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Using the iPad as a Book Reader: An Alternative to the Kindle?

written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 2/26/2011

Find out about all the ways you can use the iPad as a book reader. You can read free public domain books on your iPad, read the latest best sellers and even magazines.

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    Reading Books on the iPad

    With its large color screen and long battery life, the iPad is a way to read books. If you are used to a dedicated ebook reader like the Kindle, it will be quite the adjustment. Unlike the Kindle device made by Amazon, the iPad can display video and a full array of colors. For readers with a short attention span, the iPad also offers games, Web browsers, e-mail and numerous other functions. On the other hand, if you are used to reading books in print, it will take some time for your eyes to adjust to the electronic reading experience. Some of your reading habits may need to change too - using the iPad as a book reader on the beach or in the bath can easily lead to damage.

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    The iBooks App

    The iBooks App (Image Credit: The iBook App, a free app made by Apple, offers access to thousands of books. At present, the iBook app has access to over 150,000 titles including recent bestsellers. In addition to purchasing books through iBookstore, you can use iBook to read PDF files or free books published in the epub format. The selection of books available through the iBookstore tends to emphasize recent books published in the U.S.

    What about the reading experience using the iBooks app? Readers can change the font and font size of the text to better suit their needs. There is also support for bookmarking so you can save your place in a book and come back to it later. Readers can also look up words using iBooks built in dictionary feature. At this writing, iBooks does not have a "read out loud" option to accommodate readers with disabilities.

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    Kindle for iPad

    Kindle for iPad (Image Credit: To accommodate readers who prefer the iPad, Amazon has released the Kindle for iPad app. As a result of Amazon's history with books and experience with the Kindle device, the amount of books available through the Kindle app is considerable. At the time of this writing, over eight hundred thousand books can be purchased through the Kindle store. Heavy readers will also appreciate the "try before you buy" feature that lets you read part of a book for free before you make a purchase. The Kindle app also comes with annotation, note taking and bookmarking features.

    Pricing for Kindle books varies considerably with some best sellers selling for $9,99; other titles can be more costly. The Kindle app also has a number of magazines and newspapers available for subscription including Newsweek and other popular publications. As one of the first entrants to the eReader industry, the Kindle's selection is considerable and the prices are competitive.

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    Stanza is a free app that can be used to read PDF files, TXT files and other types of text documents. In contrast to iBooks and the Kindle for iPad, Stanza does not come paired with a large digital bookstore of titles. However, the app does provide access to a large library of classic literature and other public domain books. The app provides a variety of tools to make the reading experience easier: you can change the font size, make notes, look up words and read books in foreign languages like German and Japanese.

    Want to learn more about using the iPad as a book reader? Find out more about the device's features and how it stands up to other eReaders in the Bright Hub article Nook vs. Kindle vs. iPad.

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    Resources & Screenshots

    • iBooks (Apple),
    • Kindle for iPad (Amazon),
    • Stanza,