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Old 01-29-2019, 12:24 PM   #1
maximus83
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Reader app that respects publisher CSS

Has anyone found an Android reader app that will respect the publisher CSS, similar to how the Calibre built-in reader does on PC?

I normally use Moon+ reader, and it's great. I've also tried nearly all the other leading android readers (to name a few: FB Reader, CoolReader, Presitigio, Readera, Aldiko, Mandano, etc.). However, I have a few books that have tricky layout and CSS. These books render perfectly fine on apps that don't do much messing with the CSS: 3 examples are the Calibre built-in reader, Adobe Digital editions for PC, and the Google Play Books reader. But on 100% of the Android reader apps, they will mangle or at least seriously rearrange the layout of the pages in ways that are deterimental. I've tried simple in-app CSS tweaks, to no avail. What I'm looking for is a simple android reader app that leaves the publisher CSS alone.

ETA: I know that Moon+ has "publisher preview" button to show you the publisher's rendering. Strangely enough, that works perfectly but is read/view-ONLY. It only shows what it WOULD look like, but you lose all the functionality of the reader app so it's not useful beyond showing you what the content would look like if the reader weren't messing with it. I actually pinged the developer once and asked if they could just enable a setting to "render content per publisher" but otherwise leave all reader functionality enabled. He agreed that'd be useful but it's never happened, so I assume not much demand for that.

Last edited by maximus83; 01-29-2019 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 01-29-2019, 02:50 PM   #2
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My 2 go-to Android epub apps, which are good with CSS, are Bookari (formerly known as Mantano) and Pocketbook (by Obreey Products).

Bookari has 2 different renderers available if you want to use an EPUB3 renderer for EPUB3s. As you said you've already tried this one I'm wondering what CSS didn't work for you? It's pretty easy to use but some of the bells & whistles are only in the premium version.

Pocketbook is not quite as easy to use because some of its features are not as easily discoverable (e.g. custom tap zones). However, all its premium features are included in the free version, so it's hard to complain about that. It also has 2 different renderers available - one is Adobe-based the other Webkit-based - so you get 2 chances to see whether a particular book's CSS displays as you expect.
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:55 PM   #3
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You are spot on, both apps render complex layouts correctly.

Definitely, the Pocketbook UI is a bit, er, complex. But it handles the CSS nicely and renders per publisher layout.

(ETA: inline fixed an error in details)

On Bookari, when I selected the "Webkit" rendering--it solves the issue immediately. Apparently the Adobe rendering is engine is the culprit. Related item, I had used an old Mantano version from several years ago, and I had the paid version at the time. Bookari doesn't seem to recognize that, oh well.

Have you figured out how to get either app to render in-page footnotes in a popup screen (versus navigating to some footnote page, then having to click some kind of back navigation to return to reading position)?

Last edited by maximus83; 01-29-2019 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by maximus83 View Post
Have you figured out how to get either app to render in-page footnotes in a popup screen (versus navigating to some footnote page, then having to click some kind of back navigation to return to reading position)?
Yes, I'd cheat by reading it as a kepub on my Kobo eink devices

... but assuming you mean in Android ...

I haven't actually tested this but the first experiment I'd try is to make sure the epub was epub3 then try coding the footnotes using pairings of
Code:
<a epub:type="noteref" ...>
<aside epub:type="footnote" ...>
Then I'd see how it looked in Bookari's epub3 renderer.

I think there are other epub3 Android reading apps out there. Maybe someone who's actually used them will drop by and offer their thoughts.

ETA: Try the Gitden reading app if using epub3 footnotes. I think that will work.

Last edited by jackie_w; 01-29-2019 at 05:31 PM. Reason: ETA
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Old 02-02-2019, 01:28 PM   #5
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So, circling back on this, I did some more research, tried a bunch of apps and the most recent versions (some of the ones I tried were 2 or 3 years ago, which in device development that is like 10 years).

Here are all the ones I can find, including the ones @jackie_w listed, that will respect the published CSS of complex layouts on the first try, without any messing with settings, and also have some kind of synchronized note-taking system that lets you capture and export notes, and sync across devices:

* Kindle app
* Google play
* Kobo app
* Bookari app
* Pocketbook app
* FB Reader

This one was a surprise. I had tried this as recently as last year, and at that time it still didn't work. FB Reader is *really* coming on strong. They not only render all my complex books perfectly, they also do a great job of rendering footnotes, and give you settings to control that. They have a web-based sync where you can see and edit the metadata of your FB reader books, and they have a note-capturing system that syncs to Google Drive so you can retain control of your books and your notes. Interestingly, they've added cross-platform support so you can now run FB Reader on ios as well as android. In their roadmap, they play to add support for mac/linux/windows, so they are truly going for the universal solution.

Last edited by maximus83; 02-02-2019 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 07:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackie_w View Post

Pocketbook is not quite as easy to use because some of its features are not as easily discoverable (e.g. custom tap zones). However, all its premium features are included in the free version, so it's hard to complain about that. It also has 2 different renderers available - one is Adobe-based the other Webkit-based - so you get 2 chances to see whether a particular book's CSS displays as you expect.
Ok, I tried Pocketbook and really love it but it is definitely complicated! The custom tap zones that you talk about - could you tell me how to get to them? I have been able to put everything else the way I like it and that is the only thing I want to change and can't. Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-10-2019, 08:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Ok, I tried Pocketbook and really love it but it is definitely complicated! The custom tap zones that you talk about - could you tell me how to get to them? I have been able to put everything else the way I like it and that is the only thing I want to change and can't. Thanks for your help!
  1. Tap to get 1st circular menu - select 3 vertical dots segment.
  2. From 2nd circular menu select cogwheel segment.
  3. From next 'normal' menu select 'Areas Configuration'.
  4. It's mainly guesswork from here on but select the 'Base Taps' radio button.
  5. You'll see a grid divided into tap zones. Tap on any of the outlined zones (it will turn bright pink). In the top right gesture list you can see what actions are currently assigned to this zone for several different gestures (single-tap, double-tap, swipe-right etc.) If you tap the currently-assigned action you'll get a list of all the other actions you can assign. The list is huge!
  6. The 3 vertical dot menu at top right now gives you options for this pink zone (e.g. 'delete area'). The 'Set commands' menu item lets you switch between the various gestures so that you can apply several actions to the same tap zone. I only use the single-tap gesture myself so you'll need to do your own experiments.
  7. Also, whilst the zone is displayed in pink, you can reshape/resize it by tapping one edge then dragging it into a new shape.
Good luck figuring it all out. It may keep you busy for a while

Last edited by jackie_w; 02-10-2019 at 08:52 PM. Reason: correction to item 3.
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmom03 View Post
Ok, I tried Pocketbook and really love it but it is definitely complicated! The custom tap zones that you talk about - could you tell me how to get to them? I have been able to put everything else the way I like it and that is the only thing I want to change and can't. Thanks for your help!
I use Pocketbook and its menu structure sure takes some getting used to but I found after persevering with it the menu is much quicker to use that than a conventional menu. I also have Moon+ Reader Pro but much prefer Pocketbook (once I sorted out how the menu works ) which seems to be faster and handle pdfs better. If there is someone to show you the basics of it and what you can do to get context menu, etc. set up it is helpful - I went through it with our daughter and she caught on to the basics straight away.

I found setting up new gestures to be a bit problematical (I think there is a language barrier in the translations that result in, for me, a confusing use of the terms "screens" and "sheets") but after much playing around I got what I wanted - as jackie_w said, it will keep you busy for a while . It is slightly clearer after the very recent update (a week or two ago).
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackie_w View Post
  1. Tap to get 1st circular menu - select 3 vertical dots segment.
  2. From 2nd circular menu select cogwheel segment.
  3. From next 'normal' menu select 'Areas Configuration'.
  4. It's mainly guesswork from here on but select the 'Base Taps' radio button.
  5. You'll see a grid divided into tap zones. Tap on any of the outlined zones (it will turn bright pink). In the top right gesture list you can see what actions are currently assigned to this zone for several different gestures (single-tap, double-tap, swipe-right etc.) If you tap the currently-assigned action you'll get a list of all the other actions you can assign. The list is huge!
  6. The 3 vertical dot menu at top right now gives you options for this pink zone (e.g. 'delete area'). The 'Set commands' menu item lets you switch between the various gestures so that you can apply several actions to the same tap zone. I only use the single-tap gesture myself so you'll need to do your own experiments.
  7. Also, whilst the zone is displayed in pink, you can reshape/resize it by tapping one edge then dragging it into a new shape.
Good luck figuring it all out. It may keep you busy for a while
Wow! I would have never figured that out.
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:59 PM   #10
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I have not found a way to make PocketBook to respect 'text-align: center'. All my centered texts and images are on left. At least it resizes overlarge images to fit the screen width.

What I want, is to put 3000x2000 (well, BIG) map into a book, have it fit the screen (without distortion, I can turn the phone sideways), then when I need to see details, tap the map to 1:1 zoom and pan around it. At the moment the tap-and-zoom works pretty well, tho I have not tested it with really big images.

But it bugs me (occasionally) that all headers and logos are on the left.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:02 PM   #11
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I have not found a way to make PocketBook to respect 'text-align: center'. All my centered texts and images are on left. At least it resizes overlarge images to fit the screen width...
I've used PocketBook on 4 or 5 different tablets and phones and never known it to not respect "text-align: center;". I am also unaware of any setting in PocketBook which may have disabled it from that correct default behavior.

Does it happen for books purchased, or books that you have built yourself or have converted from other formats?
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:11 AM   #12
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Happens to every single book (epub, probably 2), and IIRC also right alignment is nullified. I'm quite sure that all alignment is discarded. I have set the app preferences to have paragraphs justified, but it shouldn't epub's own css take precedence?

Tried same book in CoolReader & AReader -- both show captions and headings and images in center. AReader also zooms the image to 100%, PB-s zoom is smaller, and sort of rubbery -- I stretch the img out and it shrinks slowly back in 1-2 seconds. I thought that zoomed image is so small because phone screen has more pixels.

I've been meaning to clobber together a test ebook with different fonts and styling...
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:24 PM   #13
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