Pros and Cons of Different Online Book Readers

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It is such a wonderful time to be a book lover. Once upon a time, we had to schlep heavy books back from bookstores and libraries or drop some serious cash ordering expensive tomes online. I love my personal library, don’t get me wrong—but I don’t love having so many books that they start spilling over into piles on the floor and every other available surface.

Luckily, there are now so many platforms for reading online books. You can get your fill of fictional adventures without ever leaving your computer, tablet, or phone screen. Even better, many of these sites have online book readers that enable you to read each book in your browser without having to fuss with downloading anything to your device.

As someone who has read a ton of books online, I can offer some insight into the online book readers that will best suit your needs. Here are 4 sites with some of the best online book readers on the Internet, and the pros and cons of each.

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader

While you have probably ordered at least a few books from Amazon in the past, you may not realize that the e-commerce giant offers plenty of ebooks for free. All you need to do is go to Amazon’s Best Sellers page in the Kindle Store and click the “Top 100 Free” option. Here you will see the 100 most popular books in the Kindle Store that are available to readers 100% for free. When you “buy” the ebook of your choice, select “Kindle Cloud Reader” to read in your browser.

Pros

  • This online reader is very aesthetically pleasing and user friendly
  • The navigation bar at the top allows you to jump around in the book to any page you like
  • You can adjust the font size, margins, and color mode
  • You are able to bookmark pages and save notes as you read (great for anyone who likes to make notes to themselves in physical books and dogear pages)

Cons

  • You have to have an Amazon account in order to use this online reader
  • Free books on Amazon are often part of a series, and you will likely have to pay full price to read the other books and find out what happens next
  • The fact that you see two pages on the screen at a time can be distracting and may make your reading experience less enjoyable

Project Gutenberg

If you’ve ever once dabbled in reading online books, you have probably visited Project Gutenberg. Even if you haven’t gone to the site, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the e-library. Project Gutenberg is known for having one of the largest collections of public domain books available on the Internet (over 60,000). If you’re looking to read a classic novel for school or pleasure, this site might be a great fit for your needs. Just select “Search and Browse” from the dropdown menu at the top and do a Quick Search for the title you want. Once you’ve found your book’s page, just click the “Read this book online: HTML” link to read in your browser.

Pros

  • You do not need an account to read online
  • The Table of Contents makes it easy to jump to any chapter you like
  • You can easily copy and paste quotes, which is ideal for writing school papers
  • You are able to search for certain words using the “Find” option in your browser—also great for writing essays

Cons

  • This online reader will not save your place if you close the tab
  • The novels on the site are not organized by pages or page numbers, which can make finding your place (or a particular line) complicated
  • Some browser versions of novels are spaced very closely together, making reading difficult

Manybooks

Like Project Gutenberg, Manybooks is an e-library that will give you access to tons of public domain classics. However, there are also several works by contemporary authors as well that you can read for free. The site has a beautiful interface that is easy to navigate. Just search for whichever title you’d like to read or browse by genre. Once you’ve reached your book’s page, click “Read Online” to read in your browser.

Pros

  • You do not need an account to read online
  • Like the rest of the site, this online reader is very aesthetically pleasing and user friendly
  • The pages are numbered and you are able to use the “Jump to” field at the bottom to skip to any page you like
  • You can adjust the font size

Cons

  • The online reader can occasionally take some time to load
  • The reader does not save your place
  • The ebooks lack a Table of Contents, so you are not able to skip to a particular chapter

Fictionate.Me

Fictionate.Me is a newer platform, which means that you will have a chance to get in on the ground floor when it comes to some of the newest and most exciting indie authors on the scene. If you’re sick of the same old same old and enjoy discovering new talent, this could be the ideal site for you. Only some of the books on Fictionate are free, but paid books tend to be in the $0.99-$4.99 range and most titles offer ample free previews.

Pros

  • You do not need an account to read online (though if you do create an account, the site will save your place as you read)
  • You are able to adjust the text’s spacing to your preference
  • You can save your eyes some strain by reading in night mode
  • Very natural-sounding AI narration is available for every book so you can listen on the go

Cons

  • It’s not possible to skip to a particular page in the text
  • You can’t adjust the font size
  • Formatting can sometimes be inconsistent

Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jill has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.

She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jill has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).

Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.