Reading eBooks on Android

by Brent on March 22, 2010 · 12 comments

by Brent on March 22, 2010 · 12 comments


One of the questions I get asked a LOT is, “Is there any good way to read ebooks on the Android platform?” Just like in so much else, the answer is a positive yes. While not as robust (yet) as alternate platforms, in many ways I believe that it already surpasses the options on Blackberry, although that is now moving much more quickly with larger screen models. That being said, we are still awaiting support from the bigger names in the space: Kindle, Stanza, and B&N. Let me introduce you to the two that I use on a regular basis.

Aldiko Book Reader

There are two versions of the application, a regular and a “premium” edition and both can be downloaded from the Market. The premium edition is $1.99. Most folks end up with the premium edition. You want to know what the difference is? Nothing whatsoever, as far as I can tell. So, what gives? The premium edition is for if you appreciate the product. I own the Premium Edition. In all my years of reading ebooks on a handheld device, I have never found a superior product. Some are its equal, but this is a very fine application. Aldiko supports the ePub book format exclusively. And it does it very well, with great cover views and full support for embedded pictures, etc. You are welcome to use your own ebooks, if you own them and can easily copy them to your SDCard for use. Personally, I joined (free), and once or twice a week, I receive an invitation to download a new short story in ePub format for free, featuring work from some of the best authors in the business, as well as the best of the up and coming. These I reserve exclusively for reading on the Android as the length is just right and I know that I am going to enjoy.

Downloading eBooks

Additionally, from within the application (and on the go), there is a built-in catalog of sites you can visit that offer thousands of books from best sellers to low cost or free books. Although I believe that this application does a very good job of helping you find ebooks that you can own vs. rent it (with DRM). Renting a book is what you are doing when it has DRM and you cannot do with it what you want. Go crazy here, if you like. What is the downside? It will consume a large amount of your time because it gives you a chance to look at a lot of stuff.

Reading in Aldiko

This is a very comfortable reading experience with a full screen view. Customizable navigation modes using the touch screen are available and intuitive fling or tap gestures are fully supported. You can fully customize and personalize your reading experience. Adjust the background color, font type, font size, margin as well as the display brightness to best suit your preferences. You can also quickly adjust the brightness of your display by sliding your finger along the left edge of the touchscreen. Easily switch to Night mode when reading in low-light areas. The Night mode font and background color are fully customizable as well. Create your own bookmarks anywhere in the book. Rapidly navigate to any given section through the Table of Content. Truly, this application is a joy to use.


You can read eBooks and other forms of digital content on your smartphone.
Kobo offers FREE reading applications for the most popular smartphones. This means that you can browse, search, buy and read your favorite eBooks and download them directly to your phone at anytime. is one of the many sites on the Internet that is attempting to capitalize on the growing eBook market. Like many others, these offer a wide selection and immediate download of purchased ebooks. Unlike the previous application, they cater to users on all four major platforms: iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Android. Frankly, the implementation on Android is still very immature and needs a lot of work. Unlike Aldiko, where the focus is tight and sharp, I get the impression that the Shortcovers application, as it is called on the Android platform, is very much an afterthought and perhaps hastily put together. Still, if you want to purchase a best-seller on Android and you want it right now, it is one of the few ways to do it.


The opening screen is Spartan and to the point: “I’m Reading” or your current book, “Featured”, “Popular”, and “Search” as categories.


If you choose the only other option, which is “More”, you are presented with some interesting choices, including lists of free and cheap reads and various other categories of offerings.

Featured Free Titles

As you can see from this view, the offerings are shown in a fairly appealing fashion, and frankly, half the fun here is just browsing through what’s available, both free and for pay. In essentially all cases, at least the first chapter or two is free for reading in the for-pay books, so you can get well and truly hooked on a story. Sort of like at the book store, right?

Purchasing eBooks

An account needs to be created at Kobobooks, and there you can link a credit card, if you wish. This will enable you to purchase online easily. While all the books are in ePub format, they are protected with Adobe Digital Editions DRM. This means that you can also read them directly on your desktop, if you wish. One of the interesting things that I found is that I can also transfer books to and from my Sony Reader account and Kobo, as long as it is done on an authorized PC, because they both use exactly the same DRM. This was a nice surprise, as it gave me some new horizons. I could purchase a book on the Android, start reading it, and then later transfer it the the Sony Reader to finish. Try that Rod with your iPad or Kindle!

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  • Lars

    I wonder if there are any apps for Andoid 1.6 that manage DRM’d EPUB books? I would like to borrow ebooks at the public library but they say that I have to get Aldiko 2.0 – which only exists for Android 2.1 and above.

  • Andrew

    Exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks for a great overview. Will give Aldiko a try and let you know.

    • Brent

      Glad to help! Of course, there is also the Kindle Reader now available. This is especially useful if you have a Kindle, as you can share books between your devices. Also, if you are an Audible user, a great client for those audiobooks is now available for Android. Keep in mind that it is in beta.

  • Nathan

    thanks for the review. Our library lends DRM’d EPUB books, they support the Nook for example. I’d love to be able to borrow them on Android.

  • Luke

    thanks alot man, just started Aldiko a minute ago, loving it already !

    • Brent

      Glad you like it! Its really nice to be able to read a few pages here and there when you have those times in your life where you just have to stand and wait.

  • vll

    Using Chm Reader X you can read your CHM ebooks on your Android.

  • Mihai Alex

    Aldiko is the best

  • Leogerochi


  • PDF to Epub

    You can use freeware Calibre to convert various document to readable ebooks on Android. calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:
    Library Management
    E-book conversion
    Syncing to e-book reader devices
    Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
    Comprehensive e-book viewer
    Content server for online access to your book collection

  • Swphillysweetie

    Can you share books with Alkido? (Particularly with other formats: Nook, Kindle, etc.)

  • Free Kindle eBooks

    Thanks for the useful post! Sony Reader app for android is another great app for reading eBooks on android device.