Who Needs Kindle? Fabrik is a Stylish eReader App for Android That Supports Cloud Sync

Who Needs Kindle? Fabrik is a Stylish eReader App for Android That Supports Cloud Sync

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Let’s face it: When it comes to eBooks, there is pretty much just one big name that matters. One ecosystem; one line of apps; one source of books; one maker of devices. I don’t even have to name it for you to know which corporate behemoth I’m referring to. If this makes you feel a little uneasy, I can certainly understand why (after all, I too think you should own the books you buy). And if you are one of the tiny, nonconformist minority still resisting assimilation into this oh-so-convenient eBook ecosystem, you may be interested in Fabrik. This beautiful Android app boasts a form of cloud sync, just like you-know-who. It supports .epub and .mobi books, offers multiple color themes and fonts, and can even help you hunt for book covers online. It’s not perfect, but it’s more than good enough, especially as a mobile companion for Calibre.

Book Overview and Cloud Sync

Launch Fabrik, and you’ll be greeted with the obligatory screen listing your books:

Fabrik-covers

The app actually comes bundled with Alice in Wonderland and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; I’ve added the Dick Francis book myself. What was cool about it is that I didn’t have to do anything special to load the book into the app: I just dumped it in a Dropbox folder, after I granted Fabrik sync access:

Fabrik-2

This particular step, enabling online sync, was a bit more fiddly than it should’ve been. I had to retry granting Dropbox access three or four times, but eventually I got it to work. Once Fabrik latched onto my Dropbox, loading the book was trivial.

The Reading Experience: Themes and Fonts

Let me hazard a wild guess: You won’t spend the majority of your time marveling at the book selection screen. If you’ll use Fabrik to do any sort of reading at all, you will spend most of your time looking at words:

Fabrik-7

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Scaled down, this looks fairly illegible. Actually, the typeface was a bit on the small side even on my phone’s 5″ 1080p screen. Still, it gives you a sense of the clean aesthetic and pleasant reading experience you get with Fabrik: No toolbars or anything much to get in your way. This is fairly similar to most Android eBook readers, such as Moon+.  And just like Moon+, Fabrik lets you use your device’s volume buttons to flip pages. Of course, you can also just tap the left and right sides of the screen. Tap the middle portion of the screen, and the controls pop up:

Fabrik-8

You can increase and decrease the size of the text, switch between day and night mode, lock the orientation of the device, and switch on text-to-speech to have your device read the book aloud to you. That last feature was terrible on my Sony Xperia Z running PAC ROM. The phone just rattled off the text at an incredible pace and I completely lost track. There are no controls for the reading speed or voice, either.

Fabrik offers a rich selection of fonts:

Fabrik-9

Unfortunately, there is no way to preview what a font would look like. You can tap the font to apply it, but every font switch takes a very long time (over 10 seconds with this particular device and book). It seems that Fabrik repaginates the entire book, rather than simply apply the font to the current screen (something that ought to take a split-second).

After tweaking the theme, typeface, and font size, I ended up with this:

Fabrik-13

This screenshot also shows how easy it is to highlight text, copy it, and make annotations.

Settings

Given its powerful features, Fabrik has a surprisingly simple Settings screen:

Fabrik-4

All settings are clearly explained. You can decide whether or not you wish to use the volume keys for scrolling, hide your device’s status bar for a full-screen reading experience, control the speed of the page turn animation (or switch it off entirely), and more. A section of the Settings screen is dedicated to the Sync option: You can connect Fabrik to either Google Drive or Dropbox. Sync is not just for loading new book, but also for keeping the same position across devices. This is a key feature, since it makes it possible to start reading on a tablet (at home) and continue where you left off using a smartphone (when commuting).

Compelling, Rather Than Groundbreaking

Fabrik did not blow me away with explosive UI innovations — something I am grateful for. An eBook reader should be self-explanatory — it should give you the power you need, but without making things overly complicated or “powerful.” Fabrik offers a great deal of utility and polish, using an interface that felt familiar the first time I saw it.

Will you be giving it a spin? Are you using another eBook reader app? In fact, are you even troubled by Amazon’s utter domination of the eBook market, or do you feel that’s a good thing and we should all just use Kindle everywhere? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments (15)
  • Gabriel

    Where can i get Fabrik Reader again?

    Is no loger available on Playstore!

    Regards

  • David

    This is the one I want to try once they are done developing it: http://PureMediaSoftware.com
    It filters your books to your preference to hide stuff you find offensive. Pretty cool idea.

  • David Burns

    I use Coor Reader on my Android tablet. I tried the rest & settled for the best.

  • Darl S

    +1 for Doc’s comment: MoonReader+ IMO has a superset of the functionality of Fabrik, can also operate via Dropbox and syncs pagination between my Android tablet and phone.
    MoonReader’s toggle between Day and Night settings works fine for me to read on either device at any time….I’m not knocking Fabrik, but what does it do that other software – MR being a prime example – doesn’t?

    Re Amazon and e-readers: once I purchase a book, I want it to be mine forever (not have my rights (digital or otherwise) “rescinded” should some political situation change…). I’d be highly unlikely to use a DRM’d service like Amazon, particularly when publishers like Baen and more recently, Tor, have reasonably priced, DRM-free ebooks for purchase. And yes – if ever I did purchase from Amazon or similar? Calibre to the rescue….

    • Erez Zukerman

      Re MoonReader – I actually didn’t know it does sync. I knew it was great, but it evolved even more since I last looked at it. So, it looks like the differences may be only cosmetic.

      As for DRM: Fully, fully agreed. It’s a real shame B&N doesn’t sell their ebooks outside the States (or at least, they’re not available for me). Tor does, though, and they really are awesome.

  • Mac W

    Isn’t Kindle use e-ink? I loaded my Nexus 7 full with books for this summer but it was useless when it comes to read it outdoors when it was sunny. As I understand it Kindle stay the same in sun

    • Erez Zukerman

      Yes: When you use a physical Kindle device, it has an e-ink screen which you can easily read in direct sunlight. But that’s the hardware itself – I was asking about Kindle apps, which are pieces of software available for many devices (Android, iPhone, Windows and so on).

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.