One of the things Apple is touting in its commercials is how the iPad can carry more books than you could ever read.  While they are obviously referring to their own iBooks application, there are a ton of ways to read books and comics on the device.  How do you know which one to choose?  Once you pick one, you’re locked into their format so if you want to change devices you are making a pretty lengthy commitment.  So we’re going to compare four e-readers currently on the iPad to help you pick the one that is right for you.

(All app title links take you to the iTunes App Store page; all sample pages use the first page of Bram Stroker’s Dracula.)

classics to go

23,469 Classics To Go

The Classics to Go app is not a traditional e-reader due to the fact that it offers only what the name implies, classics.  If it’s a book published before 1929, it is in the public domain and that means it is part of the Project Gutenberg book collection.  While you can’t buy the latest and greatest books, you can certainly keep yourself entertained for ages with all of these classic pieces of literature.

The app has some drawbacks such as an easy ability to flip back just one page.  You can use the slider to jump backwards, but it is pretty easy to overshoot your desired page.  This is the only of the four apps here that doesn’t have a white background to the page as the default, and it does help to ease the reading somewhat.

You can see a screenshot of the app here.

kindle icon

Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle app gives you access to a huge selection of books, both paid and free, and also gives you the ability to read on multiple devices. Thanks to their Whispersync technology, you can read the same book on a Kindle, iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad or other device, and you can pick up where you left off in the book on another device.

You do get a good selection of options to your reading in this app.  You can change the background of the page from the default white to either black or sepia, change the font size on the fly, make notes, see what popular highlights others have made in the book and so on.  It’s a pretty easy read, and shopping for new books is pretty descent with you just being taken to the familiar Amazon store.

You can see a screenshot of the app here.


Apple iBooks

For some odd reason that even though this app is built by Apple, it doesn’t come pre-installed on the iPad. It is no big hassle to go to the App Store and download it, but it is still a tad odd.

The app features changeable fonts , adjustable font size and search the book for any words you desire.  Of course one of the niftiest things about the app is the page turning animation, although after you’ve played with it for about 20 seconds it loses its luster.

The nicest thing is that the app does use the open source ePub format so you can bring books in from other sources once they are converted into the style.

You can see a screenshot of the app here.

kobo icon


The Kobo app is from the same people behind the upcoming Kobo e-reader from Borders.  Like iBooks, it also uses the ePub open source format so you can easily import books from other sources into it.  Presumably you will also be able to move books back and forth from the iPad to the Kobo reader once it’s released.

You can change fonts with this app, browse a pretty extensive store, change page turning animations and more.  I did find the store probably the most difficult to browse, but not horribly so.

You can see a screenshot of the app here.

Which E-Reader App Should You Choose?

It’s really difficult to pick just one of these apps out because each person’s needs are going to be different, but if I had to go with just one, for now I would say iBooks with the Kindle being a very close second.  The Kobo just didn’t impress me, and the Classics To Go is very specifically targeted, but I think quite useful.

The nice thing is all the apps are free and have a selection of free books for you to try out so you can easily see which best suits your needs.

What say you?  Which e-reader on the iPad is your favorite and why?

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