Rafael Baxa is an android enthusiast currently working as a web developer. He likes to compare and review apps and websites.
For all the Android users out there who don't have enough dough to spare for a new Kindle Paperwhite, or simply don't want to carry an extra device just for their precious ebooks, the Android ebook reader apps come in handy. But as it is always with smartphones, there are just too many to choose from. So, here is a list of eleven ebook readers, in no particular order, that I found interesting. This might give you an idea of what's out there and what to expect from a book reader app.
The article has been updated with all the latest apps in 2021, because technology moves fast, and that includes Android apps. The ones which failed to keep up with the times have fallen out of the list, and those who rose up are included. Find the one that suits you best and get reading.
ReadEra, which is a comparatively new app, has all the necessary functionalities you might need to read and organize your books and notes in your device, without adding anything unnecessary that might bloat the app.
On the book management front, it allows you to create custom collections, in addition to default collections like ‘Read’, ‘To Read’, and ‘Favourites’. In case, you already manage your collections in folders, you can use the folder view to navigate to your books. There is also an option to edit the meta-data of your books if you wish to clean up your collection.
Book management is just the cherry on the top. A reading is nothing without its reading functionality and format support, where ReadEra fares well. It supports almost all the available book formats. It allows you to change the background colour, font size, spacing, and page flipping direction. It has a set of font styles which you can use, however if you’re willing to pay for the Premium, which is a tad bit more costly when compared to the pro versions of other apps, you’d get to upload your own fonts and use it.
The premium version also includes some other features which might explain the price, such as library grid view, while the free version limits you to list view. There is also quote and notes management. In the free version, you can quote, bookmark, and add notes to a book, but you only get to view those you have added to one book at a time. On the other hand, the premium version has a separate section for all your quotes, notes, and bookmarks.
But it’s worth noting that in an era of online sync, ReadEra has decided to stick to the old-school Backup & Restore option. This is useful in case you choose to replace your device, but if you own multiple devices, you won’t be able to sync your reading status, and collections between the devices in real-time.
Download ReadEra from Google Play Store
2. Lithium: EPUB Reader
Lithium, a very basic reader, may seem limiting in many aspects when compared to others in the list, but I would like to add it here because it’s light, simple, and ad-free. As the name suggests, the app supports only EPUB formats. While this may not be a problem for those who keep their collection solely in that format, it may be a deal-breaker for those who don’t.
The library view which is in material design has a simple list view or grid view which fits books in two columns in a phone. There are no default collections, but it allows you to create custom collections called ‘Categories’.
The book reading experience isn’t perfect, but that is to be expected from such a lightweight reader. You get to choose the background, the page flow direction, the text size, and spacing, but not the font style, which might be necessary for some. The reader loads a bit when moving in between chapters, and the scroll view isn’t as smooth as one might expect, which is quite disappointing.
You have the options to highlight and create bookmarks, so you will be able to use it to mark the pages where you’d like to come back to later for a reread. But the highlights and bookmarks of the book can only be seen after opening the book. This may disappoint those who would like to have a collection of their quotes to view whenever they want at a single place. The app has an option to create local backups for meta-data, but the option to sync online, which uses Google Drive, is only available for paid users. The app has potential, but is lacking some features that are easily available in other apps, but still it has a lot to offer for an app of its size.
Download Lithium from Google Play Store
Librera is an app that has all the features that you’d ever want in an e-reader. The app is available for free with ads, but you can upgrade to the Pro version to remove those. If there was ever an app which has all the features and the perfect UI, then we wouldn’t even have this list to compare the features. So in case of Librera, you’d have to compromise with the look and feel of the app. The app looks plain and the design looks a bit dated, but don’t let that turn you off, the abundance of features really makes up for it.
The book library in the app has two types of grid and list views, and the option to filter by genres, series, languages, tags etc. Other than this you have the option to favourite your book if you want to view them in a separate tab. You can create your own collection using tags, or use the folder view, if you prefer to organize your books out of the app. There is also something called Playlists in the app. You might wonder what something like this is doing in a book reader, but a playlist is simply a custom collection, but better suited for a musician who might want to play something one after another.
The reader has the option to modify the text in all possible ways. You can space and align the text as you want, change the font size and style, download additional styles if the existing ones don’t feel enough. You can change the direction of text from left to right or reverse. This is something that is not seen in many readers, but might be necessary if you’re reading in a language where the flow of reading goes from right to left, for example manga.
While reading you have the option of choosing book mode, scroll mode, or musician’s mode. The last one is something that isn’t seen commonly in other readers. Musician’s mode is just autoscroll which is designed for musicians, similar to Playlists. It feels like the reader was created with musicians’ needs in mind.
Another thing not seen in other apps is the option to create profiles. This could be useful if you intend to share your device with someone else, or if you simply want to separate your two different reading personas. Each profile will have its own set of collections, favourites, and reading progress.
The final hurdle is sync, which is available as expected. It uses Google Drive to sync your reading progress. The app also includes a tab called ‘network’ where you might find all the online catalogs to download the books you want. Librera doesn’t block any of its features behind a paywall allowing you to access everything the app has to offer for free, but with ads. Once you are convinced, you can upgrade to pro to get rid of the ads and support the developers.
Download Librera from Google Play Store
eBoox is a book reader with a beautiful and smooth UI. The purple colour and the bubbly design sets it apart from all the others in the list. The app has a nice list view, with the book you’re reading being shown at the top along with the progress you’ve made.
It allows you to create custom collections, called ‘Shelf’, and also has a default collection called ‘Finished’ where all your completed books go. Another unique feature in this app is creating collections linked to a folder. If you already have your books organized in folders, you can just link those folders as collections to view them along with other collections.
Now comes the actual book reading experience, which is smooth and great overall. I’m actually surprised that it had escaped my notice till now despite being in the store for a couple of years. It allows you to align the text, change font size and style. There’s several different page flipping animations to choose from, along with different background colours. You can also create bookmarks and highlight text in different colours, and view them from inside the book.
The sync, as many others in the list, depends on Google Drive. You can sync your progress, bookmarks, highlights, and also your books, which is new compared to others in the list, but you have to remember that there is no separate cloud storage, everything goes to your own Google Drive.
The app supports over 15 formats, so it’s safe to say that it’d handle anything you throw at it. Moreover, it’s free to use with no ads. If you haven’t already, I’d say you should try this at least once.
Download eBoox from Google Play Store
5. eReader Prestigio
This app has been around for a while now, and though it seems as if it hasn’t been updated much, it gives a fine book reading experience. The app includes an in-app store so that you can buy the books and get started from the app itself, but you’d have to create an account for that.
The app has a lot of options to customize your reading experience. You can modify the text alignment, font size and styles, animations, and colours. You can even change the background of the bookshelf view. It has options to highlight text and create bookmarks, and view them from within the book.
There is an option to create a custom collection, but before you start creating it, you should note that each time you create a new collection, the app creates a new folder and puts the book inside it. Even the first time you import your books to the app, the app creates a new folder (By default it is called ‘Books’) and puts your entire collection in it, which could be frustrating for those who already have their books in an organized folder system and would not want the app to mess with it. Anyone innocently trying out the app for the first time could end up with a messed up collection because of this. That’s what happened to me.
You can connect your Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive, if you want to import books from the cloud, but I can’t guarantee that it will work since I tried to connect my Google Drive and it failed to detect the books in my account.
Overall, the app gives a good reading experience, but the book management is questionable.
Download eReader Prestigio from Google Play Store
Aldiko was the first app I used when I started reading digitally. The app, along with Moon+ Reader, was well-known at the time. But this was a decade ago. The app, which has now been split as a regular and a classic version, can no longer be considered on par with other readers. The one I am reviewing is the regular version, which sports a new UI and is regularly updated. The classic version has not been updated since 2018, which is quite disappointing since it seemed to have more features compared to the new one.
The new Aldiko has a plain grid view, compared to the bookshelf view of the classic version. The app allows you to import one book at a time, which makes importing your entire library a big task. The app has some automatically created collections called ‘Categories’ and also includes the option to create new custom collections.
The reading experience is comparatively tame. The number of customizations is very limited. Things like page flipping animations do not exist here. The interface of the reader is clean with the option to add bookmarks. The app offers very little modifications which can be seen from the lack of options in the settings screen. What’s surprising is that the app doesn’t offer you to scroll to any page easily, you’d have to flip your way through one page at a time.
The app provides a tight integration with FeedBooks, so you can easily get a book there and import it into your Aldiko library. The app had a lot of potential, but all seems to be lost with this new version, and unless the developers add the options that were available in the classic version and some more, this once legendary app will drop from all the reader apps list.
Download Aldiko from Google Play Store
BookFusion is more than just your regular book reader, it’s a library. If you’re going to use it as a plain book reader, then you’d be buying the Happy Meal to get the toy inside. The app allows you to upload your own books to the cloud to form your own personal library, or join libraries created by other users, or organizations. This allows you to not only read the books you own, but borrow from the library you have joined, and makes your notes and highlights available for other members of the library. You can even join up with a couple of friends to create your own library and share your books amongst yourselves. This gives you the experience of having a book club where you might open a borrowed book to come across a highlight or note written by your friend, giving it a personal touch. But if you prefer, you can even purchase the book from the in-app store. Once purchased or borrowed, you can even send the book to Kindle from the app. But of course, that’s not what you would want when looking for an ebook reader for Android.
BookFusion is a subscription based service, so the more use you want out of it, the more you would have to pay. But if all you want is a simple reader for personal use, then BookFusion has that too. Signing up is mandatory as most of the app’s features depend on it. To read a book, you’d have to upload it first. Once you do that, you can access it from any device. This might seem like a bit of a work if all you wanted to do was to read the books on your device. It syncs your book, bookmarks, notes, and reading progress. You can create custom collections called bookshelves and add the books in your cloud to it. The reader has plenty of customizations to change the font, text alignment and flow, and the background. You can create notes and comments to view them later on or share with others.
Compared to others, this app gives you the experience of being part of a book club.
Download BookFusion from Google Play Store
8. Amazon Kindle
If you owned a Kindle or if you own one and are looking for an alternate device, what’s better than the actual Kindle reader app? Though the reading customizations are comparatively limited, the service allows you to buy Kindle versions of books from the Amazon store and get it delivered on all devices your account is connected to. In addition to this, you can even upload your own books and read them on all devices. The app synchronizes your reading positions, highlights and notes using its WhisperSync technology. It provides an inbuilt dictionary similar to the Kindle device. An additional feature of the Kindle reader is ‘Popular highlights’. If you’re going to be buying a book from Kindle, you may see the option to view lines that are frequently highlighted by other people who have read the book. It makes it easier for you to get the gist of the book, or to understand which parts stood out to others.
But as it is with all others, there are downsides. Kindle only supports MOBI format. So if you’d like to upload your books and read them on your Kindle app, you’d have to convert them to MOBI first. This won’t be a problem if you are already a Kindle user with your collection solely in that format.
Download Amazon Kindle from Google Play Store
9. Google Play Books
Google Play Books is another book reader with a cloud book management service. It’s almost like a Kindle app, but by Google. It means that you can upload your books in it and access them on any device. There is also the option to buy books from the Books section of the Play Store, where they are available at very reasonable prices. You can bookmark, search, use the inbuilt dictionary, search the web, highlight text, add notes and sync your reading position across your devices. All you’d need is a Google account.
The reading experience is also pretty good. The page transitions are smooth. The app provides as much page, font, theme customizations as one would need to read comfortably. There is night light mode for the entire app in addition to dark theme, if you’d be reading at night.
There aren’t many options on the collections front. You get the option to view each series separately, filter by the reading or download status, but that’s about it.
Download Google Play Books from Google Play Store
10. Kobo Books
Google has its Play Books and Amazon has its Kindle. Now comes the company that is known as the Amazon of Japan, Rakuten, and their reader which was once a separate brand in its own right. Kobo also provides a similar experience to the other two mentioned. There is an inbuilt shop to purchase books, a section to manage your existing books and a reader that provides a comfortable reading experience.
You need an account to use the app. Though this app is similar to the other two, it has much more to offer when it comes to managing local books. The app allows you to manage your books locally. So you can simply import the books in your devices without uploading them, and create custom collections. This makes it easier to use it as just a book reader app. This is quite different from the vibe it gives off at first, which is that of a book store with shopping carts, coupons, and wishlists.
The reader has a limited set of text flow, font, and page transition customizations, along with highlights and bookmarks. Though not very flashy, Kobo Reader tries to be the jack of all trades, and though it provides a good experience, it ends up not appealing to either of the group of users.
Download Kobo Books from Google Play Books
11. Moon+ Reader
I mentioned Moon+ Reader when I mentioned its decade old rival, Aldiko. Though Aldiko fell from grace, Moon+ Reader stood its ground and also has been my go-to app for reading books for a long time, and the reason for that is simple - it has an abundance of features in both book management and book reader front.
The app displays your books in a shelf view. You can create custom collections by adding them as ‘favourite’ along with a name for the collection. There is also an option to filter the books based on its reading status or series. There is also a net library which includes Project Gutenberg and FeedBooks. This allows you to download the free books available in those sites from within the app and start reading.
The reader has a lot of customizations. You would be able to customize the font style, its size, the text alignment and flow, the backgrounds, and the flipping animation. There are even options to modify how you want to control the page flip. You can set it to flip by touching different parts of the screen, pressing the buttons, tilting the phone, or just set it to autoscroll. You can also set different functions to different gestures or touches.
There is also the option to backup your books metadata and sync your reading positions using Google Drive or Dropbox. In addition to this, you can even view your reading stats which includes how much books you have, how much of it you've read, and how much time you've spent reading.
The app supports a lot of formats and is free with ads. There is also a premium version which is definitely costly compared to others, which provides ad-free experience and also adds in more themes, pdf annotations, and password protection features. The app has been tried and tested, and has been around for a long time, so if you haven't already, you might want to check it out before you decide to stick to one.
Download Moon+ Reader from Google Play Store
12. PocketBook Reader
I was going to end my list at 11, but I just came across this app and I just couldn’t leave it out. This is the only app I found that connects to Google Play Books on top of connecting with other cloud sites like Google Drive and DropBox. It also has its own cloud storage where you can store your libraries and sync your reading progress, bookmarks, and notes. Aside from this, there is also an in-built bookstore.
The app supports almost all the ebook formats, including comic books formats, and pdf. It provides default collections in the form of reading, to read, and read books, and also allows you to create custom bookshelves.
All this is well and good. I went in with high hopes for the reader and I was not disappointed at all. The book reader has a lot of customizations. It allows you to change the font size and style, change text flow, backgrounds, and animations. This alone makes it one of the top competitors. What’s more is the customized notes. You can add icons, create highlights, take screenshots, and doodle over the pages. This is quite an uncommon feature which I have taken a liking to. The app supports other devices including e-ink devices which makes it easier to take your libraries and notes with you, in case you ever decide to switch devices.
Download PocketBook Reader from Google Play Store
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2016 Rafael Baxa
Ivan on March 21, 2017:
I don't see one of the best application Lirbi Reader! it's more then 10 000 000 downloads, maybe the best book reader for most books formats.