September 1, 2012

How To Read Books on your iPad

Charis Tsevis
Artwork Credit: Charis Tsevis
For the new iPad user, the myriad options for reading books, magazines & newspapers can be daunting: Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Newsstand, Zinio, free ebooks, library ebooks, Project Gutenberg…

Here's a Reading 101 Primer you may find useful in navigating these options.

Apps for reading on the iPad (and the iPhone/iPod Touch) can be categorized based on the type of content, their use of DRM and other attributes:

Book content is copy-protected
e.g. Amazon Kindle

Book content is both copy-protected and time-limited e.g. Overdrive app

Open source
Book content is not copy-protected
e.g. Stanza app

books and newspapers 
Book or Newspaper is presented as a standalone app e.g. Wonders of the Universe app


Magazines are presented as content within an app e.g. Zinio
Magazines are presented as apps but within a container app e.g. Newsstand

Bookstore-related Apps
These apps can be thought of as front-end apps for specific e-bookstores. While these apps can also read some types of non copy-protected content, the content from their bookstore, even the free books, is normally copy-protected and readable only by bookstore-specific apps. This constraint is mitigated somewhat in that each app is available on multiple platforms (e.g iOS, Android...), or as a web app, or on dedicated ebook readers. Still if you buy an ebook from Amazon, in general you won't be able to read it using the iBooks app, and vice-versa.

Kindle app,

iBooks app,

Nook app,
Barnes & Noble

Kobo app,
Indigo Books & Music

Audible app,
Audible, Inc.

Library-related Apps
Most public libraries leverage one of a small number of 3rd-party apps to loan ebooks that are both copy-protected and time-limited. After the borrowing period has expired the ebook files on the library patron's computer become inaccessible.

Open-source related Apps
Open Source related Apps focus on content that is not copy-protected, usually older books whose copyright has expired. These apps may include direct connections to non-DRM book repositories such as the famous Project Gutenberg at

NB: iPhoneiPad ver.

Stanza app
acquired by Amazon  
Bluefire Reader
mixed ratings on iTunes
TIP: Another source of non-DRM books is who sell their new books in a wide variety of non copy-protected formats.

Stand-alone Apps
Books or magazines may be sold as standalone apps. In books this is often driven by a desire to include multimedia elements not (currently) supported by the more common ebook formats. Science books may include video segments. Many children's books are also sold as stand-alone apps and may include audio narration, highlighting of individual words as spoken, music, interactive graphics, and games.

Wonders of the Universe
Guardian Article

Charlie Brown Chrstimas

Globe2Go by


Magazine Apps
Two popular venues for the distribution of e-magazine subscriptions are Zino and NewsstandZinio predates the latter, and provides access to e-magazines in any web browser as well. 

Apple's Newsstand functions as an iOS folder/meta-app. You still buy individual magazine apps (usually free) through the App Store, but if they are Newsstand-aware (most are), they will appear within the Newsstand app. And it's from within each individual magazine app that you buy issues or subscriptions.
TIP: You can also manage/cancel Newsstand subscriptions via:
iOS Settings  → Store  → Click on iTunes accountname → Subscriptions Manage