With books, magazines and newspapers becoming more obsolete, it’s no wonder we have so many eBook readers and managers on the market now. Many libraries even offer electronic borrowing via an eReading device or an application on your computer.
How long do you think it will be before libraries themselves are obsolete? Only time will tell, but for now now lets enjoy these 15 free eBook readers and managers for your computer or laptop. Feel free to mention any that you think are missing in the comments.
Adobe Digital Editions
(Windows, Mac) Brought to you by Adobe, this application lets you view, manage and organize your eBooks as well as other digital publications. You can also use it to purchase digital content (PDF and ePub files) from within the program. The content that you purchase from Digital Editions can be read online or offline and can also be transferred to other computers or devices (like Sony Reader). You’ll be able to bookmark and annotate pages with comments and highlights as you read along.
There is alsoa support for SWF files that may be embedded in your content. As far as managing and organizing your eBooks, you can create your own custom bookshelves to make your content easier to find. If your library supports digital borrowing, you’ll be able to download those borrowed eBooks right into this application.
(Windows, Mac, Linux) Lucidor is a simple tool for reading, managing and organizing your eBooks within your own personal bookcase. It supports ePub and OPDS catalog files. You can search for eBooks online and download them right into the application. A unique feature Lucidor has is the ability to have multiple eBooks open at one time. It does this via it’s tabbed interface, which is much like a Web browser. Lucidor even supports themes. There is also a search bar for finding specific keywords or phrases within your content.
You may also be interested in Lucifox, which is an extension for Firefox that lets you read and browse eBooks within your browser and you can also create eBooks from RSS feeds.
(Windows, Mac, Linux) This feature rich application refers to itself as, “the one stop solution to all your eBook needs.” There are numerous management options for keeping your eBook library organized. You can search for a particular book, for specific tags or even a specific comment that you leave on your content. Calibre can also go online to find any missing metadata in your books. Many people have issues reading on computer screens, but with Calibre you can rescale the font sizes to fit your vision presence so that it’s easier to read.
If you like to read on the go, you can sync to a large number of reading devices. Calibre is also great for reading the news with its ability to download news and RSS feeds from the Web and convert them into eBooks. If you would prefer to get your news by email, you can set that up as well.
(Windows, Mac) Koobits lets you read, manage and organize your eBooks into beautifully designed shelves. It supports PDF, ePub, XML, HTML, KBJ and even more types of file formats. Its annotation tools are quite unique in that you can highlight, add stamps and use an extraction tool to copy content and paste it into a scrapbook which you can then arrange as you like.
One great incentive for using Koobits is that you will get a free eBook (based on your interests) delivered to your drop box everyday. It also supports animations and multimedia, for eBooks that contain them.
(Windows, Mac) You’re probably already familiar with the Kobo eReader device. Well they also offer a desktop version for browsing, purchasing and reading eBooks on your machine. It supports ePub and PDF formats and will allow you to read online or offline (without a connection). You can sync with your Kobo device or any other device that it supports. When you first download the program, they’ll give you 5 free eBooks. Kobo has an automatic bookmarking feature: whenever you close your book it will pick up right where you left off.
To make reading easier on your computer, you can even customize the font style and size. Lastly, Kobo makes sending eBooks to your friends and family super easy; it can can be done instantly or at a schedule time and day
(Windows, Mac) This is the eBook reader I’m most familiar with because we use it for most of our textbooks at Full Sail University. VitalSource Bookshelves claims to be the “most advanced eBook software in the world.” It lets you access your books from the the desktop application, mobile app (iPhone) or online. You can add highlights and notes to your content and search through them as well as the content of your eBooks.
One of the best features of VitalSource Bookshelf is the ability to share your notes and subscribe to your friends’ notes. The notes and highlights of the friends you subscribe to will then show up right within your book as you’re reading. There are three different layouts to choose from when reading and the auto-update feature will make sure that you always have the latest version of your books.
(Windows, Mac, Linux) eReader Pro “is an award-winning application used to read, manage and organize your eReader.com eBooks on your computer and/or laptop.” You can add bookmarks and search for words in your eBooks with ease. eReader Pro uses a system called “BookShelves” for managing your eBooks and keeping them organized.
With their integrated reference books you can use things like a dictionary (by selecting a word) to look up the meaning. You can also use built-in themes to change the colors of the application and you can also adjust the font types and size to make reading easier on the eyes. You can annotate by adding bookmarks and notes and then share them with others. They even offer a full screen mode for distraction free reading and auto scrolling for effortless reading.
(Windows, Mac) Everyone is familiar with the Kindle eBook reading device from Amazon; their Windows and Mac desktop versions let you do most of the things that you can do on the device. You can adjust the font size and words per line, choose a 1 or 2 column layout, add notes and highlights, and sync between devices that support Kindle. Whenever you close a book, the last page read is automatically saved and can be synced across all your devices as well.
Of course you can also browse, purchase and download thousands of eBooks in the Kindle store. Unfortunately you cannot view newspapers, magazines, blogs and personal documents on the desktop version nor can you use the text-to-speech or dictionary feature.
(Windows, Linux) If you’re looking for something on the simpler side, you may want to try FBReader. Contrary to what the name may imply, it has nothing to do with Facebook. FBReader is an eBook reader that supports numerous file formats like ePub, fb2, plucker, HTML, plain text, doc and more. You can also add multiple books at once in an archived format (tar, zip, gzip, bzip2). It supports embedded images, footnotes, hyperlinks, text search and full screen reading. It also has automatic bookmarking so that you don’t lose your place when closing a book.
(Windows, Mac, Linux) This is a great application that supports not only eBooks, but free daily updated RSS eNews and eDocs; it supports files in the mobi format only. You can also add your own published contents and documents as well. With filtering, instant search and advanced display options, it’s easy and quick to find what you’re looking for. You can also create reading lists, add ratings and edit the metadata for your eBooks.
Mobipocket Reader also lets you add annotations and highlights and you can sync these between your devices. There are quite a few display options for reading: paper back page size, full width, and 2 or 3 columns. “The new version even includes an auto-column layout that will automatically select the column size for optimal readability.” In addition, you can customize your font size and background color, use full screen mode and use auto scroll for easy reading.
(Windows) With Martview’s realistic page flipping you’ll feel as if you’re reading an actual book or magazine. It is compatible with PDF and Mart files and has thousands of free eBooks and magazines (uploaded by Martview users) to choose from. This application was designed with the reader in mind as it provides a “clean layout with sleek design that is easy on the eye, added with crisp images.” It has both a horizontal and vertical slider for different viewing methods and you can zoom in and out of pages as needed. You can also create and publish your own eBooks or magazines via PDF, gif, jpg, png file formats.
(Windows) Never to be outdone, Microsoft of course has their own free eBook reading program for Windows only platforms. Their “patented “ClearType” display technology revolutionizes on-screen reading” and makes it easy on the eyes; additionally, you can also change the font size if needed. Microsoft Reader features electronic bookmarks, a personalized homepage, text search, annotation (notes, highlighting and free-form drawing), zooming in and out and an integrated dictionary for looking up words a you read. They advise you to visit their catalog and shop pages often so that you don’t miss out on any promotions or giveaways.
(Windows, Mac) Reader Library is a product of Sony and one of the great features of Reader Library is the ability to borrow books from your library. You will of course need a library card and you’ll need to make sure that there is a library near you that supports electronic borrowing.
Additionally, you can also browse through thousands of eBooks and New York Times bestsellers. With adjustable text, two-page view, searching and publishing of your own books (to the Reader Store). Sony has also teamed up with Google to “bring you access to over a million public domain books for free.” Another awesome feature of Reader Library is that you can automatically receive newspaper and magazine subscriptions from the Reader Store; this is a great option for those wanting to to go paperless.
(Windows) Nook, a reading device from Barnes & Noble, also has a computer version that is available on Windows and Mac. There are over two million books, magazine and newspapers for you to choose from. There are also thousands of free Nookbooks and you can sample any Nookbook you want for free. It shares most of the features included in the other applications on this list like automatically bookmarking, device syncing, annotation (notes, highlights, bookmarks) and font customizing. Lastly, their “exclusive LendMe technology lets you share with family and friends.”
(Windows) Last, but definitely not least we have Blio which supports XPS and ePub file formats. It has some of the most unique features that you’ll find in an eBook reader. This “free eReading application presents eBooks just like the printed version, in full color and with all the features you’d want from an eReader.” Because of that, your eBooks in Blio will have the same format, fonts and full-color images found in an actual book. It even includes a text-to-speech feature so that you can have your books read aloud to you.
As it reads, the application will highlight each word so that you can follow along. You can also look up words and get more information from Google, Bing and more all within the program. When it comes to annotation, Blio goes above and beyond; you can highlight and also add notes, pictures and web links to the note sections of your books. Its smart “ReadLogic” feature knows exactly when to zoom in and navigate to the next logical place in the book for uninterrupted reading. Like Martview (listed above) it also has realistic page viewing along with multiple reading views (text only, single and dual page, tiled page).
With all of these eBook readers and managers to choose from it’s definitely hard to pick just one. What is your favorite desktop eBook reader?