Productivity Windows

The 7 Best PDF and Ebook Readers for Windows

Dan Price Updated 27-03-2020

Over the past few years, ebooks have gone from a novel idea to a broadly embraced alternative to print literature. Devices like the Nook and the Kindle have become commonplace—but they’re not the only option if you’re looking to see what ebooks have to offer. Today, there are several worthy ebook readers for Windows.

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If you would like to learn more, keep reading. We’re going to look at some of the best PDF book readers and ebook readers on the Windows platform.

1. Kindle

kindle app windows

The Kindle app for Windows is a well-designed ebook reader—but to get the most out of it, you’ll need to be an Amazon customer. If being able to easily open and read a range of different file formats from different ebook stores Where to Buy Ebooks? The Best Online Ebook Stores There are plenty of places to buy ebooks online other than Amazon's Kindle Store. Here are the best online ebook stores. Read More is important to you, there are better options available.

Kindle’s interface is excellent. Open the app and you’ll be presented with the books you have stored in the cloud and/or on your device. A single click will put you right where you last left the book, regardless of the device you were reading on previously. The rest of the app is clutter-free; there are no ads and no unnecessary tools to dilute the experience.

If you want to use the Kindle app to access books that weren’t bought via the Kindle store, you will first need to convert them into a supported format, then upload them to your Amazon cloud. You can convert ebooks using Calibre How to Auto-Convert Ebooks to Kindle Format When Importing Into Your Library Calibre has another nifty trick up its sleeve: it can automatically convert any ebook into the Kindle's MOBI format when you import it into your library. Read More , or you can use one of many online ebook conversion tools 5 High-Quality Online Ebook Converters for Every Format Ebooks with their multiple formats can be confusing. These faultless online ebook converters will serve your every need. Read More .

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Download: Kindle (Free)

2. Bookvisor

bookvisor app windows

Bookvisor’s design is different from the other Windows ebook apps we have recommended. Whereas as most apps opt for flat colors and distraction-free UIs, Bookvisor tries to replicate the experience of reading a physical copy.

Some of the app’s most notable other features include automatically changing themes depending on the time of day, customizable margins, spacing, and fonts, a brightness slider, and importable bookmarks.

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The app is free to use, but a premium version is available. The best feature of the paid version is the text-to-speech. It’s ideal if you want to “read” an ebook while you are on-the-go.

Download: Bookvisor (Free, premium version available)

3. Cover

cover app windows

While the occasional reader of comics might be able to get by with their standard ebook reader, a tailor-made app is a must for anyone serious about their comic books. Comic books and graphic novels are read a different way to traditional text-based books, so they require different features. Cover offers many of those necessary extra features. For example, you can zoom in on particular panels with a pinch, or swipe between pages with a simple gesture.

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A comic book ereader also needs to support many file types, and Cover does not disappoint. The app supports most major formats, including CBZ, ZIP, CBR, RAR, 7Z, CB7, CBT, PDF and EPUB, as well as standard image formats like JPEG, PNG, GIF, and BMP.

Other notable features include customizable shelves, read/unread status, page counts, and support for ebook storage in local folders, network drives, and cloud storage drives.

Download: Cover (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. Sumatra PDF

sumatra ebook app windows

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Sumatra is one of the best PDF readers for Windows The 6 Best PDF Readers for Windows in 2019 The best PDF readers don't cost any money. Read our roundup of feature-rich PDF viewers that out perform even Adobe Reader. Read More , so it naturally doubles as one of the top PDF ebook readers as well. However, it can also handle many other common ebook formats The Different Ebook Formats Explained: EPUB, MOBI, AZW, IBA, and More In this article we look at all of the common ebook formats, explain their pros and cons, and tell you which ebook readers support them. Read More , including EPUB, MOBI, XPS, DJVU, CHM, CBZ, and CBR.

The app also earns praise for its tiny footprint. PDF readers can sometimes be bloated and run slowly, but that’s not the case here. Your files will load quickly and you’ll be able to flick through them without any stuttering. There’s even the option to download a portable version so you can run it from a memory stick without installing.

Another great feature that Sumatra offers is tabbed browsing. This might not serve the purpose if you’re reading a novel for pleasure, but it does make cross-referencing texts and documents a breeze. It’s particularly for anyone who has reason to read ebooks or PDF documents for academic or professional purposes.

One drawback is that to tinker with any advanced settings, you’ll have to make manual edits to a text file, which isn’t user-friendly. Most users will likely have no reason to tweak these options, but if you do, the interface can be quite off-putting.

Download: Sumatra PDF (Free)

5. Calibre

calibre app windows

Calibre is the go-to ebook library management tool for Windows. It is perfect for organizing your collection of ebooks and transferring them to your ereader. A lot of people don’t realize, however, that Calibre is also one of the best ebook readers for Windows.

The reading interface is not as aesthetically pleasing as the Kindle and Nook apps, Calibre offers a very functional environment to read in. There’s a broad range of options for customizing how the book appears in your screen, and when you’re in full-screen mode you’ll be free from any distractions.

Nonetheless, Calibre is still at its best when it’s supplementing your use of a dedicated eReader. The app is not a great solution if your reading is going to take place exclusively on your computer, however, if you’re using your Windows PC as well as another device, it’s a great way of consolidating your ebook reader and ebook management tool into a single interface.

Download: Calibre (Free)

6. Freda

freda ebook app

The Freda ebook reader for Windows serves two purposes.

Firstly, you can use it to read any ebooks you own in the five supported file types (EPUB, MOBI, FB2, HTML, and TXT) as long as your books are DRM-free. Secondly, the app lets you read more than 50,000 classic titles that are now in the public domain. It pulls the free ebooks from well-known free ebook sites The 10 Best Free Ebook Download Sites Want free ebook downloads? Here are several of the best sites for downloading free ebooks. Read More on the web like Gutenberg and Feedbooks.

If you dig into the app’s settings menu, you can customize the controls, fonts, colors, and more. You can also annotate your ebooks, use the app’s built-in text-to-speech reading tool, and create bookmarks and highlights.

Notably, Freda is also one of the only ebook readers for Windows that offers dyslexia-friendly settings and the OpenDyslexic font.

Download: Freda (Free)

7. Icecream Ebook Reader

Not everyone needs a fancy app with endless bells and whistles. If you’d prefer a more minimalist experience, you should check out Icecream Ebook Reader.

The app supports seven ebook formats, EPUB, FB2, MOBI, PDF, CBR, CBZ, and TXT. There’s a library tool to help you manage your collection, a search tool, an annotation tool, and little else.

Icecream Ebook Reader does not support cloud syncing, but it does have a useful archive and export feature. It’s useful if you need to access your ebook library on lots of different machines.

Download: Icecream Ebook Reader (Free)

Learn More About Ebook Readers

If you’re a bookworm, one ebook reader on your Windows machine is not going to suffice. You will probably also want an app on your tablet, phone, and more.

For advice on which other ebook apps to download, read our article on the best Android ebook readers and our list of the best tablets for reading ebooks The Best Tablets for Reading Ebooks and Other Digital Books Looking for a new device to enjoy your favorite ebooks on? Here are the best tablets and e-readers available right now. Read More .

Related topics: Amazon Kindle, Calibre, Ebooks, eReader, PDF, Windows Apps.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. CameradosHermit
    March 29, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Surprised that you didn't mention Moon+ Reader on Android! I've tried evety other reader and Moon+ is by far the best! I even splashed out and bought the Pro version (only codt a few pounds).

  2. Nate
    November 13, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    The problem with programs like Nook is that you have to have online access to read your books.. I use an app called Kobo. You can buy books from there just like on book or kindle and you can read them and access them offline. This one should definitely be in the list.

  3. Jim stewart
    November 3, 2016 at 12:45 am

    Amazon Kindle = woefully slow to start up. this software is really bloated.

    Some ebook readers also have a Library Management feature which can be quite cumbersome if you just want to open a book and read it.

    Sumatra PDF seems to render well, is not bloated, starts fast, just does what its meant to (no 'library' feature though)

  4. Chuck Fenton
    February 23, 2016 at 10:01 am

    For quite a few years now, my personal favourite has been PDF-XChange Viewer.
    I have been using the free portable version which is just as good as PDF-XChange Editor, its latest incarnation.

    I'm still on Windows 7 - and plan to stay on it for as long as I can - but PDF-XChange Viewer is also fully compatible with Vista, Windows 8 & 10.

    To begin with, I switched to it because of the tabbed interface, the basic editing capabilities (it's pretty easy to create bookmarks when there are none!) and the fact that compared to any version of Acrobat Reader it's super fast and slick (eye candy should not be a factor for the power user but it does not hurt, either).

    Someone at "makeuseof" should really cover this superb free PDF reader, just to make more people aware of its existence and good value.

    Anyhow, check out the article on Wikipedia here
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF-XChange_Viewer

    and their website here
    http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer

    Also available on PortableApps.com
    http://portableapps.com/apps/office/pdf-xchange-portable

    Chuck Fenton

  5. Azus Smith
    December 31, 2014 at 5:58 am

    In current scenario, Kindle is used by majority of Windows users.

  6. Fik of borg
    December 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I was looking for some time for a reading platform that allowed me to start reading on one device for a while and later continue reading on another device on the page I stopped on the first device. Just for clean reading pleasure, I don't need advanced features (that tend to clutter the reading experience).

    I think Kindle would work but only for books bought from them (which is no option in a currency restricted contry like mine, Venezuela).
    I had hopes for some time for Foxit reader, since I found out that it keeps where I left each PDF, but turned out that it keeps that in the local Windows registry along with the settings for every other software in the machine. Besides, it doesn't support other ebook formats.
    Calibre looked promising but it doesn't support syncing of reading status out of the box: one must jump thru hoops using third party utilities that I could never get to work.

    Then I started using Sumatra while looking for a ebook reader light enough to use on one of my older machines (a Windows XP machine with a Pentium4 and only 1GB of RAM).
    Then I discovered that Sumatra's portable mode keeps it's configuration on one file in the same directory, INCLUDING the recent file list and each book reading status. I copied this portable version on the same folder within Dropbox that I keep my reading and presto! Each book reading status is synced via this configuration file. I have my Dropbox folder installed in diferent folders on each machine, but I solve that on each machine startup by mapping it's particular folder to a virtual "B:" drive (for "Bookshelf"), so Sumatra always look for books on B:SomeGenreSomeAuthorSomeOtherFolderWhatever.pdf.
    Now I am using Sumatra for most of my reading, on this old machine up to the 8GB i7 and in-betweens.
    The only remaining thing is android phones and tablets...

  7. suzybel
    December 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I read novels on my Kobo Mini. I use my iPad for magazines. I tried the magazine subscription on my PC but it's not portable, biggest drawback, even though they render beautifully on a large screen. I also read novels on my Playbook with the Kobo app, because it is backlit and the Kobo Mini is not. I use Calibre as my library management. I read short articles on my PC, but a novel or magazine, nope, I like to be comfortable when I read, move around and not be tethered to my PC.

  8. epub reader
    December 30, 2014 at 3:35 am

    CoolReader handles many formats with ease. Available for Android and Windows.

  9. Anggelos
    December 29, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Not all windows devices are localized PCs (Desktops & Large Laptops) my friend. New windows tablets are cheap and of course portable (Dell Venue 8 Pro and now many coming out of China that give the full Windows 8.1 experience). This blog title aids those who have such devices.

    For example many ebooks for medical school are in PDF format. We have no choice but to read these PDF to gain knowledge, but we also depend on the productivity from windows. Would not make sense to have a device for reading books and another for productivity with Med School already being expensive and also the constant movements to various locations.

    • John - IMRGinc.
      January 10, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Nicely said.

  10. Phil N
    December 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I can't imagine sitting at my desk reading a book on my monitor.

  11. Mark N
    December 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Sumatra also handles CBR and CBZ comic book formats.

  12. Akash
    December 29, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Martview works excellent for me !

  13. Ivan Icin
    December 29, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Maybe you should give text to speech apps for books one spot on this list. ReadAloud supports PDF, but I think my app Share to Speech (and its free Lite edition) has the most complete support both considering formats (.epub, fb2, .pdf) and features.