My iOS App Picks for 2014 – eBook Readers

It’s that time of year again — the year is ending, coming to a close. And we often take time to look back at things we’ve done. In my case, I thought I’d look back at the iOS apps that have most engaged me over the last year.

I’ll basically select a ‘winner’ and a ‘runner up’, and give a few reasons why the app captured my attention and interest.

So, without further preamble, here’s my first category and selections:

eBook reader


Marvin is new to me this year and it’s an excellent example of what an eBook reader should be. Previously I’d used Stanza, but it was acquired by Amazon and not updated — and has since been removed from the app store. Marvin is a marvelous replacement.

For Marvin, there’s both a free and paid version – I’d recommend getting the free one to start and see if you need all the excellent features of the paid version.

One of the big features that I look for in any eBook reader is Calibre integration. Calibre is a program that runs on a computer and manages your eBook library. It has a server component, which means that with appropriate eBook readers, you can log into Calibre, browse through your entire eBook library, and download eBooks to your device.

With Marvin, it’s a simple matter to log into the library, select the eBook, then download it over WiFi. No wires, no muss, no fuss.

Marvin’s developer lists the following numerous features:
– A modern and clean user interface, designed for iOS 7
– Format books any way you like
– High fidelity rendering
– Opens DRM-free EPUB books
– A selection of beautiful reading fonts
– Virtually unlimited combinations of text, background colors and page textures
– 2 column layouts in both portrait and landscape (iPad)
– Cloud location sync *
– Publisher layouts and embedded fonts
– Full book search
– Control page warmth and tint in addition to brightness for comfortable night-time reading
– Customizable gestures, swiping to control brightness and warmth, page turn directions, snapping to bookmarks and chapters, etc…
– A reading timer
– Powerful highlighting and annotation tools
– Create custom commands with presets to integrate with Google Maps, Bing Images, Tweetbot, IMDb, Lingvo, Goodreads, Facebook, Wikipedia, the Merriam-Webster dictionary and more

– Artificial intelligence that reads your books and helps you discover great things about them, their authors, characters, places, events and everything else (English only)
– Intelligently search for and pin web content such as articles, reviews and videos
– Build character summaries as separate EPUBs in seconds
– Automatically build a vocabulary as you look up words in the dictionary
– Offline and online dictionaries

– Incredibly powerful library management tools
– Custom and smart collections
– List and cover library views
– Sorting, filtering and grouping
– Group books by word count
– Reads calibre and extended metadata (subjects, series and tags)
– A metadata editor that also lets choose new covers

– Virtually all the content you see, create and find can be exported and shared
– All exported content can be opened in web browsers and word processors for further reference
– Share status, progress, pictures, text selections and highlights to Facebook and Twitter

– Find books anywhere in your Dropbox *
– Native calibre support with integration that other readers can only dream of
– OPDS catalogs
– Web downloads
– iTunes and email side-loading

Runner Up: iBooks

Built into your iOS device, does a servicable job of being an eBook reader but not a feature-rich as the free version of Marvin. Trust me, check it out 😉