recent, By author, By title, By tag and File tree. All these options are, as you see, self-explanatory and when you do click on any of them, any books you have stored on your device or external storage are displayed with both author and title.

File tree, when opened, gives you 3 options to look in: FBReader library, Device and Memory Card. When you click anyone of those three, navigation is very simple and using your device's back button moves you backwards a level. It's a very straightforward and simple way of navigating and the text is displayed bright and clear so you can't lose yourself.

Back at the main menu, the next icon is Network Library. This takes you to another list including a Search option, and various sites to access ebooks. Again nice and easy to navigate. Going back to the main menu, the next icon along is Bookmarks, followed by an icon showing the moon called Night. This is a toggle between night and day. Day shows black text on white, and night shows white text on black. From that is Search which allows you to search your book for words, sentences, etc.

And finally there is More. When you tap the More icon, a menu appears giving you 5 ways forward: Settings, Book info, Zoom in, Zoom out, Navigate. Again all are self-explanatory and easy to navigate. So I will focus only on one which is Settings. There are 11 settings to choose from and each one, when you enter deeper, tells you what it does. Some allow you to 'tick' the setting, some use slider bars to adjust settings. I played with the look and feel of this app through the settings to the point where it looks, feels and behaves exactly how I want it to. And it was a pleasure to play with the settings.

The app supports epub, rtf, fb2 (.zip), mobi, and plain text file formats so you do have some choice. It can also use external TrueType and OpenType fonts, though I haven't yet worked out how to do that. The app also includes integration with several external dictionaries, which may be useful if you get stuck on a word. It doesn't support pdf which is a bit of a pain, or chm either. Maybe in future releases, I can hope.

"So what about reading a book?", I hear you cry. Reading an ebook is a real joy through this app because of the level of options it supports to the look and feel. The ebooks I opened where clear and easy to read including those that contained images. Overall a really excellent ebook reader. There are no adverts and no Star Trek computer voices anywhere!!

Update: Since I wrote the above, I upgraded to version 1.5.5 and now there are a couple of new additions to the More icon in the menu. There is Share book, which brings up a list of social networking links you have on your device and Screen orientation that allows you to set how you want to view the screen and also gives you the option for 'Device orientation sensitive'. That's good.

FBReader was reviewed by on