- Large ebook selection
- Font type is adjustable
- Note-taking and bookmark functionality
- No in-app purchases
- Some delays when skipping chapters
- eBook store needs improvement
The Barnes & Noble eReader iPhone app (Barnes & Noble, Free) has a large selection of ebooks, but browsing or searching for new titles to add to your collection is a real pain.
The app comes loaded with six free ebooks, including Dracula, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice and Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Dictionary. Barnes & Noble boasts a very large ebook library, approximately one million ebooks in total, but a good chunk of those books are out-of-copyright books available in the public domain. I looked for a random assortment of 30 books at both Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s ebook stores, and Amazon had a slightly better selection of more obscure titles, including short story collections. Both stores had popular new releases and prices were the same for nearly all of them.
Just like the Amazon Kindle app, the Barnes & Noble eReader requires you to sign up for a free account if you don’t have one already. Searching for ebooks is not a very fun process, as you have to switch between the eReader and the iPhone’s built-in Safari browser to complete your purchases. I also got a lot of ‘page cannot be found’ errors when searching. Adding the ability to purchases ebooks directly in the app would improve this iPhone eReader tremendously. If you don’t have a book in mind, browsing for ebooks is even worse. Most of the store isn’t formatted specifically for mobile browsers, so you have to do a lot of pinching and zooming.
Once you buy a book, the experience improves dramatically. The font size can be adjusted, and you can also format margins and spacing. Unlike Amazon’s Kindle app, Barnes & Noble allows you to change the font to one of eight options, including Arial, Courier or Times New Roman. The app remembers where you left off in each book - a must-have for any good ebook app. You can also add bookmarks and notes within the text. The ebooks themselves are formatted nicely, and I never had any problems with weird characters or spacing.
I did encounter several delays when skipping between chapters or sections. In one ebook, the app displayed ‘waiting for page’ for a good two minutes while the chapter loaded. At the App Store, an alarming number of reviewers report problems with the app crashing, but it has never crashed on me.
The Bottom Line
Barnes & Noble’s eReader app is decent, but it feels less polished than its main competitor, Amazon’s Kindle for the iPhone. Like the Kindle app, Barnes & Noble’s version needs in-app purchases and they need to work out some of the kinks in their ebook store. Overall rating: 3 out of 5.
What You’ll Need