Read your eBooks on your Android with Cool Reader

There are plenty of eBook readers out there, and even more than a few for mobile devices like Androids. That means, of course, that you have tons of options for  which reader you choose to use. How, then, do you decide which one? The simple answer is to use Cool Reader.

Cool Reader(CR) is an entirely free App from a developer named Vadim Lopatin. There are tons of reasons why I think Cool Reader is the best way to go for a mobile eBook app, so let’s start with the basics.

First off, Cool Reader supports a wide range of formats. While it doesn’t support every single format out there (I have yet to find one that does), it does support most of the really popular ones. Some of the ones supported are: epub, fb2, txt, doc, rtf, html, chm, tcr, pdb, pml. The epub format is possibly the most popular, and has been the easiest to use, view, and find, in my experience. Personally, to keep things easy and simple, I use Calibre (also found on Freewaregenius.com in review) to convert my eBooks to the epub format and read them in Cool Reader.

That brings me to the second point. Cool Reader is loaded with an ungodly amount of customization options, editable in both the options menu, and from within the book view itself. Within the options menu, there are such useful things like night and day modes. Cool Reader sets and stores a separate profile for each mode, and will automatically switch between those profiles when you activate either mode.

For those who may not be familiar with eBook reader programs; day mode usually has dark text on a light background and night mode is just the opposite. Many reader programs offer this kind of function, but Cool Reader actually takes it a step further by integrating this function with the other available options. For example: Cool Reader allows you to change the font, font size, and font color of the text you are reading. It also allows you to store each of these options within the night or day profiles so you could have a day profile that has a 12pt font of bright green letters, and you could have a night profile with a 20pt font of dark orange letters. Any combination of color and font and size is allowed, and is stored for whichever profile you like.

Additionally, CR has several custom backgrounds built in, such as a ‘sand’ texture, a few different ‘paper’ textures, and of course an option to have the background be a solid color of your choice. The program uses a standardized color mixer so you can choose from literally thousands of colors and hues and shades for backgrounds and for fonts. As if that wasn’t enough, it also allows you to use your own customized backgrounds, in the form of picture files, like jpgs or bmps.  On my own Cool Reader, I use a nifty ‘parchment’ texture I found on a website of free texture files. This gives my eBooks a nice, old paperback feel to them, which is quite comfy and nostalgic for me.

In addition to the options mentioned already, CR also lets you define specific backlight levels for each profile. High backlight levels for the day profile and lower for the night, for instance. There are literally pages and pages of customization and comfort options in Cool Reader’s menu, and listing every single one would amount to a user manual, so I’m not going to do that here, but you start to see the point that it really does offer a way to fit nearly anyone’s eBook needs. It even has an absolutely gorgeous ‘page-turn’ animation that simulates the flipping of a page to the next one. You have to see it to really appreciate how elegant it is.

image One of the greatest features of CR, in my opinion, is the ability to customize the various options and features into what’s known as ‘tap zones’ within the view of the eBook. What this means is that each page you read is divided, invisibly, into nine separate and equal size blocks, or ‘zones’, that are touch sensitive. I’ve included a screenshot so you can see how the zones are set up, but you can’t see the lines when you’re reading the book. Only Cool Reader sees them, and responds to your touch within each zone. You can customize what each individual zone does when it is activated by tapping it once, twice, or doing a long-hold tap on that area. For example, I have the middle zones on the left and right set to go forward or back one page if i tap once in that zone. If i tap twice, it goes forward or back a full ten pages. The zones on the bottom left and right, I use to increase or decrease the font size, in case my eyes start to water from reading tiny fonts or in case I get a headache from reading huge ones. The upper left and right zones I use for other options, and so on. It’s a brilliant way of letting you do what you want, when you want, from within the page view. Also built into the options is the ability to ‘flick’ or slide your finger up and down either the left or right side of the screen to increase or decrease the brightness of the backlight on the fly. Essentially, you can control your CR and your eBook from the page view and do it all with one thumb. Nearly anything that can be done in the options menu can be set to a tap-zone for use during reading.

Here’s a brief listing of just some of the options in Cool Reader’s current version at the time of this posting, taken from the application’s web page in the Android Market:

  • Pages or scroll view.
  • Page flipping animation.
  • Table of contents, bookmarks, text search.
  • Bookmarks on text fragments (comments or corrections) – useful for proof reading.
  • Export of bookmarks to text file.
  • Built-in file browser, quick recent books access.
  • Online catalogs (OPDS) support.
  • Text to Speech (TTS) support.
  • Hyphenation dictionaries;
  • Most complete FB2 format support: styles, tables, footnotes.
  • Additional fonts support (place .ttf to /sdcard/fonts/)

 

  • Day and night profiles (two sets of colors, background, backlight levels).
  • Brightness adjustments by flick on left edge of screen.
  • Background texture (stretched or tiled) or solid color.
  • Paperbook-like page turning animation or “sliding page” animation.
  • Dictionary support (ColorDict and Fora Dictionary).
  • Customizable tap zone and key actions.
  • Can read books from zip archives.
  • Automatic reformatting of .txt files (autodetect headings etc.)
  • Styles can be customized in wide range using external CSS.
  • Select text using double tap (optional).

You’ll notice that there are some features on the list that I didn’t go into detail on, and you may also like to know that these aren’t even all the features it has! Truly, it is rare to find such a robust options menu in a completely free app, and even more rare to find one that looks this polished and professional, while having a tiny digital footprint, coming in at around two megabytes, and even those two tiny little megabytes can be moved to your microSD card so it hardly takes up any room at all on your mobile device’s internal memory. That’s a huge plus for those of us who have smartphones with limited internal memory like mine.

The current version at the time of this posting is 3.0.51-36, and it will run on Android OS version 1.5 or later. I’ve been seeing pretty regular updates for it too, fixing tiny bugs (that I personally haven’t seen any evidence of in the first place, but it’s nice to know they are working on it continuously), and adding small features and graphic interface changes. I found CR to be easy to use, easy to keep and, best of all, easy on my wallet. The only real downside I found is that there are a few formats it doesn’t like to read, such as .pdf. This, however, was pretty easy to get around, for me, by using Calibre to convert my .pdf files into epub format. Unfortunately, this can’t be done if your .pdf file is DRM protected, but with anything else it’s a go.

Cool Reader makes it easy, not to mention fun and comfortable, to have all my eBooks in one place, and read them in one app. I’ll be using this one for a long time to come, and I hope you’ll take a moment or two to check it out for yourself if you’re an avid reader and own a device that can run it. Until next time, my friends!

Version Tested: 3.0.51-36

Tested On: Android OS 2.2.1 Sanyo ZIO by Kyocera

Download here.


 
 
 
B.C. Tietjens

B.C. Tietjens

Born and raised overseas in a military family, B.C. Tietjens visited and lived in many places all over the world. He has worked on a number of publications and enjoys writing for different audiences, on such diverse subjects as relationships, technology, prestidigitation, self-improvement, entertaining children, and biographical stories. He currently writes primarily for Freewaregenius and enjoys the heck out of it.
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  • http://scifiandgadgets.com/ Morely Dotes

    Just installed Cool Reader on my Superpad 10.2-inch tablet (aka “Flytouch II”) and now I’m drooling at the free ebook offerings in various libraries.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    I’ve tried them all (Cool Reader, Moon+ Reader, FB reader, Go Book…) and I keep going back to Aldiko. Whilst Aldiko does not have the customisation level of Cool reader it does have PDF support and DRM support.

  • Jinto

    Have been using Aldiko for some time, and this app is awesome.

    The only problem am facing with Aldiko is the lack of offline dictionary support… Is there any way to overcome this issue ?

  • Jinto

    Have been using Aldiko for some time, and this app is awesome.

    The only problem am facing with Aldiko is the lack of offline dictionary support… Is there any way to overcome this issue ?

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    I’m currently testing the new Aldiko beta but not tested the dictionary yet. I think it’s mostly cosmetic changes in this new version. I believe Moon+ reader can also tie in to a dictionary app the same as Cool reader.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    OK I just tested and the new Aldiko still uses Google for it’s online dictionary and now just opens the browser.

    The problem we have is no reader covers all the bases. Cool Reader is very customisable and the anti aliasing along with the coloured backgrounds makes reading easier on the eye but Aldiko is easier when it comes to viewing your books as well as downloading new ones.

  • B.C. Tietjens

    It’s true, there really isn’t any one single reader app that does absolutely everything. I sure wish there was! However, I am of the opinion that Cool Reader comes pretty darn close and that’s the one I have been using and plan to use in the future. There are lots of other great ones out there, and lots of other software to compliment the various readers, like Calibre, for instance. If you haven’t checked out Calibre yet, and you’re an avid e-reader like I am, I really suggest you give it a look. It’s a great tool to help organize and even convert your eBooks for use with different apps. Thanks for reading and the comments!

    ~Benjamin

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    I just wish that Cool Reader had a better library such as Aldiko or Moon+ have as it’s currently a pain in the posterior going through your books.

  • DT

    Just installed on Galaxy Tab – very impressive – especially like the “tap zones”. Believe it may actually replace the Moon+ I’m currently using! However, the library function is really awful – although it does have a “recent/reading” section which helps…once you find it! Maybe it doesn’t really need to have the nifty “bookshelves” most of the other apps have, but it would be nice to have thumbnails of the covers…at least.

  • B.C. Tietjens

    @DT
    I have been getting the thumbnails of covers showing up in my list of books, but only for those in epub format. I hope that helps. Thanks for your comments!

  • B.C. Tietjens

    @DT
    I was looking through the options menus and noticed there is one that says “Show Cover Pages in Browser” See if you can find that option and make sure it is turned on. That should make sure you can see the cover art for your books in the list. I hope that helps.

  • nhnonna

    I found some of the features by accident; is there any kind of instruction brochure or paper to find out how to reach some of the features? I wanted to change the justify mode if I could. Other than that, I have chosen this ereader over all of the other android readers for my Asus Transformer Prime. This app rocks!!! Thank you Vadim Lopatin; you are a very talented person!!!