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Five easy to use desktop ebook readers

Jack Wallen reveals his picks for desktop versions of ebook readers - one is bound to suit your needs.

As a writer of both technical documentation and fiction, the ebook reader has become crucial to my success. It's not just the writer that benefits from ebook reader. The IT administrator, engineering staff, and even end users stand to gain from these great tools. But when most people think about ebooks, they think of Kindles, NOOKS, and iPads. What most don't realize is there are desktop versions of ebook readers as well. Where are these ebook readers? You'd be surprised.

I have found five such tools. Let's take a look at each and see if one of them will suit your needs.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Five Apps

1. Calibre

Calibre is probably the finest desktop ebook reader available. Calibre not only allows the reader to read ebooks, it also allows the writer to convert .html documents into beautiful ebooks that can be published through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Calibre features: Ebook reading/conversion, submit ebooks to portable devices (such as Kindle), download news from web sources, and a content server to enable your library to be viewed by other desktops. Calibre is free, open source, and cross platform.

2. Adobe Digital Editions

Adobe Digital Editions not only allows you to manage your ebook collection, but allows you to borrow ebooks from libraries, read in full screen, print ebooks, and add bookmarks to both .PDF and .EPUB ebooks. It includes powerful sorting tools and an outstanding user interface. Adobe Digital Editions is available for Windows and Mac and is free. With version 2.0 you can sign into Adobe Digital Editions with different IDs. With this feature you can access your Google books with your Google ID and then your Barnes & Noble books with your B&N ID.

3. FBReader

FBReader is quite bare bones, but gets the job done. FBReader is available for Linux, Android, Mac, Windows, and Blackberry. To find out what ebook types are supported by FBReader, check out this file type matrix. FBReader offers a plugin system and currently has plugins to support: local area network scan, text to speech, and litres.ru integration. You can use your own fonts with FBReader, but this particular ebook reader does ignore the <i> tag.

4. EPUBReader for Firefox

EPUBReader for Firefox is a plugin for the open source browser that, as the name implies, allows you to read .EPUB files from within the Firefox browser. This plugin is incredibly easy to use. Download the .EPUB file and the plugin will automatically display the file for reading within the browser. If you already have .EPUB files downloaded, simply use the Firefox File | Open menu to open books from your library.

5. Blio

Blio is a feature-rich, ebook reader that not only allows you to read your ebooks, but also to purchase ebooks from the extensive Blio library. Blio is available for Windows, Mac, and Android and features: take notes within your books, full color content, watch videos, and listen to books via speech to text. Blio enjoys a unique interface that doesn't require the use of a browser to search for and purchase books.

Bottom line

The world of ebooks is one that will only continue to open up to users of all types. As an author, seeing ebooks and ebook readers growing exponentially assures me that my course change, some five years ago, was right on the money. It's a great time to be an author, a reader, and a member of the ever-growing world of IT. The ability to read documentation, text books, and more on your desktop is a boon to anyone who needs to read anywhere.

Also read:

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
sassafrass69
sassafrass69

I'm more concerned about how easy it is to *read an e-book* on an e-book reader, but for some reason every review on the internet of every e-book reader is all about how well it converts and sorts files and whether it provides access to an online bookstore.

PeteHol
PeteHol

to eBooks - I do use Calibre and Kindle on a regular basis. The one major flaw in any readers so far used, is the inability to look at several pages simultaneously. I don't mean multi-page view for continuous pages, I mean the ability to skip to and fro from different sections especially in technical manuals where I may have to refer back to a table/image that was several pages back (or forward).

Frank_Boston
Frank_Boston

I believe you meant "bAdobe Digital Editions/b", not "bAdobe Digital Designs/b" in item #2 above.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

most use a cut up variant of xhtml with some proprietary settings and additional code, yet doing the same story in standard basic html will allow readers full adjustment capability of the story text with all the chapter links while making them dammed easier to set the stories up. but customer service seems to be at total odds with the corporate rip the customer off mentality used by senior IT retail managers now.

SKDTech
SKDTech

Besides helping me keep track of my ebook library it has been immensely helpful in converting old or rarely used formats to ones that I can view on my preferred device/reader. BTW, my favorite source for free classics: http://www.gutenberg.org/

k.bertrand
k.bertrand

I personally use it for all my ebooks and have for years. I've been so pleased with it that I've made several donations to support the effort. The updates come regularly and keep the product fresh. Thumbs up in my book! Or is that "... for my ebook!"

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Thank you for mentioning the error - I have fixed it.