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Nook for iOS Update Adds More Formatting Options, Support for Sideloading Epub & PDF, and More

I might have my issued with Barnes & Noble corporate but every so often their engineers make me sit up and take notice. There is a new update for the iPad app which quietly makes it more competitive against the many other Epub readers on the market.

My first favorite new feature has actually been there for a while (I can see it mentioned in Google searches), but I just noticed it today. While lots of apps like Aldiko, eReader, and Stanza offer many font, margin, and justification options, the Nook app offers those formatting options as well as several stock themes with specific colors for text, background, links, and highlights.

You also get to create your own themes by choosing a set of colors for those 4 options:

What can I say, it’s pretty. When given the option I am an exceptionally picky reader, and that’s half the reason I stick with Aldiko on Android. But now that I know about an iOS option I won’t be quite so resistant to switching over.

Some of the real improvements today include better support for sideloaded ebooks. If you download a DRM free ePub to your iPad you will usually be prompted to open it with one of several apps. The Nook app didn’t used to show up in that list (not for me, anyway), which obviously resulted in me not using it. Now that I can actually use B&N’s apps to open the Epub and make it look the way I want that might change.

The app also now boasts a more complete dictionary. As some users have noted, the Nook app sometimes can’t find definitions for common words. Now that should change. The change list also mentions more font and margin options, though the app offers so many now that I’m not sure I could tell any was added.

But the one feature that most interests me is new support for PagePerfect/PDF. As funny sounding as that is, it’s not just another name for PDF support, nor is it B&N’s fixed layout format or the Epub3 fixed layout (which came later), but that’s about all I know at the moment.

From what I can tell B&N has introduced another PDF-like format into the ebook market, and it dates back to late October 2011 (when it shipped with the then new Nook Tablet).

And don’t you find that detail to be rather curious? B&N had a fixed layout. They also had the option of selling PDFs. And yet they chose to do much the same as Amazon and come up with their own incompatible PDF format.

I wonder why they did that? I mean, I know Amazon developed the PDF like Kindle Print Ready format; they didn’t have PDFs so they wrappe d their DRM around the existing PDF files. But B&N had PDFs as well as other options. So there really wasn’t much reason to release PagePerfect – not at first glance, anyway.

It bears further investigation.


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digital reader fan September 11, 2012 um 3:15 pm

I have never read ebooks on ipad but do you get any eye fatigue? Or do you prefer eink?

Nate Hoffelder September 11, 2012 um 3:22 pm

I might get wrist fatigue but not eye strain.

Tom Semple September 11, 2012 um 3:51 pm

Looks to me like PagePerfect books cannot go outside the Nook ecosystem (specifically Nook Color, Nook Tablet, and the free Nook Study app). Most likely you cannot export it from your account to an Adobe DRM PDF, it is not so much 'incompatible' as it is locked in. From a publisher’s perspective, creating a PDF is trivial compared to fixed-layout ePub (at least until everyone adopts ePub3 standard) so that may be the attraction to this. There seem to be at least 1600 of these in the store.

So this is like Amazon’s Print Replica format.

Syn September 11, 2012 um 6:44 pm

Stanza was my favorite. If Amazon was going to kill it you’d think they would at least incorporate what people like about Stanza, (Ok maybe not the catalogs for the competitor stores) and add it to its Kindle App. I can’t tell you how I despise Sepia.

I could not get into Aldiko on Android but I do like Moon+ Reader. Have you tried that one Nate?

Nate Hoffelder September 11, 2012 um 8:15 pm

Moon+ is good, yes. It even beats Aldiko in some ways.

Logan Kennelly September 11, 2012 um 10:12 pm

I always come back to Aldiko, despite it lacking a few features, because, it accurately renders every book I’ve thrown at it. Every developer should take some O’Reilly titles and see what they are doing wrong.

The Nook Color/Nook Tablet software is also really good except the default font when one isn’t specified is wonky. The Nook for Android application is laughable; it’s like they forgot to install half of the fonts (including monospaced).

For years I’ve been looking for a few very simple things:
*) Accurate rendering (okay, not so simple)
*) Collapsible, multi-level table-of-contents
*) Ability to zoom in on an image
*) Hightlights/Notes

Moon+ is kind of cool, but it also does a terrible job of displaying what the authors intended.

When it comes to eBooks in general, though, inaccurate rendering is actually preferred for novels. Select your own font, adjust the line spacing, set up some nice headers, indent the paragraphs appropriately, and you’ve probably massively improved most published novels. This is really where Kindle wins, too: the typical format is so limiting that readers get a consistent, decent experience.

iucounu September 12, 2012 um 6:17 am

Stanza is still my favourite, on iPhone at least. Amazon did eventually get around to giving it compatibility with iOS5. I’m worried iOS6 is about to break it forever.

Megareader is a good (and supported) clone of Stanza, with some interesting if fairly unnecessary additions.

I don’t believe Amazon will take any cues from what’s good about Stanza; they’ve shown no inclination to stop nannying their customers, typographically. I laughed out loud the other day when I opened the new Kindle app on my phone and looked at the new layout options: you can have stupidly big margins, really stupidly big margins, or enormously stupidly big margins which leave half the screen area as whitespace.

Jim T. September 11, 2012 um 7:32 pm

Nook’s Android and PC apps are sorely in need of a similar upgrade. I use Nook Study on my PC, because it is vastly superior to the Nook for PC.

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