iPhone and iPad

Marvin E-Reader for iOS is Better Than Kindle & iBooks

Bakari Chavanu 21-09-2013

If you want to see how much better Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks e-book readers iBooks Vs. Kindle - Which Is Better? [iPad] A while ago I wrote a post about places to find free books for the iPad. In that post, I compared the iPad to designated eReaders and expressed the opinion that it’s not a worthy... Read More could be, check out Marvin, an e-reader for the iPad and iPhone. Marvin doesn’t sell e-books, but it certainly makes reading them a better experience.


Marvin contains all the features available in the Kindle and iBooks iOS apps, but you may very well find Marvin’s user interface cleaner and more attractive to use. It offers features like annotation, library management, and the better sharing functionality that Amazon and Apple should incorporate into their own e-readers.

Adding E-books

Marvin can’t open EPUB books with DRM (e.g. iBooks and Kindle books), but it provides a bundle of free e-books to get you started, and there’s also in-app links to public domain catalogues, Project Gutenberg, and Manybooks, to name a few. You can also add books from Dropbox (by signing in within the app) and Calibre A User's Guide To Calibre eBook Manager Easily manage, convert and transfer your books using Calibre, the swiss army knife of eBook software, and a variety of related programs. Read More  in a standard DRM-free EPUB format. If you’re stuck for reading material, check out our review of free and paid online sites The Top 4 Websites To Find Free iPad Books While not being as fun as paper books or as easy on the eyes as other dedicated eReaders, the iPad provides a good way to read thousands of eBooks without buying another specialized device. Below... Read More  to download e-books from.


Layout and Features

Marvin’s user interface feels less cluttered and more modern than the Kindle or iBooks e-readers. All of your imported e-books can be sorted alphabetically by title or author, by series and number, date added, last read, number of pages, read or unread and by custom collection.

Marvin 4


The app’s home screen displays the book you’re currently reading, and a sliding display of recently opened books. You can change the color theme of the homepage via the color theme pack which is an in-app purchase of $4.99.


Your can manage your library collection by tapping on the Edit button in the menu bar; select one or more e-books you want, and then click on the Edit button again to choose from the available actions such as adding books to a custom reading list, marking books as read, or deleting them from your collection. Libraries can also be searched.

Marvin edit


Reading E-books

The experience of reading e-books is similar to the Kindle and iBooks readers, but there are more hidden features to make use of while you’re at it. Not only can you change and enlarge the font size of e-books, but you can also change the paragraph and line spacing, and choose to have text justified or unjustified.

Marvin 8

Text can also be read as two-column pages, and page orientation includes landscape mode. Marvin includes dozens of background and text color combinations (including Night mode) to fit your taste and time of day.

The finger gestures for navigating pages can also be changed, and you can even assign gestures for quickly changing the brightness or warmth of the reader, and for skipping ahead 5 or 10 pages. I especially like how Marvin shows the number of pages left in a chapter, which is a feature I wish all Kindle e-books included.



In the general settings for Marvin you can set the e-reader to automatically launch the last opened book instead of the library, designate which items appear in the menu bar, make a direct link to your Dropbox account, and set email addresses for friends you want to share book titles and annotations with.

Annotation Tools

For studying and annotating books, Marvin offers features that Amazon, Apple, and many book publishers won’t allow because of their copyright restrictions. As with most e-readers, you can highlight text in Marvin using multiple-color highlighters. You can bookmark pages, add notes (including copying and pasting text from a page), as well as share your annotations via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Marvin E-Reader for iOS is Better Than Kindle & iBooks Screen Shot 2013 09 14 at 3


Unfortunately, the highlighting of books is a two-step process in Marvin, whereas in the Kindle and iBooks apps you can simply press your finger down on a spot on the page and slide it across to make a highlight.

Marvin does however allow you to view all your bookmarks and highlights on a separate page, which makes for much easier reviewing than the small window that the Kindle app uses. You can also email all your highlights, like you can with the PDF reader iAnnotate iAnnotate: The Best iPad App for Annotating PDFs and Word Documents When it comes to annotating and reviewing PDF documents on the iPad, iAnnotate PDF ($9.99) is my go-to solution. If there's an option to download a .MOBI or .EPUB ebook or .PDF version of a... Read More , which is very useful if you’re writing a research paper or reviewing for an exam. Unlike iAnnotate, your highlights are put into HTML and CSV formats, instead of plain text.

Marvin 1

Similar to the Kindle reader, Marvin also contains a Deep View feature that will scan your selected e-book and find supporting information about the names, places, characters, and other interesting information useful for getting more out of a book. The app even includes a built-in timer for setting how long you want to read.

Marvin Deep View

Worth Downloading

If you’re avid reader of e-books, Marvin is definitely worth adding to your iOS device. It’s packed with customization settings, but it doesn’t feel bloated or difficult to navigate. You may initially need to spend some time setting up Marvin to your liking, but after that you can just enjoy the reading experience it offers.

Download: Marvin (Free) [No longer available]

Let us know what you think of Marvin and what features you would like to see added to your e-reader of choice.

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  1. Ikomrad
    March 16, 2016 at 3:28 am

    Is Marvin still worth loading after 2 years of additional development?

  2. Cycledoc
    January 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Annoying app that works OK but could be better. Too many brightness tint options to fiddle with when lighting changes. No page number of book rather several options for chapters, which most people never use or care about (IMO). Lastly it's chintzy to charge as much for "themes" (colors of the app) as the app cost in the store. Bizarre.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 22, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Cycledoc, when's the last time they updated the app? If it's been a while that may mean the developers have abandoned it. I haven't used Marvin in a long while.

  3. Cycledoc
    January 21, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Annoying app that works, but needs improvement. Be nice if they had page number of book rather than the various options for chapters. When I change lighting I yc

  4. Sal
    December 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    So is there no way to highlight text in Marvin?

  5. Erik
    November 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Google "calibre drm" to find out how to get your kindle (and other) purchases into Marvin.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      November 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Erik, thanks for the tip.

  6. Kris
    October 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Marvin supports 3 different ways to get books from calibre - the calibre driver, OPDS and web interface. If you have any difficulties setting up calibre, please feel free to send an email to support[at]marvinapp.com.

    • Donald Hamilton
      October 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Can Marvin sync bookmarks, edited categories and so on between iPad and iPhone?

  7. michel
    October 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I tried this because I'd like to send my books from Calibre on my WIndows desktop to an Ipod Touch. I couldn't get it to work. Updated Calibre to latest, installed the Marvin plug in, tried to follow the baffling setup instructions, and everything completely failed. Uninstalled.

  8. Jim Eubanks
    September 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I just wish the iPod/iPhone version were free too.

  9. onekerato.com
    September 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

    The annotations you make on EPUBs inside the Marvin app - can these annotations be synced using Dropbox or iCloud or any web service? Can I start reading the EPUB on iPad and continue reading & annotating on the iPhone? Sync is available on both Kindle & iBooks apps.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 23, 2013 at 5:32 am

      Awww, good questions. As far as I can tell, annotations, as I mention in the article, can only be emailed. I don't see a Dropbox or iCloud sync connection. And I don't think it has the Whispersync feature found in Kindle. I should have pointed that out in the article.

      Interestingly, the release of Kindle for iOS 7 now makes me wish I could rewrite this article because the new Kindle update has many features that were lacking before the update.

      So since Marvin is free, I recommend downloading it and seeing if it fits your needs. I still like its overall design.