4 of the Best Ebook Readers for Linux Users

Joel Lee 26-02-2015

A few years ago, we predicted the end of physical bookstores. Not to say that we were the only ones who predicted it, because we certainly weren’t, but anyone who isn’t in denial should be able to see that eBooks are an inevitable future.


As a Linux user, where does that leave you?

For myself, I’ve mostly read my eBooks with mobile apps Don't Like Amazon? Alternatives To The Kindle eBook Reader App For Android Amazon has its own set of flaws that send readers looking for an alternative that’s just as good. Looking to get away from Amazon, the Kindle, and DRM? Here are some of the best ebook... Read More like Aldiko and Mantano. I’ve also done a good bit of reading with EpubReader, a wonderful Firefox extension that I highly recommend. But now that I’m on Linux, it’s time to see what kind of native readers are available.

Here are the best that I’ve found.


If you call yourself a fan of eBooks and you’ve never used Calibre before, you should drop everything you’re doing and install it right away. This beast of a program is more than just a reader – it’s a full-on library manager that simplifies everything about keeping your eBooks in order Calibre: Hands-Down, The Best eBook Manager Available Electronic media is no doubt more prevalent today than it ever has been. The Internet is at the core of it all, and because of it we have eBooks, web articles, and news from electronic... Read More .

But it is an eBook reader as well, and a darn good one at that.



At first the interface can be overwhelming with its mess of buttons and panels, but most of it can be ignored and you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Only care about basic reading functionality? Just load in your eBooks, browse through the list, and double-click the one you want to read.

Calibre not only supports a vast array of eBook formats right out of the box, but can convert between formats as well. It can also remove DRM from locked eBooks. Additional features can be added through its third-party plugin system.

And if you’re the kind of person who’s always on the go, you should know that Calibre is available in portable form, meaning you can throw it onto a spare USB thumb drive and carry it around with you everywhere. Or you can throw it on cloud storage and use it that way if that’s more your style.



Despite being able on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, Lucidor hasn’t received the kind of attention that it deserves. Is it as powerful and feature-rich as the aforementioned Calibre? Not quite. Is it a powerful program that provides a great user experience? You bet.


Lucidor’s interface is exactly what I’d expect from a desktop eBook reader. The table of contents in the sidebar is perfect while the viewer on the right is clean, allowing you to focus on the text itself. The bookcase, which is what Lucidor calls its library, is also well-organized and without clutter.

Speaking of the bookcase, Lucidor allows users to create multiple collections that are each comprised of their own books. This means, for example, that you could conceivably have separate bookcases for fiction and non-fiction, separate bookcases by genre, or however else you want to split it up.


But my favorite feature of Lucidor is tabbed reading. Multiple eBooks can be opened under multiple tabs, which is a trivial function in the grand scheme but absolutely important for its convenience factor.


One of the most popular eReader apps on Android is FBReader, but did you know that it’s also available on desktops? Not just Linux, but Windows and Mac OSX as well. While it’s a bit simplistic as far as feature set goes, it gets the job done without sucking up too many resources.


FBReader only supports open formats, which means it won’t be able to load any DRM-protected eBooks (such as those bought for the Kindle). That being said, most eBooks are available in open formats so it should only be a problem if you’ve already built a massive collection in proprietary formats.


The interface is hit-or-miss. Though I consider myself to be a minimalist in a lot of ways, FBReader is just too simple for me. I’d prefer a bit more customizability in terms of structure and formatting, but I can also see how some people would love FBReader’s look.

My biggest gripe about FBReader is an issue of convenience: it’s not possible to add more than one eBook to the library at a time. I don’t know if it’s a deficiency in the Linux version, an overall bug, or an overlooked feature – but as it is right now, the lack is a real thorn in my side.

Cool Reader

I didn’t know Cool Reader was available on Linux. My first and only experience until now was with its highly popular Android app, which did not leave a great taste in my mouth, so I almost skipped over this one in my search for the best Linux eBook reader.

And while I still wouldn’t place this one anywhere near the top of my list, I was pleasantly surprised by what it offered.


You’ll have to play around with the preferences a bit because the default settings are rather ugly, but once you select a good font face and font size, that ugliness becomes quite pleasant. The interface is extremely simple, but in a way that works surprisingly well.

Unfortunately, Cool Reader lacks a library for eBook management; by design, it’s meant to load files on a read-on-demand basis. It does have a list of eBooks that were recently read, which may or may not suffice depending on how large your library actually is.

Cool Reader supports most open formats. If you have a lot of DRM-protected eBooks though, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

Which eBook Reader Do You Like Best?

Gone are the days when Linux didn’t have any good eBook reading solutions. Some of the above listed ones are cross-platform, but even the ones that aren’t are good enough to stand alongside the best Windows eReaders The 7 Best PDF and Ebook Readers for Windows Here are some of the best PDF book readers and ebook readers for reading ebooks on a Windows PC! Read More and the best Mac eReaders 7 Ebook Readers For Your Mac Compared Read books on your Mac. Sure, tablets and e-ink devices are better ways to read than your computer – but sometimes you need to open a book on your Mac. Read More .

My personal favorite at the moment is Calibre, but I think I’ll be switching between them over the next few months as I figure out which one best suits my day-to-day needs.

Looking for stories to read? Here are a few places to read fiction online for free 5 Places To Read Fiction Online – For Free! Want to read fiction without ever paying a cent? Do so legally? A lot of websites offer you a chance to read a wide selection of fiction without putting your wallet on the line. Read More . Is that not enough? Consider these eBook subscription services The 6 Best Ebook Subscription Services for Unlimited Reading Ebook subscription sites allow for unlimited reading for a flat monthly fee, similar to Netflix and Spotify. Should you subscribe? Which site is best? Read More that provide unlimited access to online libraries for a small fee.

Which one is your favorite? Are there any eBook readers I missed that you think deserve a mention? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Related topics: Ebooks, eReader.

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  1. Tony
    August 16, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Re this from the FBR review: "My biggest gripe about FBReader is an issue of convenience: it’s not possible to add more than one eBook to the library at a time."
    Navigate to the folder then use shift or control to select multiple files and they will all load into the library at once.

  2. Chris Henderson
    August 1, 2017 at 3:04 am

    I can't find one that lets me type in notes. Seems like a pretty basic feature to ignore, no?

    • Tony
      August 16, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      Try Okular. You can annotate and highlight etc. They call it the "Review" feature. It doesn't alter the original file only within Okular. If you don't already have it when you install get the okular extras package too.

  3. randondiesel
    June 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I have the following preferences when it comes to ebook readers -- Android: Bookari (previously Mantano ebook reader), Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, Lucidor on desktop. I use Calibre to transform between epubs and kindle format (azw3) and sideload onto kindle too. I am finicky about the look and feel of my ebooks, so I take extra pain to include custom fonts to create a more printed book experience. I use Sigil to edit and correct the epubs. Just to be doubly careful, I also version manage the epub sources using git.

  4. Andy
    July 10, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Calibre is a horrible, horrible application. It opens an external reader for one. The main application is a library manager, completely useless if your library is just fine as it is, which most users are, duh. The fact that it copies the books to another directory is just plain stupid. Now I have two copies for absolutely no reason at all, just wasting disk space! There is no use for having two copies of 10 gigs worth of books. On there forums they state, " you can delete the original... how about not making a copy in the first place, you idiot. I don't need a cataloging application, just a reader, maybe a few covers or so, but the reader is the ultimate desired function. I advise to stay away from Calibre.

    • Ugh
      July 10, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      Calibre is a blessing in organizing and browsing your library and sending it to your ebook reader. It is much more convenient than just folders in your file explorer. If you don't need that and want "just a reader" then how about not using it in the first place, idiot? You are complaining that an application whose main purpose is organizing books(not a reader even though one is included) organizes books! And you are calling someone else an idiot?

    • Anonymous
      August 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      Andy, I agree with you 100%. I have installed Calibre for one reason only, to use the command line program ebook-convert. I never, ever run Calibre itself, the GUI program that infests your hard drive with tons of stuff you didn't want and didn't ask for. Just like Windoze!


      • Lig
        August 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm

        "the GUI program that infests your hard drive with tons of stuff you didn't want and didn't ask for. " That is pure lie or ignorance. Calibre doesn't do that. If someone has a better program to organize a huge library, I'm ready to listen to the suggestions.

    • Lig
      August 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      You don't know how to use calibre, it's powerful, maybe you don't need a book organizer but just a reader; It doesn't simply copy the file, it organizes the file in folder where your epub or pdf file is put with the metadata file. Calibre is not avoidable when you want to manage books, the Calibre library it creates is recognized by 99% of the reader, so, if you want to change your reader, Calibre is a good way to make the data readable by every ones of them. You can create remote libraries in cloud, and then use another reader. Calibre is useful, but not perfect, it lacks a lot of things. A better management of cloud and shops, but it's not close to happen. The thing I don't understand is why nobody didn't create yet something better than Calibre, with all the flaws this software has.

  5. Stein Bauge
    April 24, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    A reader for Windows should be possible to run in Wine (linux software emulator).
    In principle .. can try PlayonLinu (an app that sets up windows apps in linux)

  6. A george
    February 27, 2016 at 11:45 am

    What a shame this area is so badly supported in linux. A whole plethora for windows, android, ios and we get these. Calibre is great as a converter but so slow as a reader. FBR reader just didn't work for me and is so basic. Oh for something like sumatra for windows or moon reader for android. Must admit I'm fairly new to linux, but after initial enthusiasm I'm finding the lack of apps rather frustrating.

  7. mchlbk
    March 4, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    I'm using Calibre on Ubuntu at the moment and Cool+ Reader on Android. It's ok but I'd really like a reader that would sync between the desktop and Android.

    Don't know if it exists, will have to look into it one of these days...

    • Joel
      March 12, 2015 at 3:59 am

      An all-in-one desktop/Android ereader would be neat. I'd think Calibre would want to implement something like this since it has such a big piece of the ereader market. If you end up finding one that works well, please let us know! :)

  8. AshenWonderland
    February 28, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I use pPub ( ), myself. Although, if you're not a fan of FBReader's minimalism, you probably won't like pPub because it's even more minimalistic.

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:31 am

      It's sad that it appears to be abandoned. (Last commit was in 2012.) I really would've liked to see a few more quality eReaders on Linux. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • AshenWonderland
      March 8, 2015 at 2:41 am

      It does seem like it might be getting picked back up soon from this comment ( ) on the latest issue, though, as the developer is in the process of switching back to Linux and will be able to work on it again.

      Epub readers are rather simple, though, so I'm surprised there aren't more of them out there.