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Old 07-08-2013, 03:16 AM   #1
seanos
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Best ePub reading app for layout?

I've looked at lots of lists of "best" Android readers, but most of them are pretty vague or seem focussed on features that aren't important to me. I'm curious about what the mavens of Mobileread have to say about their performance with more...ahem...challenging ePub formatting.

What I have in mind is things like the mouse's tale/tail in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or drop caps, text flow around images and consistent image sizing (Treasure Island, Three Men in a Boat, Desbarollda, The Waltzing Mouse).

All the readers I've tried (Aldiko, CoolReader, FBReader, Kobo, Moon) seem to do a poor job of this except Google Play Books. A pity that it's so inconvenient to use in most other ways!

So does anyone have suggestions for contenders in the layout stakes?

My other criteria:
  • night mode (or customisable themes where you can set background & text colour)
  • simply load files from a folder (I don't need to import into some unintelligible labyrinth of folders or keep multiple copies of books)
  • control over author/user CSS & fonts
  • sensible use of the BACK button semantics

Irrelevant to me:
  • fancy bookshelves
  • page turning animations (wasted CPU cycles at best, irritating and distracting at worst)

My most used reader of late is CoolReader, but FBReader has a lot going for it too.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:07 AM   #2
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Seanos, I can't give you any recommendations, as I'm fairly new to the Android world. But I would like to say that I completely agree with your criteria. Fancy bookshelves (especially carousels) and page-turning animations are fairly useless, in contrast to a Back button that does what you would intuitively expect.

I look forward to seeing what others recommend.

Mike
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Old 07-08-2013, 01:52 PM   #3
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Well you could have a look at Mantano.

I use it and it has extensive options to format the book as you please, including fonts. It also has a night mode and theme support (you can use one of the two provided or make your own). It's also very good at presenting the book how it is supposed to be, they've done a good job at implementing the epub spec.

It does have a library - which I find to be very useful, but you don't have to use it as there is its explorer option that allows you to browse your device. BTW, if you do import them, it doesn't move or copy your books, it leaves them where they are and just creates a database of your books based on their location.

It also has page turning animations, but they can be turned off.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:28 PM   #4
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I favor Mantano, too.

Granted: I'm not really interested in the ability to recreate exact replica's of fancy print-books electronically. Most stuff I read is text-only anyway.

It's based on Adobe's RMSDK like many others. I do like that Mantano's reader doesn't seem to go out of its way to thwart the spirit of the ebook creator's intent concerning layout, like others seem wont to do.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:33 AM   #5
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Another vote for Mantano I haven't found another option I like apart from Fabrik, Mantano is the better of the two though.
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknikal View Post
Another vote for Mantano I haven't found another option I like apart from Fabrik, Mantano is the better of the two though.
I don't have enough experience of either of them to comment on that, except to say that I see Fabrik supports several more ebook formats than Mantano. The fact that it supports mobi would be a plus for me personally (although it wasn't on the original questioner's criteria list.)

Mike
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:53 PM   #7
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I have Aldiko on my Nexus 7 and have been pretty happy with it--but sounds like I should give Mantano a look-see.
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:20 PM   #8
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In addition to the features already mentioned, two more things that sold me on Mantano are the night mode for PDFs and the ability to nest categories instead of just using tags (so I can have "nonfiction->biography->presidents", for example). The categories can then be collapsed at each level (so I can see just "fiction" and "nonfiction" at the top level if I want). If it did mobi, I wouldn't need any other reader software.
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:32 PM   #9
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Another Mantano fan here. I also use calibre (see other subforum here) so I can easily convert books to epub if needed. And I don't have to convert pdfs, because Mantano can read both epub and pdf.

And Mantano also has a great browser to allow you to find books, in many ways, and supports calibre style tags. Almost as good as calibre.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:35 PM   #10
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Mantano for me as well. I like the way you can double-tap on an image to zoom and easily rotate it if necessary.
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Old 07-14-2013, 05:50 AM   #11
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Mantano

I was struck with the lurgi this week, so I haven't been able to get back to this until today.

I did have a look at Mantano and it does reproduce my test books faithfully. I haven't been able to find a lot of the other features that people mentioned though, so they're either only available in the paid version or they're not very discoverable.

I found no mention of fonts at all, for example, and I can't seem to do anything at all with images, let alone rotate them.

It's disappointing that Mantano can't incorporate basic information like page number/% progress without it overlaying the text. Similarly the bookmark area in the top right is a neat idea for accessibility, but intrusive.

Swipe up/down to change font-size is all very well, but I often activate it when changing page. I usually don't need to change font-size that often!

One other thing I've noticed is that in an epub I've been editing, an image with a border and a caption inside a div set to page-break-inside: avoid is zoomed in such a way that most of the border disappears and the caption is shunted onto a new page. It works in ADE, but not Mantano.

The lack of a concept of "Recent books" makes Mantano seem a little wooden to me. It could also do with some more hierarchy in its lists - e.g. alphabetical divisions. Scrolling through hundreds of books is tedious work compared tapping a letter to cut down the list.

Mantano's night mode is very clever (reversing out images as well), but it doesn't work for me. I'm used to CoolReader's night mode (which is really more like a theme) where you can choose the colours. Bright white text on a black background is just painful when reading in the dark. Since I do a reasonable amount of reading in bed, this is a killer for me.

Well, after that set of rambling complaints, if I get time I'll edit my first post to include a more systematic survey of what works and doesn't in different readers.
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Old 07-14-2013, 08:26 AM   #12
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seanos, unfortunately, most of the advanced options for Mantano are available only in the paid versions. On Google Play they list what is available with each version. But I can confirm:
  • You can install your own fonts easily. Once installed, you apply them through the themes.
  • You can use any colors for the background and text you want when creating themes. So you can create your own night mode theme and are not stuck with a stark white-on-black theme.
  • You can deactivate the change in font size when swiping up and down.
  • You can tap on the images and then pinch and zoom to expand them. You can also rotate them.
  • In the library view there is an option to view recently added books OR recently read books.

I think some of these features are available in the free version as well. You just need to explore the interface a little more. But as I said, look at Google Play -- or go to Mantano's website -- to see what is available in each version.

I agree that it would be nice if Mantano had a static page indicator (as well as time and battery percentage indicator) at the bottom of the page. But I compared all the available readers and found that Mantano had the most features that I wanted. It wasn't even close. It didn't have everything I was looking for, but it had the most. I did have to pay for the premium version, however. But I figured since it's a one-time fee and I would use the reader a lot, it would be well worth it.

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Old 07-14-2013, 12:17 PM   #13
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I agree that it would be nice if Mantano had a static page indicator (as well as time and battery percentage indicator) at the bottom of the page.
Maybe I'm not following what you mean by "static page indicator," but I've always had the ability to continually display the page indicator at the bottom of the page in the premium version of Mantano. I always keep it turned off 'cause I don't want to see it, bit still... when I turn it on, there it sits (ex. 200/319). On every "page." What am I missing?

Also, if I turn off "Fullscreen Reading" the native time and battery indicators for my device are always on display (at the top rather than at the bottom) in the status bar. But I don't like that either, so I leave Fullscreen Reading on.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 07-14-2013 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:48 PM   #14
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DiapDealer, you are right about the static page numbers. But what I am really looking for and wish Mantano had is a static time and battery percentage readout. Moon+ and other readers have this. I put in a formal request for these enhancements to the developers of Mantano, so hopefully they will consider it.

As for turning off fullscreen reading mode, that doesn't work on my Nook HD (with the stock firmware). The bar which usually shows the time and other information just shows up as solid black. At any rate, like you, I much prefer full screen mode anyway.

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Old 07-14-2013, 01:31 PM   #15
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As for turning off fullscreen reading mode, that doesn't work on my Nook HD (with the stock firmware). The bar which usually shows the time and other information just shows up as solid black.
Oh, it's the same on my Kindle Fire: black status at the top, and black menu at the bottom.

Quote:
But what I am really looking for and wish Mantano had is a static time and battery percentage readout. Moon+ and other readers have this. I put in a formal request for these enhancements to the developers of Mantano, so hopefully they will consider it.
As long as there's an option to toggle it on/off, I hope you get your wish!

Last edited by DiapDealer; 07-14-2013 at 01:34 PM.
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