Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bookle, an EPUB reader for Mac

TidBITS and Peter Lewis have teamed up to fill an aching void in ebookland: an EPUB reader for the Mac—not the iPad, but the Mac. It's called Bookle, and it's really nice. You drag your DRM-free EPUB files to the Dock icon to load them into Bookle, and then start reading. Navigation is particularly fine with a trackpad, where you can swipe from chapter to chapter, and then scroll up and down for the contents of each.

I think what I love so much about the swiping is that it is almost like leafing through a print book. It feels right.

What Catalans Want

I can see Bookle being particularly helpful for proofreading ebooks before they're published since it's based on the same WebKit that iBooks is. The only significant differences I found between Bookle's representation of my books and iBooks' was that Bookle doesn't shrink images to fit the viewport, like iBooks does. That said, I haven't done enough tests to illustrate that point conclusively, but I have noticed it with covers, for example.

From InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle

It doesn't do Fixed Layout (at least not properly), and it doesn't have Search, and you can't write notes or add Bookmarks, but given the fact that Apple may release their own desktop ereader app at any moment, I was impressed that they did all they could. You can vote for your preferred additions on Bookle UserVoice Forum.


  1. How does _Barcelona_Beyond_Gaudi_ look? I'm dying to show it to my choir director, and I only have an old MacBook.

    1. Pretty bad, unfortunately. You can only see half a spread at a time. The Javascript works though!

  2. I guess Bookle doesn't read EPUB not DRM free....so is not so useful and 9.99 is expansive only for those EPUB! If I have a Mac probably I buy a lot of ebook from iTunes, so Bookle doesn't help me.

  3. I'm encouraged to see that after nearly two years of nothing from Apple (the iBookstore dates to 3/31/10) you have reason to believe that they may release a desktop ereader "at any moment". Want to start a pool? Personally I think we will have to wait until iMac's come with trackpads...

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Liz! Yes, Bookle is intentionally simple at the moment, since we wanted to get something out quickly for people start using now, and so we could react to the features people want most. (Keep all the suggestions and votes on the Bookle UserVoice forum coming, folks!)

    @Anonymous - Bookle can read only DRM-free EPUBs, but please point the finger of blame where it belongs in that regard: the publishers and resellers who use DRM. They won't license the code either at all (Apple) or for less than six figures (Adobe), which basically means that they're using DRM for anti-competitive reasons as much as anything else.

  5. There is another EPUB reader, with a version for each platform. It's called simply "Reader" and it's by Sony. It's designed to lead you to their bookstore somewhat, but you can decline and then import any of your own DRM-free EPUB's (or any that you have on your Sony device) and read them. It has a one- or two-page mode, and you can do searches, add commented bookmarks, highlight text, navigate from the Table of Contents, and change the font size. There's even a "History" button that shows you a list of, and will take you to, a previously-read page, which can be great for textbooks or other non-fiction or technical reading where you may jump around a lot and then forget where you saw something that you suddenly need. Check it out at http://ebookstore.sony.com/download/

  6. I'd also recommend checking out Murasaki, an ePub reader available via the Mac App Store. It's half the price of Bookle and has some very nice, refined features.


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