eBooks are a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored. Whether you’re one of the early adopters, or still sticking religiously to paper books, you must have noticed how easy it’s become to get your hands on an eBook. When you can start reading a mere 5 minutes after deciding on a book, the lure of eBooks is bigger than ever.
Alas, not all of us own an eReader or a tablet. Getting such a device requires a one-time investment of $100-$200, which not everyone is willing to make. So are you to give up on eBooks until you get your hands on such a device? Not necessarily. There are many convenient ways to enjoy eBooks right on your computer, without paying for an extra device, and without having to venture to the book store every time you want a new book. It might not be as convenient, but it’s still a great option.
Here are some great apps that will help you enjoy eBooks on your desktop.
Nook for PC/Mac/Web
The Nook is Barnes & Noble’s take on the eReader niche, with devices ranging from a simple $99 eReader to a $199 tablet. But one of these devices is not a must in order to enjoy the wide range of books offered at the Nook Store. Nook Reader is also available for PC, Mac, and in a Web version compatible with IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. All versions are free to use, and let you enjoy your eBooks on your desktop, almost as if you were reading on an eReader.
You’d need to create a BN.com account to enjoy Nook products, but when you do, you’d be able to sync books between different computers, create bookmarks, highlights and notes, create your own library and shelves, and enjoy your eBooks in full-screen mode on your computer.
Kindle for PC/Mac/Cloud
The Kindle is probably the best known eReader out there, and is brought to you courtesy of Amazon. The Kindle line ranges from the simplest $79 Kindle to the $199 Kindle Fire tablet and the $379 Kindle DX. But Kindle books can be easily enjoyed without a Kindle device, provided you have an Amazon account. If you do, you can start reading instantly using Kindle Cloud Reader, compatible with Firefox, Chrome and Safari, or with the Kindle desktop app for Windows or Mac.
All of these Kindle apps are free and support full-screen reading with the ability to create notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc. You can search for highlighted words in a dictionary or on Wikipedia, and even choose to read in two-column mode or in one column, depending on the width of your screen. Once you sign in with your Amazon account, you can sync your books across multiple devices.
Kobo for Windows/Mac/Web
Kobo is another well-known line of eReaders, which offers its own set of desktop and web apps for reading eBooks. Out of all the desktop apps I tried, Kobo’s Windows app is the least responsive and intuitive, but it makes up for these faults with a slick reading interface when you finally start reading on it.
A Kobo account is necessary in order to get books, but once you start, Kobo’s apps will automatically sync all the books in your library between your different computers. The Kobo desktop reader, like all the others already mentioned, lets you highlight, bookmark, and annotate, and also offers quick definitions and translations for words on right-click.
Calibre for Windows/Mac/Linux
There’s not much that hasn’t been said about Calibre, and we like it so much here at MakeUseOf that we even wrote a complete guide about it which you can download for free. In a nutshell, Calibre is an eReader and eBook organizer which you can use to read books from almost any eBook provider out there, and in almost any available format, including ePubs.
Naturally, Calibre supports the usual highlights, bookmarks and notes, and gives you fine-grained control over appearance and fonts. You can also use Calibre to convert eBooks to different formats.
Download: Calibre for Windows/Mac/Linux
Book.ish for Web
Book.ish is a web app which makes reading eBooks on your browser a breeze. It supports ePubs as well as other formats, and you can use it to browse local stores for eBooks, or simply upload your own ePUB files for easy reading. The reader itself works both online and offline, and supports Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE, with Opera support coming soon.
You can also use Book.ish to read on your iOS, Android or Blackberry devices. The reader itself, while not as sophisticated as others, provides all the basic trimmings you can look for in a desktop eReader, with control over appearance and font, and the ability to create bookmarks and search through the books. This is a great option if you’re into ePUBs.
What is your favorite way to enjoy eBooks on your computer? Or do you feel there’s not much point in reading books on a desktop? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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