There are so many great ereaders for Android that it’s exceptionally difficult to select just one, and the one that works best for you may depend heavily on where you get your ebooks and what format they come in. Even so, when it comes to features, usability, flexibility and compatibility, we think Aldiko is the best ereader for Android.
- Completely free, supports Android phones and tablets
- Supports ePUB and PDF books, as well as DRM-locked Adobe ebooks
- Fully customisable interface, including brightness, text size, day/night reading modes and more
- Only keep the books on your device that you want and archive the rest, available for download at any later date
- Supports bookmarking, so you can save pages in your ebooks to return to later, even if you’re finished reading
- Tap any term in your ebook to google it, look it up in the dictionary, or read its Wikipedia entry
- Supports additional ebook catalogues and downloading from stand-alone ebook stores
- Offers in-app shopping and downloads of best-sellers, free and public domain books from multiple online booksellers
- Works with libraries and institutions lending books via OverDrive
- Allows you to organise your ebooks into collections, tag them and filter by tag or category
- Automatically saves your location in all ebooks so you can pick up where you left off quickly
- Simple, easy-to-use UI
Aldiko, like many ereaders for Android, depends on your ebooks being in a format it can understand. While ereaders that are tied to specific ebook stores are definitely easier to use — especially if you get all of your ebooks from that one store — I found that Aldiko’s flexibiliy, compatibility with phones and tablets, and the overall feel and features of the app made reading books even on small screens enjoyable. If you drop the cash for the premium version, you lose the ads that will occasionally appear in the app.
Using Aldiko isn’t a sentence to free and public-domain books, although there are thousands of them available in Aldijko’s in-app ebook store. There are also hundreds of best-sellers and books by popular authors available to purchase in the app from partner booksellers, who then immediately allow you to download your book and start reading. Aldiko also supports many public libraries and schools that work with the Overdrive digital book lending program, so you can check out books from your public library and read them on your Android device. Additionally, with Aldiko Sync, you can synchronise your ebooks — as well as our bookmarks and the place you left off reading — across multiple Android devices via your Dropbox account. If you have a phone and a tablet, for example, you can buy a book once on your phone, start reading and pick up where you left off on your tablet. Spend $0.99 on Aldiko Sync Pro and the process is fully automatic.
Aldiko isn’t perfect – it doesn’t support a lot of different ebook formats, so it’s likely or possible you’ll wind up with some that the app won’t allow you to read without converting them first, and the app doesn’t include any type of conversion tools or utilities. Also, some users have reported that with new versions and updates, the app has actually removed some of its finer features, like granular title/genre/author search, although you can still tag and search by tags and categories. Aldiko’s free selection is modest but could be bigger, especially in comparison to services like Google Books, for example.
Moon+ Reader (Free/$4.99 Pro version) was very close to taking the top spot, partially because it supports more ebook formats than Aldiko, but also because it has a few more reading customisations and animations that make it feel a bit more like an ereader. The app supports gesture commands, like swiping your finger across one side of the screen to increase/decrease brightness, and even has an eyestrain warning to remind you that you’ve been staring at the screen too long. The additional customisation options, themes, animations and other features are great if you want that in your ereader, but at the same time, I found that the price for the pro version is a little steep and the features you get from unlocking it (remove ads, multitouch, password protection, annotations and bookmarks) should really be in the free version — or are in Aldiko, and you don’t get any sync options at all. Still, Moon+ is an excellent ereader if you like a little form with your function.
There isn’t too much to say about the Amazon Kindle (free) app, the Kobo eBooks (free) app, the Google Books (free) app, or the NOOK for Android (free) apps that isn’t already common knowledge, without getting into the nitty gritty of which supporting store has the most free titles or the most bestsellers or the most books available overall to purchase. In the end, you may wind up with more than one on your Android phone, and which one is best for you will be a matter of taste and brand allegiance.
Each one is clearly best suited if you’re a patron of their respective ebook store, and if you have a preference for one or the other, you’re best off sticking with the companion app unless you’re willing to branch out and try something like Aldiko or Moon+, and even then you may be limited by the copy protection on the books you’ve downloaded and purchased. Unlike our iOS counterparts, none of these apps stop you from buying ebooks, magazines and other media right inside the app, and all of them have built-in readers so you can enjoy your media right after purchase. Some of the apps allow you to add your own ePub books so you can read everything in one interface, but it’s clear that the real selling point for all of them is the media store plus media reader combination, and all of them excel at that.
Finally, Mantano Reader (free/$7.51 Pro Version) is another ereader with multiple localisations, language packs and support for Android phones and tablets. If you’re an international user and prefer to read in your own language or your own character set, Mantano Reader may be a good option for you. It doesn’t have the features of some other ereaders, but it’s a strong app that supports multiple ebook formats and sources.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.