Quick Guide: How To Enjoy eBooks Without A Tablet Or An eReader

Yaara Lancet 06-08-2012

read ebook without ereadereBooks 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

read ebook without ereader

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 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

read ebook without reader

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.

Download: Kindle for Windows, Kindle for Mac, Kindle Cloud Reader


Kobo for Windows/Mac/Web

read ebook without reader

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

read ebook without reader


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 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 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

read ebook without ereader


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.

Image credit: Girl reading on laptop image via Shutterstock

Related topics: Ebooks, eReader, Reading.

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  1. Boni Oloff
    November 12, 2012 at 1:13 am

    I use calibre to organize my ebooks.

  2. A
    September 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for this especially when you can't spend all those monies on e-Readers.

  3. Chris
    August 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I'm surprised there's no mention of Sumatra .pdf which supports most commong eBook formats such as: .pdf, .chm, .epub, xps and other common eBook formats.

    Also a favorite .pdf viewer.

    And Google Books since they allow online/offline reading and some free books as well.

    • Yaara Lancet
      August 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions! Google Books was mentioned in a different article, so I was trying to provide other options. :)

  4. Lm Kusanagi
    August 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    we can read a ebook in epub format even on a j2me fone just use albite reader software

  5. Sanjeev kumar
    August 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I want to use ebook.

  6. Nancy Cunningham
    August 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I have been very satisfied with Kindle for PC.

  7. H G
    August 8, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I have used the Calibre to windows and linux, but it's always good to have alternatives. Thank you!

  8. Peter Daly
    August 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I have most of the pc reading apps: They're all pretty good. I also have 2 laptops. The reading apps I have on all 3 are: Nook Study, Mobipocket, Sony's Reader for PC, Microsoft Reader, and Calibre.

  9. pam rose
    August 8, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Am I alone in finding that reading from my computer screen is very stressful on my eyes? After reading my emails, social media, newletters & links, I'm already squinting.
    I've read about filtering glasses - has anyone used them? My screen is non-glare and that's not enough help: are there other options out there?

    • Yaara Lancet
      August 10, 2012 at 12:08 am

      I feel the same way. A tablet is just a bit better, but e-ink e-readers are the best for this, not way around that.

  10. Marcel
    August 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I use Calibre, Sumatra, Kindle for pc (also kindle touch), all have strongpoints and weaknesses. Beats toting 3 or 4 books around at a time.

  11. Edward Bellair
    August 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    With all that I read on my comp it is a nice change to have a book in hand. Plus if I get to the last page and its missing I dont want to throw anything other than a book.

  12. Roger Lakner
    August 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I have a Mac and have downloaded the free Adobe's Digital Editions application which is a great reader application for Mac & PC computers. It handles EPUB, text, nook, and other types.

  13. johnnie
    August 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    pls can i get sites to get ebooks

  14. Harry G
    August 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Great guide ta!

  15. Aditya Roy
    August 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Have been using Kobo, will give others a try sometime too.

  16. S V Swamy
    August 7, 2012 at 2:57 am

    I read them on my PC monitor but am now considering buying a tablet so that I can read them away from the chair...

  17. K.David
    August 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    This is a wonderful information.Now a days Email is a very powerful marketing tool. In spite of spammers abusing the medium, email can still be used and is still valued by users for timely, rich and enticing information and advertisements. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

  18. Patrick Mac
    August 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I have been looking for an ereader for either the pc or ios that scrolls the text, so you can set the speed and then lean back and read not having to turn the pages and mess with my train of thought when reading. any suggestions?! -thnx

    • S V Swamy
      August 7, 2012 at 3:01 am

      Why not use a software that reads the book for you? That way you can close your eyes and hear the book and focus on your thoughts.

      • Rick
        August 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm

        Can you advise on an economical software to read ebook and does the text to speech.
        I have both PC & mac
        With thanks

        • S V Swamy
          August 10, 2012 at 1:10 am

          I am sure you will get better suggestions from other members here. I did use some text to speech (reading out the text) software but those were free editions. A google search shows many options now, some free and others not free. Try out the free ones first. All software has some limitations esp. in terms of the formats of the text that they can handle. For Mac, there could be some Apps (applications) on their store / shop (I am not a Mac user and have no idea). Best wishes.

    • solostand
      August 7, 2012 at 6:50 am

      ICE Book Reader works that way. This reader itself is pretty cool and has really smooth autoscrolling. But is Windows-only.

  19. Dick
    August 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    If you use Firefox and don't want to download an ereader program, try the Epub Reader addon for Firefox. Works very well. And if you have other ebook files you'd like to convert to epub (or to any different format) check out

    • Yaara Lancet
      August 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm


  20. Christopher Grams
    August 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    FBReader is also good for reading most formats on PC. Tiny program. Works. I have an iPad, and still need to use Stanza, Kindle and Cloudreader to do what FBReader does on it's own.

    • ecd4a4d35dce1b96560e85a8ce64f578
      August 7, 2012 at 2:04 am

      FBReader is my favorite since it is cross-platform. Nifty little program!

    • Yaara Lancet
      August 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Sounds great, thanks for telling me about it!

  21. Desiree
    August 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    You can use all of these on your android or iphone as well

    • Yaara Lancet
      August 9, 2012 at 11:58 pm


  22. Ale Bendersky
    August 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Great! Especially for those of us in 3rd world countries where the latest devices arrive too late or never and if they do, at ridiculous prices (ex: basic papyre reader 1000 argentine pesos or aprox 200/250 usd). Thanks so much Yaara and all ofthe MakeUseOf staff

  23. Ty Neal
    August 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Just what I need for my summer reading project! Thanks!