4 Android e-reader apps: The latest word in reading

These smartphone e-reader apps will make it easy to enjoy your favorite book wherever you go.

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FBReader

FBReader lets you customize your screen display as well as any e-reader, but it's a little light on options for controlling the reading process via gestures.

Unlike the other e-readers listed here, only the Android menu soft key brings up FBReader's settings. Tapping the center of the screen displays a title bar that lets you browse your local and network libraries and the table of contents of the open document. From the library screen you can search for books by recently read, author, title, series or tag -- or browse the file tree.

FBReader
FBReader

FBReader comes bundled with eight online catalogs from which you can download books, and an equal number of disabled ones for books in other languages that you can enable by ticking a box on the Manage Catalogs screen. It's also easy to add additional catalogs of your own, if you wish. You can search for a specific title either within each catalog or within all the defined catalogs at once, but the latter search took about a minute and a half to complete on my device.

For the reading window, FBReader offers only four fonts: one monospace, one serif and two sans serif. You can set separate display styles for regular paragraphs, titles, headers, hyperlinks and other types of text. You can set top, bottom, left and right margins in single-pixel increments.

Like other e-readers, FBReader lets you toggle between a day and a night theme. Within each theme, you can customize the colors of not only regular text and background, but also visited and unvisited hyperlink text, selected text, the backgrounds for selections and search results. You can also set the background to one of three wallpapers: sepia, leather or wood. FBReader has three different page-turning animations.

When a document is open, FBReader can show your reading progress with a vertical slider or progress bar, or it can display a horizontal footer that acts as a status bar, showing a reading progress indicator and (optionally) a page number, clock, battery level and TOC marks. You can tap on the status bar to display a slider control to move around in the book. FBReader also displays an optional "action bar" at the top with icons that let you choose another book or move through the current book's table of contents. You can toggle the action bar off for more viewing area.

If you select a word or phrase, you can copy it to your clipboard, look it up, bookmark it or send it to another application. FBReader lets you find bookmarks in a single document or all documents at one time. The app comes bundled with four dictionaries you can choose from.

FBReader has a limited number of gesture settings. You can set whether to turn pages by a screen tap or flip and/or with the device's volume keys, and whether to use a double-tap to bring up a navigation menu.

I ran into a couple of minor bugs in FBReader. You're supposed to be able to select a book from an external memory card in the file tree, but tapping the icon for the memory card takes you to internal storage instead. And the setting to hide the status bar didn't do so.

Note: Unlike Aldiko and Moon+, FBReader is available outside of the Android ecosystem; it supports Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, BlackBerry 10 and a variety of lesser-known platforms. (Interestingly, though, it does not have an iOS version.)

Bottom line

I liked reading with FBReader. The Droid Serif font (which the other apps also offer) is rendered nicely, and I could set margins, text spacing and CSS options to make my books easy to assimilate. I didn't mind the app's limited gesture support. FBReader is a great e-reader option that just exhibits slightly less finesse than Moon+ Reader.

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