Embracing the New Format: 7 Apps To Buy, Read and Convert eBooks

Have you ever heard anybody say that paper outlets, like newspapers, magazines and books, will soon be extinct? While we have seen some newspapers and magazines move to digital services, it’s still hard to imagine a world without paper books. However, this has partly become a reality with devices like the Kindle and the iPad.

The advantages of eBooks are hard to overlook. They take much less physical space, they are cheaper, and they offer more features and interaction, like the “popular highlights” feature on Kindle devices.

Have you made the move yet? I have owned a Kindle for a few months now and I have come to love the little device. Whatever device you use, you’ll need some sort of app on your Mac to buy and interact with these eBooks. Here are some of our recommendations.


The Kindle App for Mac

The official Kindle app for Mac is more of a manager for your Kindle books, but it also lets you read the books you buy. A great feature it has is that it syncs everything in between all the Kindle apps (like the iOS app and the Mac app) and your Kindle. For example, it will pick up on the last page you read on any device and it will also sync your bookmarked pages and text.

The app itself doesn’t allow you to buy books, but it does have a button that leads you to Amazon’s book store on your browser. Kindle books usually are very cheap (most go for about $10), and their library is truly great – it might be the biggest eBook store.

Price: Free
Requires: Max OS X 10.5 or greater
Developer: Amazon


iBooks on iTunes

I think the iBooks feature could be so much more. As it is right now, it is a store that is only accessible through the iBooks app, from iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPad. There is a tab on iTunes called “Books”, but the only thing you can do in it is add your own PDFs to get them uploaded to your iOS device, so that you can read them on it through the iBooks app.

In terms of reading books, there isn’t much support for this within iTunes itself. PDFs open in Preview when double clicked, but there’s no way to read your iBooks purchases on your computer just yet – at least not within iTunes.

Price: Free
Requires: iTunes
Developer: Apple


Barnes & Noble eReader

This app is provided by Barnes & Noble, the same company that creates the Nook device, but there doesn’t seem to be any syncing feature between the Nook and this app. This app, like its name says, is just a reader and it doesn’t let you do much, other than open and read .epub books (it doesn’t even allow PDF books).

My guess is they want you to use this app to read the books that you bought through their online store, on your Mac. But unlike the Kindle app, this one won’t automatically download the book you bought; instead you’ll have to point the app to the file where you saved the book.

The interface of it is pretty nice and it does a great job at being a pretty reader, but that’s it. There are features like bookmarks and notes, but you can only get to see them in this app, as it doesn’t sync to any device or service.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or greater
Developer: Barnes & Noble



Stanza is a popular iOS reader app, but it also has a Mac app and it’s pretty good. It is very simple and it is free. The interface is a bit different from others, as it displays all the pages from the book you opened horizontally, and instead of loading one by one, it loads all of them at once and you can see multiple pages in one window.

It supports most popular formats, like ePub, PDF and Mobi. It does not let you bookmark text, but you can bookmark pages. Other features include themes and layouts. It’s not very pretty, but it works well.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.8 or greater
Developer: Lexcycle



I have used Calibre as an eBook converter for a while now, and I just found out that it also doubles as an eBook reader. As a format converter it works wonders, it’s a bit hard to get into, but it can transfer pretty much any eBook file type into pretty much any eBook file type. In fact, it can even email files to your Kindle account and also transfer or retrieve books from and to your iTunes library.

As an eBook reader, it’s OK. It’s not particularly attractive, but it can open pretty much any format. This app has an advantage over the others: it can also work as a manager for all your eBooks; meaning, it can hold all your books in different file types and keep them organized.

Price: Free
Requires: Leopard or greater
Developer: Kovid Goyal

Reader Library

Reader Library Software from Sony

Sony’s involvement in the eBook reader scene has been something of a struggle. They have been coming out with various devices for quite a while now, and none of them have really caught up with the competition. This app is, I guess, a companion for their devices. The installation is very not Mac-like, but once you get through it, it’s actually pretty nice. It has its own eBook store (from Sony), but the library doesn’t seem to be very big.

It also has a reader feature, and it looks and works excellently. It supports only certain files (I couldn’t get MOBI files to work with it), but it has enough features and it works well. Still, I don’t see why you would want to use this app, unless you have a Sony reader device.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.4 or greater
Developer: Sony


PDF To Epub For Mac

PDF To Epub for Mac is a simple but expensive solution for transfering PDF files into Epub files, so that you can use them on numerous reader devices that only accept the Epub format, or that offer more features with it.

It has a very simple drag-and-drop interface. This is a converter app for non-tech oriented people, because while it is a little bit more complicated, Calibre does this and so much more.

Price: $49
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or greater
Developer: AnyBizSoft


eBooks have grown exponentially in recent years, especially with new devices like the Nook and the iPad. Have you picked up one of these devices for yourself?

As for me, I’ll stick to my Kindle until Apple can deliver a reader that doesn’t strain my delicate eyes. Whatever your decision is, we hope that you find some of these apps to buy, read and convert eBooks useful.

What are your thoughts on this relatively new way of reading?