Monday, March 18, 2013

eReader Review: Marvin for iPad

Marvin for iPad

This is the third in my series of eReader reviews. I first reviewed Amazon’s Kindle app, then the Bluefire app. Both are good apps, with strengths and weaknesses. The Kindle app is necessary if you want to read MOBI books on your mobile device and the Bluefire app will read eBooks locked with DRM (provided you open a free account with Adobe).

The last eReader app I’ll review is my newest: Marvin. Marvin reads ePub 2.0 eBooks like no other eReader can.

Marvin has too many features to list so I’’ll mention a few of my favorites.

Important Features of Marvin

1) Marvin is fully customizable. Especially important to me are font size, typeface, margin size, line spacing, indentation, hyphenation, and justification controls.

- I like to read paragraphs with a little more space between lines, and Marvin lets me do that.

- I also don’t care for huge paragraph indents; they’re so ugly and interfere with reading.

- There are many typefaces to choose from and you can display titles in different faces than the
text. My favorite text face is Lora while I leave the titles displayed in Open Dyslexic. Although I use Open Dyslexic because I like how it looks, it turns out it helps assist users with dyslexia.

2) There are three fully-customizable themes. I only use two: night and normal. Night mode has a black background, of course, with white letters. In normal mode I like a beige background so I have it set for Old Lace.

3) Marvin lets you export your notes, highlights, name lists, and summaries to formats compatible with most word processors. This is a boon for members of book clubs who discuss what they read in depth and to authors with beta readers. Authors can format their manuscripts in ePub and send them to beta readers. Beta readers can make extensive notes, if they like, which they can email to the author.

4) eBooks can be emailed to friends from within the program. Now authors, before you jump up and down and risk straining a muscle in your buttocks, this is no different than lending a print book to a neighbor, or that woman at work you’’ve been trying to impress.

5) Marvin not only has up-and-down swiping for screen brightness, it also lets you control the warmth of the screen. There are smart-snapping gestures I’ve yet to explore, DropBox linking, a reading timer, multi-colored bookmarks, and it’ll correct incomplete or missing table of contents. Not real important for fiction, in my opinion, but would be useful for non-fiction.

There are many, many more features to Marvin. Check out their website for complete details.

Not Quite Perfect

I have a couple of gripes with Marvin. It lacks a mono-spaced typeface like Courier for those times when I want to read in Courier. I especially like to do this when editing one of my drafts.

When I turn my iPad sideways and two-column reading is initiating, there’’s far too much space between the columns of text. Very visually unappealing. I have to go into the menu to adjust the margins. Kindle handles this much better, leaving just the right amount of space between columns.

Both Marvin and Bluefire read ePubs but only Bluefire will read DRM-encoded eBooks. When I have the choice, I choose Marvin over Bluefire every time.

Marvin is a midget in a land of giants. Most readers buy books from companies with dedicated reading devices or eReader apps. Books purchased from these sites pretty much have to be read on their dedicated devices or apps. You can get around this by connecting your device to your computer and dragging and dropping books here and there, but most people don’t bother.

It’s a shame because Marvin gives a more satisfying reading experience. At least it does to me.

Being in the business of converting manuscripts to ebooks, I like having different apps I can check my work out on. I use them all, even the reading apps on my phone. Gotta be sure my products look good on whatever device my customers’’ readers choose to view their books.

Which reading device or eReader app do you use?

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