Reading on an Android Tablet

I'm in the middle of writing a review of the Archos 5. Becuase the review was rather long, I decided to post this section by itself. FYI: The Archos 5 is a tablet with a 4.8" screen, running Android 1.6. I will not make the claim that it is typical of Android tablets because there is no such thing. Android was designed to run on phones, not tablets. Also, Android is still in the early stages of development. Each device that uses it will have its own quirks.

BTW, Carly from Gear Diary also posted a good overview of the apps available; you should go read it. My results were different from hers, though.

I only reviews 5 of the 6 covered in her post. I had to skip Shortcovers becuase it wasn't stable (for me, at least).

Format Support

  • Aldiko, Ibis Reader, Word-Player - Epub only
  • FBReader – Epub, FB2, OEB
  • eReader – PDB only

Where to get the Apps

Ibis Reader

Carly wasn't too impressed with this app. I'm not either. The non-mobile version lacked one of my minimum requirements: pagination. I don't want to scroll; I want to turn the page. There are better options available.

Ibis Reader also has a mobile version, only it's not very mobile. You see, the Ibis Reader developers decided that it's not worth the bother of supporting all (or even most) mobile devices. Instead, they decided to build Ibis Mobile on HTML5, which is only supported by the iPhone and Android phones. My Archos 5 does not support HTML5. In fact, none of my mobile devices have that support.


This rated low on Carly's list, but is high on mine. It has a good amount of customization available (margins, line spacing, font size, etc), and it has a good set of reading abilities (annotation, dictionary, notes, Google Search). It only reads eReader PDB, though, and the library menu is not designed to handle huge collections.

The reason I like this app (besides the fact it's the only one with DRM support) is that it has a direct connection with Fictionwise and eReader. I have a huge library at Fictionwise, and I can download all the ebooks from inside the eReader app. Also, if you have an account at, you can upload PDB ebooks and again access them through the eReader app.


I originally had high hopes for this app because it supported network access (over Wifi) to the calibre library on my laptop. At first glance it looks like its a decent reader, but it has at least one flaw that moves it firmly into my “skip” column. It doesn't wake well from sleep mode. It takes a while to remember where it was in the ebook, and how the ebook was formatted. There are better options available.


I love FBReader, and I wish I could recommend this app. But it's not very good. Development for this version of FBReader stopped back in October; it's now a couple generations out of date and it shows. This app could really use some polish. My main reason to not recommend getting this app is that there is a better option out there; it's called Aldiko.


If you only download one reading app, it should be this one. It's the best there is on Android. It's much like Stanza (on the iPhone) in that it ties into any number of online sources for ebooks. It is reasonably stable and fast, and it offers a fair number of formatting options. No DRM support, though.

One reason I am so down on FBReader is because Aldiko is very similar. The one important detail that separates the two is that Aldiko is only being developed for Android. Its developers are going to be more responsive to bug fixes, and will likely add features faster.

Format Support

  • Aldiko, Ibis Reader, Word-Player - Epub only
  • FBReader – Epub, FB2, OEB
  • eReader – PDB only

Where to get the Apps

About Nate Hoffelder (11479 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

5 Comments on Reading on an Android Tablet

  1. I think you are selling FBReader a bit short. For one thing, it is the only app available for android that can read Mobipocket files (non-DRM). It also has the quickest page turn, by my reckoning. It achieves this because it loads the whole book first, where as Aldiko seems to only load the books one chapter/flow at a time. FBReader is also very customizable in terms of font type, size, colors, customization of controls. I like the Feedbook integration and shelf-view of Aldiko, but otherwise I use FBReader for my non-DRM books. I like EReader, but I am annoyed by the slowness it sometimes exhibits and the lack of an option to use the volume controls as page turn buttons (a feature that FBReader pioneered on the Android format.

  2. Same as Luqman.
    My favorite is FBreaderJ, and I hope they add someday better CSS support.
    The library, the bookmarks, the customisation are really importants.

    I don’t like Alkido: at first, the fancy bookshelf thing is funny, but not usefull.
    You can’t select your color shemes, and the preset colors are too bright, too colorfull when reading more than few pages.
    I couldn’t change font family, and there wasn’t enought choice with line-heigh.

    Wordplayer : I never understand why it needed 1-2mn to load 100% of next page… hang a lot, unable to change font, right part of the screen is used to brighten/darken the screen… where you’re used to tap for changing page.

    Another problem is some applications dosen’t read from zip/epub files, and need to dupplicate and unzip books on the sd card with poetic folder name as: 125599455457, not as pretty as my_book.epub in the FBreader Books folder.

    There’s other applications for Android : Wordoholic, ireader (your edreader ?), Libris-Lite, Reveal-reader…

    My favorite is the one I can customize, and able to read from zip/epub files, from a directory and not a download/link, and able to display images. It’s the best for “Formless” content.

  3. iReader for Android reads secure Mobi and secure eReader. And is very customizable.

  4. I’m a little late to the party but this is a very nice post! I’m currently putting together a guide to mobile reading on all types of devices and I knew next to nothing about the Android.

4 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  4. Archos 5 Internet Tablet Review | The Digital Reader

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