We’ve profiled similar applications in the past. BookWorm is a great personal online library, for example. But it’s hard to match the simplicity and elegance of MagicScroll’s ePub reader, an example of HTML5 at its best. It’s as good as the eBook reader in Google’s online book store, but you can upload any book you want. Sure, it doesn’t work with DRM-protected books, but if you’re looking for an elegant way to read books online you’re not going to find a better one. Heck, I can’t even think of a desktop eBook reader this nice.
Head over to MagicScroll to get started. Here you’ll find a simple box from which you can upload EPUB files:
You don’t need to register to upload a file; you can simply upload it. If you don’t have any EPUBs you feel like uploading you can try reading a provided sample book to see how you like the feel of the app. If you want to find some free EPUBs, I highly recommend trying out Project Gutenburg.
Once you upload a book you’ll receive a permanent URL for your book. Be sure to save this URL somewhere if you want to read your book on various devices.
Once you’ve uploaded a book you can start reading. The site will process the book for quick reading, then you’ll see its cover. Your book won’t take up the entire window by default:
I find this width perfect, because I don’t like reading at long widths. If you disagree, however, you can easily set the display to take up your full browser window by pressing the fullscreen button in the lefthand toolbar.
Use the arrows keys to turn the page. Simple, right? You can also pull out the table of contents to jump to a particular chapter:
Don’t want to bother with the arrow keys? There’s a magic scrolling function built-in, which makes reading effortless. Click the “Play” button in the bottom-right corner to active this. Text at the top will slowly be replaced with text from the next page, and this transition will work its way down. It’s oddly intuitive, and you can adjust the speed to your preference.
Myself, I prefer the good old arrow keys, but this is a really nice option to have. You can disable this feature, and change the look for your eBooks, in the settings menu:
There being no user account for this service, you cannot sync your books across multiple devices natively. If you use Xmarks or a similar service, however, syncing is as easy as bookmarking the books you’re reading. If you don’t want to mess around with bookmark syncing, you could also try a URL shortener. This will at least make your URLs a bit less cumbersome.
Don’t like Chrome’s new web store? Complain about it in the comments. That ought to show Google it’s stupid to offer such a thing.
This is a web app done right. Not only is it just as (if not more) functional than its desktop rivals; it’s really easy to get started with. I’ll be using this to do some at-work reading for sure. I’m looking forward to future versions, because having a library and bookmarks in the cloud would be awesome.
What do you think? Is Magic Scroll a cool online ePub reader, or do you prefer your reading to be offline? Share in the comments below, and also feel free to point out alternative apps for this.