The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

Summary: The Bluefire Reader lets you access public library ebooks and ebooks purchased through various online ebook stores. Check out the image gallery with screenshots of the app in action.

TOPICS: iPad, Hardware, Mobility

One of the things that I have written about before and that has limited my Apple iPad from being the the ultimate ebook reader has been the lack of support for public library ebooks and those purchased from other ebook stores without dedicated applications, like the Sony eBookstore. There are apps for Barnes and Noble Nook and Kobo Books so you can get those books on the iPad, but how would you like to consolidate those titles, library book titles, and other ebooks purchased online into a single application? With the new Bluefire Reader application that I mentioned yesterday you can do just that for current ebook stores. My Apple iPad just jumped to the top of my charts and became the BEST universal ebook reader now available. Check out my image gallery of Bluefire Reader screenshots and more thoughts on the application below.

Image Gallery:A walk around the Bluefire Reader application on the iPad. Image Gallery: Settings in Bluefire Reader Image Gallery: Bluefire Reader library

Adobe Digital Editions

Public library books and those I purchased through the Sony eBookstore with my old Sony Readers use the Adobe Digital Editions DRM scheme to control ebook rights. As you can see in my screenshot gallery, ADE is supported by Bluefire Reader and you simply enter your email and password to authorize your iPad for ADE ebooks. After this, titles loaded from public libraries, Sony eBookstore and other supported ebook stores with EPUB and PDFs controlled through ADE DRM should work just fine on your iPad.

There are some detailed specific directions on the Bluefire Reader website for getting your library books and other ADE titles into Bluefire Reader on your iPad. I first attempted to just drag the ebooks onto iTunes to make the transfer, but these books then just appeared in iBooks and would not open. Make sure to follow the directions where you must add the book through the Apps tab in iTunes with your iPad connected to your PC or Mac.

Another method of getting titles onto the iPad and into Bluefire include emailing the file to yourself or using an online repository like Dropbox and then selecting to Open with Bluefire when opening or downloading the attachment.

Other DRM ebooks

Sony Reader: I also discovered that I was able to load all of my DRM protected books purchased through the Sony eBookstore onto my iPad through the method used for ADE library books since all of my Sony purchased titles are in ADE EPUB format.

Barnes & Noble Nook :When I look at my B&N Nook content I see that ebooks loaded directly through the Nook app are PDB file format. I test these PDB files and could not get them working on Bluefire, which is a shame since the older eReader titles use this format. I did discover though that you can go into the Safari web browser on the iPad and then visit your Barnes & Noble library. Tap the download link and then choose to Open in Bluefire Reader. The ebook will then be downloaded in EPUB format and appear in your Bluefire Reader library. After you tap on the ebook cover a pop-up will appear requesting your Barnes & Noble login information. Simple enter your first and last name, with a space between them as the username. The password is the credit card number associated with your Barnes & Noble account and after entering it when the first book is opened it should be applied to other Nook titles you have loaded on your iPad.

Bluefire Reader application

It is great that the Bluefire Reader application can read all of these different formats. Since the application is free I had preconceptions that the actual reading experience in the application would be limited in some respects. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Bluefire Reader is actually a very capable ebook reader with bottom icons for table of contents, bookmarks, search, and settings. Settings include both general and formatting settings with general settings including the following:

  • Text size with support for 30 increments in size
  • Margin layouts for five different styles
  • Brightness slider bar
  • Four page turn options (flip, slide, fade, and cut)
  • Page numbers in margin toggle
  • Night mode toggle

Formatting settings include the following:

  • Use publisher's formatting toggle
  • Font face with five options
  • Justified text toggle
  • Text color with sliders for red, green, blue
  • Background color with sliders for red, green, and blue
  • Predefined themes with 10 available choices

You need to tap on the Save button to see the changes you made and as you will find you can make your ereader experience look as customized as you desire.

I found the application to perform quickly in both landscape and portrait orientation and am quite pleased with the customization options available in Bluefire Reader.

It is a FREE application so it can't hurt to try it out and you may just discover that you can replace all the various ereader applications on your iPad, with the exception of the Amazon Kindle app, while also now having the capability to check out free ebooks from your local public library.

Topics: iPad, Hardware, Mobility

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  • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

    So you want to spend $500 on an eBook reader? Must have money to burn.

    Gis Bun
    • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

      @Gis Bun Except that its not just an ebook reader
    • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

      @Gis Bun

      Good question and to your point, no thank you. I would not want to spend $500 on an eBook reader. ...but that was not quite the context of the article. I believe it was that the app makes iPad the most extensible and strengthens its position as a serious consideration for use as an e-reader too.

      Going further with your supposition, I personally would also prefer not to spend $150-300 on an eBook reader either. No money to burn here also and accordingly have come to that personal choice.

      Instead, I would prefer to pay $500 (or even more) for a light, fast, intuitive consumer computer with over 10 hours of battery life, more than decent storage, wifi and potential for good WWAN coverage as we transition into consumer cloud computing. With it, I also get the eBook readers for free and can choose most (if not all) of the current competing offerings. I can also do all of the computing functions most of us tend to do 80% of the time (or more) on this enjoyable mobile system. I can use iTunes, chat on Skype, check Facebook, read/send email, manage my calendar, surf the web, watch video and even play ultra high quality mobile games. ...and still have battery left to read some books. This is worth the investment to me and many others. When I need heavy editing, to render video etc., I go to the Mac/PC to do that. Makes sense.

      It's a matter of the right tool for the right job and it's hitting the sweet spot again and again for so many of us. This is the point of iPad. I don't discredit your point of view, but please don't discredit everyone else's with over simplification/exaggeration of their requirements and decision making (2D life). People are free to choose and they are choosing iPad for the most part. Still, there is plenty of room in the world and computing ecosystem for different needs. We'll just not have the leisure of ignoring or forgetting where many of these innovations we'll come to enjoy in consumer tablets came from. Apple is seldom the first, but they are seldom not the best and they never fail to improve upon their offerings.

      Kindle or Nook-like devices are great if one wants a lighter device and/or the ease of reading under the sun. Otherwise, iPad more than fits the bill for most of us and covers much more ground. I can use iBooks, Kindle, Nook & Bluefire to use library ebooks (when I do choose to read from iPad). Not all, but I say most of us e-reading is a nice feature that most of us will do occasionally and when so mostly under artificial light. Outside of academics, we just tend to read less. Apple's done their homework on that and at this juncture not worth their while to produce a beach friendly reader. Without a doubt, is a market for this need though. My personal experience - this summer I read at the pool with iPad/iPhone with and without sunglasses and with no impossible glare problem. The only real problem I saw is that electronic devices (iPad, Kindle, et al) aren't designed to exist in much sun or near water no matter how good the thermal conditions or design - a problem paper didn't have as much of. Pros and cons to every tool and to each their own. Now guess how many people are going to decide the relevance of each function and choose their equipment/tools choices accordingly and of those, how many will choose iPad?

      In summary, that is the point. :-)

      One more point. Matthew Miller said "...may be the best universal ebook reader..." - emphasis on universal.
  • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

    Its not that it didn't have e-books available, its the shiny screen. What good is using an iPad for an e-reader if you can only use it inside the house? Try taking it outside and reading in the sun on the deck, ain't happening bud.
    • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

      @Goldie07 Yes, and everyone knows you're trickytom3, you've been posting the same garbage for months now, you just changed your name.

      Thanks for playing.
    • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader


      Hi TrickyTom/Goldie. It's amazing all of these avid readers from the great outdoors all of a sudden? LOL. They seem everywhere recently, or at least since the iPad came out. Can't tell you the last time I saw people reading more-so indoors than out. Paper books never got this much earth lovin' and fresh air. Apple should be thanked for promoting naturalist literacy single-handedly as a convenient counterpoint to be used as a flame war stick in the mud. I just love these adventurists. Thoreaus all! Reminds me of the Victorian era academia and move toward existentialism. Flippin hippies. ;-)

      Well for outside verbivores, paper and ink is the best technology for reading thus far. Even e-ink readers will reach their melting point (literally) under certain sunny conditions. All joking and sarcasm aside, sure there will be extensible hardware offerings (beyond the store-branded offerings) for outdoor e-reading when the market reaches critical mass. Right now, it's just not appealing enough for Apple or another to bring to market for that smaller use margin. Amazon and company only want to sell the content ultimately and exclusive hardware/software + portable software store offerings that are light and cheap (or free) are the best way to go to extend their platform for now. When no one values their hardware (not hard to imagine) and cheaper, better multi platform / multi condition / multi purpose readers appear we'll see them focus solely on the content. The outdoor experience is just a nice effect of the cheap e-ink displays and product distinction against iPad, etc. If they could put out an iPad display for the same cost as today's hardware Kindle, they'd tell you to open a window and go read inside, because they know how most people will consume the content to ultimately move the products. All this will morph into a clear path within 2-3 years easily and it won't make sense to offer the single purpose readers unless they're essentially disposable and store/platform agnostic. For now though, let's not pretend it's a huge advantage because most of us don't read and those of us that do (mostly) don't care that much. Sure it's a pro for e-ink, but not enough to drive hardware gold.
  • Real readers demand e-ink

    If you read a lot of ebooks, that is you are a voracious reader not a casual reader, then this debate is nonsense. E-ink and small light form factor with battery life running into weeks verses a heavy device with a bright display burning into your retina for hours at a time.

    The only ones who could argue against e-ink are the ones who do not read much or only use it to look up things in manuals.

    Reading outside is a minor plus, but reading inside without the glare is the big difference. Read three books in a week using each device. With one you will have a sore arm and spots before your eyes and the other is just like reading a paperback.
  • RE: The iPad may be the best universal ebook reader thanks to Bluefire Reader

    Really nice write up. Hadn't heard of Bluefire Reader. It's my next "must download." Thanks, Matt!