The R post for #26Tech A-Z Challenge profiles the many apps and tools I use to make use of any time space in my day, and catch up with my (digital) reading.
A small portion of this post gives a tip on Evernote usage and falls under the #Evernote4Writers series.
My eleven year old daughter tells me I spend too much screen-time. Which is one of the requirements of any writer nowadays. I try to keep screentime to a minimum but-
My daughter’s best-intentioned warnings don’t take into account the sheer multiplicity of our lives nowadays. We are so busy in simply doing what we do for our commutes and jobs, keeping the household running, dealing with other tasks, that finding the time to sit down and read means not doing something else that may be as important. Writers must read, however-
Tablets and e-readers allow us to make the best of small amounts of time on-the-go for reading.
Note: this is a long post providing a comparison and options in many reading apps. Scroll down and browse to find anything of interest.
Let’s start with the usual suspects –
Kindle App, iBooks, the Nook* or Kobo Reader Apps (or devices), dependent on your bookstore of choice.
The apps are free, and offer in-app purchases of more books from the relevant stores – Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
Amazon ebooks support .mobi and the later Kindle8 formatted digital files. The rest support ePub file formats. Most also allow for other document formats such as PDFs to be read in-app too.
*Nook has just arrived in Europe and the U.K.
What I love about the two I use – Kindle App and iBooks, is the ability to change the light intensity on reading, and resize the text. (As I grow older, text size becomes much more relevant). I also like to be able to catergorise my books on the device – sending them to special bookshelves (only iBooks does this).
- Good e-reader apps also offer the ability to not only purchase and download new books onto the device, but to upload your own books in the relevant format. I’ve been sold many e-books from author websites that I’ve needed to get into the app reader to read. I normally move these over via Dropbox.
- Reading ebooks through iBooks and the Kindle App have a further benefit in interactivity –
- There are now rich media books built for iBooks which include in-book videos etc. Downloading these takes some space and time, but makes reading enjoyable.
- The Kindle App, like others, works well with the device environment – URL links popup in in-app browser windows, if I’m online. Internal html bookmark links let me move back and forwards within the text.
- Kindle Apps and iBooks also offer the ability to save PDF documents to the apps for reading.
Other Reader Apps for EBooks
- The BlueFire Reader app is capable of opening and reading Adobe DRM editions via the Adobe Content server.
- The Aldiko Reader for Android is a well-credited app, allowing you to download thousands of free classic or modern works.
- Marvin for iOS – Marvin reads and manages ePub formatted ebooks, and can integrate with Dropbox to pick up files, or Calibre – if you use the later desktop app to manage your ePub ebook files (or for conversions of ebooks). Includes the ability to annotate and some text analytics functions making this app great if you want to proof-edit your own ebook on-the-go.
Longform and Short or Serial Form Reading
Digital reading is developing quickly nowadays to meet reading trends. We used to have just novels or short stories, now we have reading material in many lengths.
- Longreads is a community and subscription site offering quality long-form stories online via a twitter hashtag. Longreads are over 1,500 words and include journalism, fiction, book excerpts, historical texts, interview transcripts, screenplays, and academic or science papers. Shared stories can be read from the link and saved to read-it-later apps like Pocket (for more see below).
- Longform – a website and reader app for iOS – The Web site selects wordy magazine and online articles for readers. A collection is remixed for the iPAD magazine app.
- Rooster is a new iOS iPhone e-reader app and reader subscription service currently under beta invites – signup and you are delivered your choice of two novels each month (a classic and modern, or both), in bite-size serial installments (say, 15 minutes worth) which are delivered to your phone daily. Read them in your break. I love this!
- Wattpad is well known for allowing authors to publish their fictional work in installments for feedback and votes from the Wattpad community. It also offers mobile apps to keep up with your serial and social reading.
PDF and Document Reading
Reading PDF and documents is an important task for e-devices now. Many books and training course materials are provided in PDF format. When I come across PDFs as downloads I open them in the Safari iOS browser tab, and use the Send To popup function to save to the following apps:
- Both the Kindle App and iBooks app on my iPAD both deal with PDF’s well. iBooks even lets me create a PDF To Read book shelf category to file the PDFs into.
There are two other apps which I consider a must-have for the iPAD, for PDF and document reading:
On the Evernote Windows desktop app this means the front page of the PDF is inside and open. Evernote uses the Foxit PDF reader to provide the simple arrow buttons to scroll through and read PDF manuals and training guides inside Evernote when at my desktop.
The same PDF document in an Evernote note on my iPAD app will open a full sized popup window from where I can read the document by scrolling along the pages. As a Premium Evernote user with Skitch installed on my iPAD, I am presented with the Skitch annotation tools for the PDF – I can add text labels and marker labels to the PDF file right there.
Note – if I want to read a PDF within Evernote while out and about, the notebook will need to be an offline one (a Premium Evernote function) and I will have needed to download the PDF before moving offline.
Various Evernote Apps on mobile devices let you read and edit office documents within the app, or in Office Apps on the device.
If I need to have immediate access to a series of different documents (say, for a softball tournament) I can save the documents out of an email or anywhere, or move across through Dropbox, and open into GoodReader. This way, I not only had access to a PDF of the Google map with directions to a tournament location, but another PDF with the field layout, and a multi-tabbed spreadsheet which contained the tournament draw, and parent snack rosters. Oh, and on another tab I kept a PDF copy of an ebook I was reading.
Files in GoodReader can be managed easily – renamed, exported elsewhere, collected in folders, sent to Dropbox, etc. PDFs can be viewed 2 pages across also.
But if that’s not awesome enough, GoodReader is a top PDF annotator, allowing you to draw on, arrow, mark or add comments or sticky notes to the PDF text content.
Webpost, Article and Blog Feed Reading
I have hundreds of websites and blogs which I like to keep abreast of, and of course, whilst out researching and playing on the web, come across many more interesting articles.
RSS Feeds through Feedly
Blog and website feeds are sent through to a feed reader, Feedly, which replaced Google Reader for me, back last year. Feedly lets me subscribe and read my feeds on a webapp or my preferred option of an attractive iPAD Feedly app.
There are too many articles per day to read them all. I simply scan titles and images to find those I’m interested in, and either read on the spot, or open and save for reading offline later.
Feedly works with many other sharing services, with a couple of taps – share and schedule via Buffer or share directly via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Email
Feedly Premium users have an option to send the interesting articles through to Evernote straight away. If these notebooks are offline (Evernote Premium function), then those articles could be read away from wireless access after syncing Evernote.
However, I haven’t subscribed to the Feedly Premium service as yet. Instead I use an interim workflow to save my articles from Feedly to read offline, and later to archive to Evernote should I want. Note that Feedly has a Read it Later function built into the app anyway, but for me the important fact is that Feedly integrates to save and read later services like Pocket.
Pocket (or Instapaper or Readability)
I prefer Pocket, as I enjoy the clean UI, and the way all the articles look in the magazine or block style front page.
Once I’ve sent an article to Pocket (via my desktop browser’s Pocket plugin, the Safari iOS bookmarklet or the Pocket button within my Feedly app) I open the Pocket App and download the most recent articles from the server. Then I can take the articles out and about to read.
Once read, I can delete them (archive them) from the device, star them as favourites, or send to any number of other apps such as Evernote, Buffer, Delicious, Facebook, Twitter, Box.com, Diigo, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, or to my WordPress account.
You will find the other posts under tag: #26Tech or an index post will be provided on May 1st.
A to Z: in April you will find other bloggers providing A to Z posts on many topics, through the 2014 Blogging from A to Z Challenge.