Why is reading an ebook on Linux so complicated … and ugly?!?

Linux needs an ebook reader

When I’m doing research some of the sources are ebooks so I’m looking for a way to read books on my Linux laptops and desktops.

On Android and iOS phones and tablets, this problem is solved beautifully. The stock iBooks app and Google Play Books app are excellent. After trying A LOT of book readers, I recommend Moon+ Reader.

Simplicity Counts

Even though I’ve paid for Moon+ Reader Pro I catch myself firing up Google Play Books precisely because it has FEWER options. You can tell Google put a lot of work in to making it simple.

Recommendation: None

On Linux, I still haven’t found a satisfactory solution. In fact, if I need to read more than a page or two, I’ll send it to my phone. It’s crazy but it’s more pleasant to read on a small-screened phone than on a powerful Linux machine with a huge monitor.

Requirements

  • MUST – The ebook reader MUST meet ALL of these requirements.
  1. MUST work in Linux
  2. MUST work offline
  3. MUST allow changing font-size.
    (To deal with high-DPI displays, poor book formatting, poor eye-sight, etc.)
  4. MUST work with epub
  • SHOULD – The ebook reader SHOULD meet these requirements but they are not deal-breakers.
  1. Should be able to open book directly
    (I should be reading the book after I double-click in the file browser. I shouldn’t need to ‘import’ it into its own custom library or convert it to its own custom format.)
  • COULD – The ebook reader COULD meet these requirements but they are not deal-breakers.
  1. COULD work with mobi
  2. COULD allow changing font
    (There’s a lot of Comic Sans out there)
  3. COULD work with chm

Non-Requirements

These are features I don’t care about and not part of the selection process.

  1. Library ‘management’. I have Google, Apple, and Amazon telling me about the book and the authors and a computer that can full-text index my books. Why would I want to spend time ‘managing’ my library?
  2. PDF. There are a lot of excellent PDF viewers out there. I don’t need my ebook reader to show me PDFs.
  3. Conversion. As an end-user, I just want to read my book. Why would I want another copy in another file format to manage?

Individual Reviews

Readium

  • This is the ebook reader that’s stayed on my computer the longest. It uses my font-size settings. It’s not a deal breaker but I still cannot simply open a book by double-clicking on it. I have to ‘import’ it into its library.
  • Deal-breakers
    • None
  • Available at: Readium

Simple EPUB Reader

  • This is so CLOSE! It’s a delight to use but it ignores your font-size setting.
  • Deal-breakers
    • Can’t change font size. Overrides your font-size setting for the ones that came with the ebook. So if you’re working with a hi-dpi display or you just need a bigger font, you can’t read the book.
  • Available at: Simple EPUB Reader

EBook Offline Reader

Readiator

  • Deal-breakers
    • Can’t change font size. Overrides your font-size setting for the ones that came with the ebook. So if you’re working with a hi-dpi display or you just need a bigger font, you can’t read the book. 
  • Available at: Readiator EPUB Reader

Calibre

  • This is the program everybody raves about. It is its own web server, book-management library system, book converter, ebook-sync manager, ebook editor, news and magazine aggregator. It has its own custom icons, menu-ing system. Everybody raves about it but it’s not for me. I just want to read a book.
  • Available at: your Linux distribution, i.e., yum install calibre

FBReader

  • Close. But it wants to be your book-management library system. The custom icons aren’t for me.
  • Available at: your Linux distribution, i.e., yum install fbreader

Not Short-listed

These were tested but did not make the short-list:

  • Lektz – Could not open test epub
  • Cloud ePub reader – this ‘free’ reader says I have to disable adblock for free use

 

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