Eletronic Publishing, short EPUB, is a free open source ebook standard used by many ebook readers like the Blackberry Playbook, Sonry Reader or Barnes &Noble Nook. The standard succeeded the Open eBook standard back in 2007, and the latest version of the format has been released in 2011 introducing several improvements over previous versions including support for MathML and XHTML5.
If the devices you use do not support the EPUB format natively, you may be interested in adding support for the format to the device. There are three major options to do just that. You can first install an application on the device that functions as a reader for EPUB files, use an online service that you can use to read EPUB books online, or convert the books that you have in EPUB format into another format supported by your device.
If you are working with a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome most of the time, you may be interested in adding support for the EPUB format to the browser you are working with to read ebooks directly online.
PUB Reader (Firefox)
The Firefox extension EPUB Reader is without doubt one of the most popular options when it comes to reading ebooks published in the format in a web browser. It taps right into the download process of ebooks to display them in the web browser right away. The extension supports the loading of local books as well via the browser's file open dialog.
It supports keyboard shortcuts and options like zooming in or out, bookmarking and changing the appearance of the book content and the table of contents. It can't however be used to read DRM protected ebooks.
I have reviewed the EPUB Reader extension for Firefox and suggest you take a look at the in depth review if it is of interest to you.
Readium (Google Chrome)
The Readium extension for the Google Chrome web browser can be used as a epub reader for local and online ebooks. It displays a library view on start listing all ebooks that you have previously added to the extension. It supports the EPUB 3 format.
This section lists applications for desktop operating systems and mobile devices that let you read ebooks in epub format.
Calibre (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Calibre is a cross-platform ebook viewer and converter that can read and convert various document formats including epub. The application can sync contents with various ebook reader devices, download news from the web and convert it into an ebook format or help you manage your library of ebooks.
Adobe Digital Editions (Windows, Macintosh)
Adobe Digital Editions is a free ebook reader and manager for Windows and Macintosh systems. It supports EPUB and PDF/A ebook formats and a variety of other features including page annotations, libraries and moving copy-protected ebooks between devices.
Sumatra PDF (Windows)
Sumatra PDF is a popular portable document reader for the Windows operating system. It is best know for reading pdf documents but supports other formats including EPUB, Mobi, DjVU and CBZ/CBR as well. It is also available as a plugin for various web browsers.
FBReader (Android, older versions for other systems)
This reader for the Android operating system supports a variety of document formats including epub. You can use the built-in library feature to download ebooks to the device, or move ebooks to the Books directory manually so that they are picked up automatically for reading. The Android application is available on the Google Play store, other versions on the FBReader homepage.
The following applications and services allow you to create ebooks in EPUB format.
dotEPUB (Google Chrome, Firefox, bookmarklet)
This application allows you to convert any web page that you open in the web browser into an EPUB or Kindle ebook. It is available as a Firefox add-on and Google Chrome extension, and as a bookmarklet for other web browsers. You can read my previous dotEPUB review here.
Sigil The EPUB Editor (Windows, Mac, Linux)
This is a multi-platform open source WYSIWYG editor that is supporting the full EPUB 2 specifications. Sigil is a versatile application that can not only be used to create new epub books but also to load, edit and read existing books. It supports styles, regular expressions, spell checking, epub validation and more. You can read my previous review of the application by following this link: Create Your Epub Ebooks with Sigil Ebook Editor
GrabMyBooks is a Firefox extension that enables you to create an epub or mobi file for your ebook reader from website or feed contents. Features include creating an ebook out of all open tabs and a basic editor that you can use to edit the book before you transfer it to a reader app. Here is the GrabMyBooks review from 2011.
This is an online service that can turn various document input formats, including docx, pdf, txt, rtf or html into five output ebook formats of which one is EPUB. It supports up to five files per operation that can't exceed 25 Megabytes in size. To convert the documents, simply upload them from your local computer or device, or paste urls in instead if the documents are available online.
You are probably wondering which application or service is best suited for your needs. That's not that easy to answer as I'm not aware of your requirements. Do you read ebooks on your desktop computer or a mobile device? For desktop computers, you have the option to pick a browser extension or a program instead. Readium for Google Chrome looks pretty good, especially since it is supporting EPUB 3 which not all of the other programs do. Then again, if you only have EPUB 2 format ebooks you do not necessarily need support for version 3 just yet.
My suggestion would be to start out with a portable application like Sumatra PDF, unless you need ebook management as well which it does not offer.
I'd like to grow this article over time with the help of your suggestions. Which epub reader are you using and why? I'm particularly interested in mobile readers as there are so many to choose from.
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