Three eReading apps for iPhone: reviews of Kobo, Free Books and eReader

Do you really need to buy a eBook? We looked at the eBook versus iPhone debate earlier, and here we review three e-Reading apps for iPhone.These will also work for iPad of course – when it comes out.

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Cost: free on iTunes, various prices per book
What it does: A multiplatform book store. Buy a copy of a new book on your iPhone, then you can also read it on your computer or your eBook, providing it allows Kobe. A good but not complete selection of books – they don’t have everything (Generation X for example).
USP: Most other books are bound to one platform, this sensibly lets you take it with you. They also have deals on book prices: all NYT bestsellers are $9.99 and one new book each week is free.
Usability: simple and pleasant.
Wow factor: 3/5 yeah, it’s nice. More complete book coverage and guaranteed compatibility with all devices would make this better.
Comment from iTunes: none as yet. Average rating 3 stars.
What to say: “£8.50? I’m not used to paying more than £1.59 for anything on my iPhone.”

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Free Books
Cost: £0.59 on iTunes
What it does: Lets you download any of 23,469 classic books and read them on your iPhone or iPad. Also the option to email it to yourself (or indeed anyone) so you can read it on a computer.
USP: Free books! these classic out-of-copyright books are free, ftw! You’re not going to find the latest Harry Potter but lots of 19th century classics.
Usability: You can adjust font size and screen colours, has been upgraded to make navigation simpler.
Wow factor: 4/5 – free is always wow.
Comments on iTunes: “I used it. I’ve read four books on it so it was worth it. Like finding a library in your basement.”
What to say: “only 2,567 pages of the Three Musketeers to go!”

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Cost: free on iTunes, various prices for books
What it does: Lets you download books from a range of stores – out of copyright ones are free, others cost Stores include the proprietary eReader/Fictionwise store, also (for old ones). There seem to be problems with publisher deals on the eReader store however:
USP: In theory this offers both old books and new ones within one app.
Usability: Design is a bit cheesy and slightly too complicated, there’s also a compulsory log-in for the eReader store which is a pain to tap in.
Wow factor: 2/5 The complicated design and hitches using the book store set this back.
Comment on iTunes: “eReader for iPhone is better than on any other platform I’ve tried. If you have a library of eBooks with eReader/Fictionwise then it’s well worth installing. If you don’t have such a library, then don’t bother with this.”
What to say: “Argh, I’ve forgotten my eReader password again.”

Anna Leach


  • You forgot the BEST eReading app for iphone and ipod touch!! Stanza is AMAZING! They have access to both free and paid books- interface is awesome, very easy to read- and intuitive!

  • You should have reviewed Stanza, recently acquired by Amazon and an excellent e-reader in its own right. You can download from its free repository (thanks to Project Gutenberg) and a variety of online ebook stores. I like how you can send books and documents from your computer in batches to the iPod touch or iPhone

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