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Old 02-19-2019, 09:07 PM   #1
wjBLqf-_9
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Suggestions: Windows software reader opds ebook reader/library?

Can anyone recommend any windows software that is an ebook reader (epub,txt,cbz)?

I am used to Android running FBReader + Calibre Connection

I came into a fabulous fire sale on off lease HP Elitebook tablets.

It seems fabulous! Except Nobody has anything for windows that holds a candle to Android/FBReader+CalibreConnection

Even FBReader (for windows) is nothing like Android

I love that (android) FBReader:
- has a database
- uses the database to organize bookmarks across local library
- connects to my calibre server via opds
- You "check out" copies of books over wifi(opds) and they download to your devices local FBReader library.
- when you're not in range of WiFi (and opds is unavailable) you have your local library copy.

*I'm*shocked* nobody has something like this for Windows

I realize I could install Calibre (full metal jacket) and keep a sync'd copy of the library. But thats not the point. I like that kindle/ibooks apps are read only bookshelves. It is plain simple. but useful.

Heck! Windows 10 Edge browser keeps trying to open all "ebook" file formats. Even when I change 'default apps' this comes back sometimes. (its windows 10 and never a finished product). And I have no idea where Edge stores it ebook files.

The only alternative path I am working on is scripting Windows 10 to only use FBReader for the supported file types. If this were straightened out I could always resort to using the calibre web server interface. I still think a collection of files downloaded from the web browser ... it a last resort.
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:40 AM   #2
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I like Freda. I use the ad free Freda+.
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Old 02-21-2019, 01:18 PM   #3
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Apache: yes I like what I read about Freda!

Unfortunately it is only available from the Microsoft Store... which requires a Microsoft account and all that jazzz. I'm not ready for that, yet.

FWIW: I am surprised that the developer would restrict themselves to "only-through-the-Microsoft-Store". Surprises me because Microsoft's AppStore didn't do so well the last time for their phone... the only advantage it has has now is Microsoft has forced WinX upgrade on so many people.
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Old 02-21-2019, 02:13 PM   #4
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I did not know it was not available elsewhere.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjBLqf-_9 View Post
Apache: yes I like what I read about Freda!

Unfortunately it is only available from the Microsoft Store... which requires a Microsoft account and all that jazzz. I'm not ready for that, yet.

FWIW: I am surprised that the developer would restrict themselves to "only-through-the-Microsoft-Store". Surprises me because Microsoft's AppStore didn't do so well the last time for their phone... the only advantage it has has now is Microsoft has forced WinX upgrade on so many people.
Freda was originally created for Windows phone.

Besides, standalone reading apps are pretty niche already on mobile platforms. I imagine it's more so on desktop. There's probably additional overhead cost if the developer offers ad-free versions for sale on their own site and it's somewhat doubtful that additional sales from offering it on the desktop platform will be enough to offset that additional overhead.
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by wjBLqf-_9 View Post
Apache: yes I like what I read about Freda!

Unfortunately it is only available from the Microsoft Store... which requires a Microsoft account and all that jazzz. I'm not ready for that, yet.

FWIW: I am surprised that the developer would restrict themselves to "only-through-the-Microsoft-Store". Surprises me because Microsoft's AppStore didn't do so well the last time for their phone... the only advantage it has has now is Microsoft has forced WinX upgrade on so many people.
Microsoft considers using their store a security feature. Some of their OS devices require only store apps and won't load anything else.
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:20 PM   #7
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(disclaimer: I am the developer of the Freda app)

Freda is designed to be installed from the Store, and installing it any other way is not something I can support or recommend. There is not really any good way to distribute UWP apps (like Freda) outside the Store. It is technically possible to install this type of app package directly on a PC, without going through the Store, but to do it you may need to click 'OK' on a whole series of alarming warnings from Microsoft Windows (Warning: this app was probably produced by criminals! Do you want to give these criminals permission to steal all your data and wipe your hard drive? Click "Yes, I am a gullible fool" if you wish to continue with this crazy course of action). If I officially published a Freda app file for people to use this way, I would end up having to deal with all kinds of complex questions, and quite possibly legal challenges from anyone whose PC stopped working some time after they installed Freda on it.

If you really want to install Freda outside of the Store, the procedure is:
1) Put your machine into developer mode, and change its security settings to allow the side-loading of unapproved/un-signed application files (APPX files)
2) Find a copy of the Freda APPX file, and put it somewhere on your PC
3) Double-click on the file, and every time Windows shows you an alarming warning, say "go ahead"
4) Freda will now appear, just like any other app, on your launcher menu

If you search the internet (or even ask me nicely) you can get a copy of Freda's APPX file.

But please be aware that those Microsoft warnings are there for a reason. The Store infrastructure does protect you from apps behaving badly (whether because of malicious intent, or because of a bug), and by side-loading an app, you're losing all those protections. Also, the side-loading procedure can fail in various ways that might can leave your PC in a bad state (it's only happened to me once, but it took me hours to fix, and it involved using various developer knowledge-resources and tools).

Last edited by Jim Chapman; 02-24-2019 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 02-23-2019, 06:54 PM   #8
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Having tried a lot of the alternatives recently on Windows 10, I (somewhat reluctantly) came to these conclusions:

1. From a usability perspective only (polished bug-free UI, good navigation and reading features, etc.), I'm not aware of better Windows desktop ereader software than...
- Kindle for PC (much as I hate saying it--I don't like Amazon's anti-open practices)
- Freda+

2. Other ones I've tried on Windows, but were not as good as these:
-Adobe Digital Editions. Blech. Reliable, can sideload local books, and create collections, but very limited features. The Kobo app is more of the same, but even more limited and locked down to Kobo books if you want to use the full feature set.
-Bibliovore (from Windows store--ok, but I liked Freda better)
-Bookviser (from Windows store--ok, but I liked Freda better)

3. Browser-based options. Have you considered this? If you're wanting to work with a single open file format like epub--then I'd suggest using Google Play Books, manage your epub files in Calibre, but sideload/upload your Calibre-managed epub files for free into your Google account. You get a beautiful, browser-based UI for reading, great reading and nav features, very good epub rendering (though: no ability to tweak CSS or style beyond very basic settings). You can also install the Android or iOS apps and sync the books on your phone/tablet. In this case, your "Windows reader" is simpler whatever browser you prefer to use. Of course, if you're not wanting to register/login to anyone's website as your OP implies, then I assume you don't have a gmail account either, and that would be required for this option.

4. Hosting your own server solution. Your OP implies you're willing to consider this. I haven't tried this option, but I'd sure consider doing it. It would give you what you want, and looks very slick, it's a complete ebook web hosting solution built by @geek101 who's a member here on Mobileread. https://pgaskin.net/BookBrowser/


Of all these, no offense meant to Jim :-), but I find the Freda+ app while one of the 2 best AVAILABLE Windows desktop apps for ebook reading, its UI to me is rather non-standard for Windows UI design, and is often quite complex or counter-intuitive at some points, so it will take a lot of getting used to. That said, when you dig into it, it *is* really powerful and lets you really tweak the styling in a given book, as well as organize your library. It's also super flexible to let you access content from all over the place, and it's well integrated with Onedrive, which many readers are not. One thing I found particularly frustrating about Freda is its UI and handling of annotations. It's very convoluted to take a note: first you have to create a bookmark, then you edit the bookmark and you get this tiny little textbox about an inch wide to write your entire note for the selected passage. Also it's not clear in the UI and there was no documentation as to how you even get to the point to take a note--I literally had to contact Jim in the user forum to find out how to take a reading note. If that UI for annotations were improved a bit, I could probably switch to Freda and invest the effort to get used to its complex UI. But for now, I use Kindle (for Amazon books) or Google Play via browser (for all epub books). They give me 100% coverage of all the book formats I own, very rich navigation and reading features, and low friction to figure out how to use, take notes, etc.

Last edited by maximus83; 02-23-2019 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:49 PM   #9
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Thinking on this a little more: say that you try Freda+ and like it.

Why not try the solution of...
* Run the Calibre server locally, same machine
* Use the feature in Freda that lets you connect to an OPDS server, and just take advantage of the metadata and book management scheme that you already created in Calibre? Freda can do that. Or if that doesn't work for some reason, Freda can also point to a website, which in this case would just be your Calibre server address.

One other misc thing: you don't have to 'script' file format association on Windows 10. Just go into the Default Apps settings, and near the bottom, there's an option "Choose default apps by file type." You can flip EPUB in there to use FB, Freda, or whatever you want. I just double-checked--mine shows Edge as the system default for Epub. But when I click it, all the other apps that can read Epub on my system, including Freda, pop up as options to set as the default.
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Old 02-24-2019, 12:34 PM   #10
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I have a Surface Pro and this is what I do. I have epubs set to open with Freda+. When I click on a book in my Calibre library it opens in Freda+.
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Old 02-24-2019, 01:55 PM   #11
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I have calibre running on my windows 7 laptop. Can I also run it on my Surface Pro running windows 10?...meaning that I would have calibre on both machines. Or would that cause a problem?? I have Freda on my Surface Pro.
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Old 02-24-2019, 02:28 PM   #12
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I have a Surface Pro and this is what I do. I have epubs set to open with Freda+. When I click on a book in my Calibre library it opens in Freda+.
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Do you try to use the Calibre OPDS connection to connect to it from within the Freda app on the same machine? I tried the loopback local address (127.0.0.1:8080), the local IP address, etc, on the local machine. I could get a browser to connect to Calibre locally and load up a reading view of my ebook library, but Freda couldn't connect locally even if I opened up for the Calibre main app and the web server executables in my firewall.

Or, do you browse within Calibre itself, open the containing folder, and click on the book to open it with Freda? I can make that work. I don't see a way to switch the default epub viewer within Calibre to something outside of Calibre's own viewer.
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:36 PM   #13
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Or, do you browse within Calibre itself, open the containing folder, and click on the book to open it with Freda? I can make that work. I don't see a way to switch the default epub viewer within Calibre to something outside of Calibre's own viewer.
Firstly, set up your desired app to be the Windows default app for opening ePub files (ie so when you double click an ePub file it opens in that app). Next, in Calibre, select Preferences → Interface → Behavior and tell Calibre NOT to use its internal viewer for ePub files. It will then display ePub using the operating system default.
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:41 PM   #14
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...I don't see a way to switch the default epub viewer within Calibre to something outside of Calibre's own viewer.
It's a two step process. Calibre isn't able to specify what external app to use. You need to:
  1. On the Preferences>Behavior panel in calibre, uncheck ePub in the sections labled "Use internal viewer for:". Calibre will now simply pass the Open requests to the OS for it to deal with finding an app.
  2. Set your OS to use Freda as the default viewer for ePub format. On Windows you can right-click on an ePub file, select "Open with", select "choose another app", select Freda, check the "Always use..." checkbox and then click OK. On macOS you use the Get Info box to perform the same chore.

Personally, I prefer to export from Calibre using its Save to Disk function, saving to a folder I've created for the purpose, and then, in Freda, import the books from that folder. I leave calibre set to use its internal viewer and leave Edge set as the Windows OS default.

Last edited by dwig; 02-24-2019 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 02-24-2019, 06:07 PM   #15
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That's the ticket--thank you both, I had actually looked at that dialog in Preferences earlier, wondering if there was a way to set what reading app would open, and I overlooked it.

Doing this seems like a more efficient way to run Calibre locally to manage books and pop it open on your preferred reader (as opposed to running the OPDS server and trying to access it locally).
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