How to Turn Your Chromebook into an Adequate eReader

samsung-chromebook[1]Are you thinking about getting a Chromebook?

When I first wrote this post in 2014, and even when I updated it in 2016, I could not possibly have recommended that you buy a Chromebook. The selection of apps was still quite limited compared to iOS or Android, because frankly when it came to the major OSes, Chrome was clearly the last thing on some developers’ minds.

Fortunately a lot had changed by the time this post was last updated in July 2020. Now a significant number (the majority?) of Android apps are compatible with Chromebooks, and in fact I would say incompatible apps are the exception.

Here’s what you can do to read on Chrome.

Android Apps

Android is Android and Chrome is Chrome, but did you know that you can install Android apps on Chrome?

When you get a Chromebook you will be able to browse Google Play for compatible apps. And for those feeling adventurous, there is also a hack for running any Android app on Chrome. I haven’t tried it, but I did find instructions on how to pull it off.

eBook Apps

When I first wrote this post there wasn’t much in the way of true ebook apps for Chrome, but that changed by the time I updated this post in 2020. We still don’t have a Kindle app for Chromebooks, but there’s a Nook app and a Kobo app. Also, my Chromebook came with Play Books.

  • Kindle Cloud Reader (web app)
  • Kobo
  • Nook
  • Google Play Books
  • Aldiko
  • Moon+ Reader
  • Adobe Digital Editions
  • Apple Books (haha, just kidding)

There are in fact over a dozen Epub and PDF apps in Google Play that are compatible with a Chromebook.

Save for Later

  • Pocket
  • Evernote Clearly (extension)
  • Instapaper

Library eBooks

When I first wrote this post I could find but a single option for reading library ebooks on Chrome (OverDrive). In 2020 the list of compatible Android apps is longer, and includes:

  • OverDrive
  • Libby (by OverDrive)
  • Hoopla
  • Axis 360
  • Biblioteca Cloud Library

Audiobooks

In 2020 we have quite a few audiobook apps for Chrome, but if they do not appeal to you, you can try streaming from websites. Also, Downpour.com has no DRM so you could simply download audiobooks there and play them in a media player.

  • Audible 
  • Audiobooks.com
  • OverDrive
  • Chirp
  • Libro.fm
  • Nook Audiobooks
  • Play Books
  • Librivox

PDF

There are like 50 PDF apps for Chrome, including:

  • Adobe Reader
  • Foxit
  • Notable PDF
  • MetaPDF

News and Feed Readers

Here are a few compatible RSS feed readers you’ll find in the “news reporting” category in Google Play, but for this type of service you might be better off using the web browser version of these apps. (That would be my preference.)

  • Feedly
  • Inoreader
  • News+
  • Newsblur
  • Bazqux
  • Feedspot

Digital Comics & Manga

We have far more digital comics options in 2020 than when I first wrote this post.

  • Marvel
  • DC Comics
  • Tapas
  • Marvel Unlimited
  • Dark Horse
  • Comixology
  • Play Books

Addendum

The above lists are (probably) incomplete, so if you know of an app, extension, website, or service which should be listed here please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

 

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

19 Comments

  1. Chris Meadows28 November, 2014

    Note that you can run some Android apps on Chromebooks now with a hack, and Google wants to make it so that all Android apps run on Chromebooks without the hack being necessary but that will take longer.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder28 November, 2014

      Yep. That’s why I mentioned the hack first.

      Reply
  2. Bart Anderson28 November, 2014

    I’m glad you’re starting to cover Chromebooks, Nate. I think they are a “sleeper” product which will become more and more popular as people realize how convenient they are for the 90% most common uses (email, watching videos, browsing the web, writing, minor image editing). The use of Chromebooks has really take off in schools, and I can see them becoming very popular with seniors. For me the key advantage is that they are practically no-maintenance and virus-free.

    I’m an enthusiastic user of Chromebooks (I have two), but I don’t really want to read ebooks on them – for the same reason that I don’t like to read ebooks on any laptop.

    The form factor is awkward, and it tires my eyes to be looking at a bright screen for hours. Tablets and e-readers are really the tools of choice for e-reading (yeah and smartphones too I guess, especially the phablets).

    I do have several of the apps you mention running on my Chromebooks: Readium, Google Play, Kobo, Kindle, Pocket and NYT. They all work fine. Even though I don’t use the Chromebooks much for reading, they are good for re-arranging things within those applications, for example, adding tags to articles in Pocket.

    What I’d really like to see on Chrome are tools for ebook organization (e.g. Calibre) and creation (e.g. Jutoh).

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 November, 2014

      I also think Chromebooks could do well in other institutional uses: businesses, college computer labs, and anywhere else that a controlled function device is desired.

      And as for reading on one, I read on my laptop.

      Reply
    2. Nate Hoffelder29 November, 2014

      “I’m an enthusiastic user of Chromebooks (I have two), but I don’t really want to read ebooks on them – for the same reason that I don’t like to read ebooks on any laptop.”

      I actually like reading books on my laptop; the large screen lets me scan text a lot faster. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were in the minority when it comes to ebooks, but I bet I’m not the only one to read in a news reader, or listen to audiobooks, on a laptop.

      Reply
  3. TheGreatFilter29 November, 2014

    I’d like to see comparisons of chrome-books with so-called Windows capable chrome-book killers. At the low price-points, they’re something a lot of people are watching.

    Reply
  4. TheGreatFilter29 November, 2014

    As far as I can see, a chrome-book will do less than my Android tablet, except have a keyboard. I suppose it’s all about the keyboard, which is fair enough. But with limited functionality, can a chrome-book do enough make the keyboard worth having. They’re pretty crappy keyboards from what I can see anyway. To some extent, it depends if they can be re-configured.

    You can install Linux on it, I suppose, but then why not just buy a chrome-book killer and have access to the much wider choice of Windows software?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 November, 2014

      For one thing, Android was not originally intended to be for tablets any more than Chrome was intended to be an OS. One was a smartphone OS and the other was a web browser.

      But more importantly, I would argue that the question “can a chrome-book do enough to make the keyboard worth having” is looking at things from the wrong direction. Chrome exists for things like office tasks, email, and other tasks which require a keyboard.

      I would say that the better question would be to ask why you would go a step down from a full OS like Windows to a half-OS like Chrome. That I don’t understand.

      Reply
      1. whateveragain29 November, 2014

        Price. But chromebook killers are coming.

        Reply
      2. Bart Anderson30 November, 2014

        I don’t think it is a good idea to compare Windows laptops with Chromebooks. The false assumption is that the two are the same sort of beast, and that you can compare them with the simple parameters of price, CPU speed and storage.

        Chromebooks are built on a different paradigm of computer use. Storage and processing occurs (mostly) in the Cloud.

        Because Chromebooks only have to run a browser, the machine can be optimized for that task so that they perform well with minimal hardware. That makes them inexpensive.

        From my point of view, the biggest advantage is the lack of hassles. They update themselves automatically and quickly. Viruses and malware are very uncommon, because of the architecture of the system. And the system is easy to learn, because everybody is familiar with browsers.

        So for the 95% of the applications that most people run most of the time, it is a brilliant approach.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder30 November, 2014

          The thing is, Chromebooks and Winlaptops occupy the same slot. I’m only going to carry one or the other so it is reasonable to compare them.

          Reply
          1. Bart Anderson30 November, 2014

            That’s just it, Nate, they are very different slots.

            If one can “live in the Cloud,” using online apps (especially Google apps), then Chromebooks have big advantages.

            If you have to run applications locally (high quality video editing, for example), then they are a no-go.

            Some people keep a fully featured computer at home (laptop or desktop), and take an inexpensive Chromebook for light use or when they go out.

            Chromebooks are also good for non-technical spouses, relatives and children.

            A brother-in-law is visiting? Give him your Chromebook, and he can log on with his own Google account or use a Guest account. Your files will not be affected by what he does.

            BTW, I didn’t realize that people could happily read on their laptops. Just goes to show that one shouldn’t generalize from one’s personal experience!

            Reply
  5. […] was updating my post on Chrome as a reading platform this morning when I came across a previously unannounced Chrome […]

    Reply
  6. […] is great news for just about every type of app, including ebook apps. Chromebooks have made for marginal reading devices due to the limited support by developers; now the Kindle Android app will supplant the Kindle Cloud […]

    Reply
  7. CHERYL MCKINL29 June, 2016

    isn’t it a co-incidence that bn’s web reader went bye bye coinciding with their pay out for the credit for free ebooks due to that lawsuit settlement? I have $116 in credits i can’t use. I think that’s total you know what. just a way for them to get around paying it out. i’m going to order the books in print just to make sure i spend all the credits.

    Reply
  8. Frank29 June, 2016

    Google recently announced that recently made Chromebooks, within the last year or so, will be able to run Android apps. This will add many more e-reading options.

    Right now, only three Chromebooks can do it and you have to run “unstable” Chrome OS 53, but the final version will be added by the end of the this summer to most of the others: http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-to-run-android-apps-on-your-chromebook/

    Reply
  9. Bonnie Dale Keck23 May, 2018

    I have one of the newer chromebooks, acer chronebook 15, and it does allow a lot of apps to be loaded, however the majority are total crap

    this chromebook, mine specifially, can not get hold of anyone to send it back and/or figure out what the crap all is wrong with it, as it’s suggested that logitech be used, bought one type after another, NONE of them worked more than one try or so, totally useless and waste of money and time, can got get ANY MULTIPLE brands of memory sticks and/or usb storage

    this chromebook pushes chromevox, which after multiple tries and multiple ways, has NEVER been able to read {vocally} any type of book, regardless of format, and the suggested reader Readium is a bad joke, Simple Epub Reader was working for a book or 2, now won’t work {and tried various epub types/formats AND their extension page on chrome for apps etc no longer has any usable link to go to see if their voice addition could be updated or switched out so now unusable

    if you are a user that only has a page up at a time, that is very few users that don’t have at least a couple or so, then it MIGHT ‘work’, somewhat sometimes

    I used to be a computer tech, but chromebooks are supposed to be more akin to macs in the way that it should be as little tech knowledge needed, BUT even *I* can’t figure out all the problems in this POS, AND STILL have NOT gotten anything back from Acer/Chromebook about what was a new computer with NON working storage ports, will NEVER get another chromebook for ANY reason EVER

    Reply
  10. Mark Watkins6 July, 2020

    Bookship is a social reading app, with a built-in eReader and a library of tens of thousands of free (out of copyright) works from Standard EBooks, Project Gutenberg, and other sources. The app runs on Android as well as the web (https://www.bookshipapp.com) so using it on a Chromebook is straightforward (iOS and Kindle Fire as well). We have thousands of reading groups using the app to read together with their friends. The basic app is free, including all of the eReader features. (I am the founder.)

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder7 July, 2020

      thanks!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top