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.

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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 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.

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