Best Ebook Readers for Android Tablets

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Best Ebook Readers for Android Tablets

Painterly Still Life Tablet Ledger
Getty Images By: Jeffrey Coolidge Collection: Stone

Are you now an e-book convert? Traditional books are nice, but they take up a lot of space. Ebooks are simply more convenient and easier to carry. There is a problem with battery life, but that's why they invented charging cables. 

It's worth noting that most eReaders also allow you to read magazines and newspapers from the same app. You can subscribe to your publication of choice and have new issues pushed out to your device. All of them allow you to sync with multiple devices and pick up on the page where you left off. (This only applies to books you purchased from that particular eReader's book store.)

Here's how the major readers ranked. If you've already started a digital library, you'll probably one to stick with the app you started using, although it's possible to transfer most books into another reader with the exception of Amazon Kindle. (In that case, it's possible but difficult.) 

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Kindle App

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Amazon Kindle Logo

The Kindle is the best selling eReader, and the Kindle app for Android tablets will let you read all your Kindle books. The app itself has a few things it could improve for usability, such as adding a two-page layout when you turn your tablet horizontally, but it's still a stable and very usable app. 

Advantages:

Kindle is tied to your Amazon account, which makes it super easy to complete bookstore purchases.  You can also buy books while browsing the Amazon website and have them pushed to your device. There are entire fan sites set up for browsing and finding discount and cheap Kindle eBooks, so you're better able to get bargain content.

Disadvantages:

At this point, Kindle doesn't support the industry standard ePUB format. You can use apps like Calibre to convert your content and sync with your device, but you really shouldn't have to. Although Kindle advertises a lending feature, this feature is rarely available if at all.

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Google Books

Google Books Uploads
Books uploaded to Google Books. Screen Capture

Google Play Books was built into Android tablets, and it's clearly meant to be the Android answer to iBooks. You can purchase books through your Google Play account, and you can download purchased books for offline reading. There's even a handy widget you can use to flip through the books in your library. Ratings in Google Books are tied to Goodreads.

Advantages:

Purchases are quick and easy, and there's no extra account required since you have to have a Google Account in order to use your Android tablet. Google Books has a two-page layout when you hold your table horizontally, and in the case of books that were scanned in from print libraries, you can view the original book pages. Books use standard ePUB and Adobe PDF formats.

You can also upload your separately purchased ePub books into your Google Books library to consolidate. 

Disadvantages:

The main disadvantage is a drawback of all the readers: compatibility with Kindle. Your choice of eReader is going to be driven by the content you already have. 

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Kobo

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Kobo

Kobo is tied to the Kobo online bookstore, and it many ways you can think of it as "the Canadian Kindle." Kobo was originally tied to Borders, but it is now owned by Rakuten. Their portable eReader may not have had the most stellar reviews, but the Android app is actually pretty nice.

Kobo Reader Advantages:

The Kobo app has the easiest method for importing ePUB content you've purchased elsewhere:

  1. Start at the library view and tap the Menu button on the bottom of the screen.
  2. Tap Import Content
  3. Tap Start.
  4. Kobo will search your memory card for ePUB books.
  5. You’ll see a list of all new books that were found.  Use the checkbox next to each book in the list to include or exclude the books from import.
  6. Tap Import Selected.

The Kobo app also has Reading Life, which shows you statistics on the books you're reading, like how much progress you've made and how long you've been reading. You can also unlock badges for reading, but I suppose that's only an advantage if you like that sort of thing.

Kobo Disadvantages:

If you had to take bets on which major eBook seller was going to fail next, Kobo would be on the short list. However, since the books are in ePUB format, you're not taking a risk on purchasing books you can't read with a different reader. 

Kobo doesn't offer a two-page layout when you tilt the screen horizontally. This makes it a bit harder to scan the page.

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Nook

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Nook

The Barnes & Noble Nook tablet uses Android, and their Android app provides a pretty solid experience. In recent years, the Nook has also partnered with Samsung for a Nook/GalaxyTab combination beyond a simple eBook reader. The Nook does show a two-page layout when you turn the screen sideways, and it allows you to sideload ePUB books you check out from your public library or buy from other vendors. It's slightly more difficult, because you have to copy the files to your My Documents folder yourself, but it's still fairly painless.

Advantages:

Two-page layout is a huge plus. You can also turn page-flipping animations off if they slow down your tablet. The Nook allows you to use a lending feature called LendMe to send a book to another user for two weeks. It's much more widely available on Nook than it is for Kindle. 

Disadvantages:

The LendMe feature is only available once per book. Items you've sideloaded aren't visible in the default view. 

Furthermore, Barnes & Noble and the Nook, in general, have been unstable companies in recent years with a difficult transition away from as many brick and mortar stores. Unlike Borders, the company seems to have survived mostly intact, but that doesn't mean that there aren't more challenges on the horizon. 

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