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.
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:
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