Now that Amazon has sunk the usability flagship among e-readers, Stanza, I am looking for a replacement. I am not asking for an app recommendation, but I am asking how to find a good replacement?

It seems every app praises itself beyond reason. Every forum peddles whatever app has their fancy. How can I find a good e-reader app without installing and testing them all? Many aren't free and it would be silly to pay for many of them, only to find them all lacking.

Given that there's no recommendation stack exchange (however useful that might be?), how can I provide my requirements and get a sorted list of choices?

  • We don't really like lots of recommendation questions, but there is a recommend tag I believe. If you do it the othe way around, and list what you need to have in an app, and then ask what you can use to acheive these goals, you will have more luck. – stuffe Apr 5 '12 at 14:57
  • @AdamDavis: Thanks Adam, but those suggestions deal with showing PDF's on the iPhone, not downloading and reading e-books. Still, there could've been something in there. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 5 '12 at 15:42
  • @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun I use a combination of GoodReader for most computer style documents (word, PDF, etc) and iBooks which supports epub. I suggest you post your own question with your specific requirements, you're bound to get a ton of recommendations so be as specific as you can about what you need, and what you liked about stanza. – Adam Davis Apr 5 '12 at 15:48

This is the problem Apple is grappling with right now. I'm hoping that they'll have some answer for us this year that helps us deal with the number of competing apps in the app store.

In the meantime, I have a few strategies for finding an app that meets my needs:

Use the app store search.

If you need your ebook reader to support epub, bookmarks, notes, and dropbox, simply type, "epub bookmarks notes dropbox" in the search field of the app store. I like to sort first by rating and check out the highest rated apps, then by popularity and check out the most downloaded apps. Note that sorting by rating and popularity are only available on the iPad.

I read the reviews, both at the high rate end and low rate end to get an idea of the types of features people are excited about, and the types of problems people are experiencing.

I look at the most recent update notes, and see how long ago it was last updated to get an idea of whether the developer is taking an active role in maintaining the app and is responsive to complaints, or if it's an old app that works, but probably doesn't have new features.

At that point the only thing to do is to try out the ones that look most promising. Many apps offer a trial or ad supported version, so the trial can be free in many cases. For others, you'll have to pay a little to try them out, and if they don't fit your needs you've lost a little money and time, but remember that you're picking an app that should fit your needs for a long time - when you find it it will be worth the effort and money you've spent on other apps looking for the perfect one.

Use internet reviews/forums

Do a google search for "best ebook reader ipad" or similar, and you'll often get dozens of "top ten" style lists from people who have spent some time not just reviewing a few apps, but comparing and contrasting them. You have to do a bit of wading, and you are going to have a hard time finding less popular subjects, "best lawn care app" isn't going to give you such collections because few people will have taken the time to check them out, even though many exist onthe app store.

Ask in appropriate forums

This site, Ask Different, does permit apple and iOS specific product recommendations, for instance, and there are many other forums that are fine with such questions.

You can check out the tag to get examples of the style of questions allowed here. The tag has this note which might also give you tips on asking for a recommendation:

Recommendations can easily be subjective and local to one person or time. Please be specific about function and broad about timeframe so that your question, once answered objectively, is of use to the community.

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    How do you sort by rating? I don't remember seeing that option on the iPhone. – Senseful Apr 5 '12 at 17:19
  • @Senseful Additional sort options are available on the app store for iPad. I do all my app store searching on the ipad now, and load apps by name on the iphone once I've decided, since the iPad app store shows iPhone/iPod and iPad apps. – Adam Davis Apr 5 '12 at 17:35

I realize your question is specific to e-readers, but my answer is much more general. You have been warned.

My method for general information gathering is to use my Google Reader to subscribe to just about every interesting source of information I come across on the web. In-between projects at work, or when I just want a break, I hit up Feedly and see what's on. At this point I have just about 700 blogs subscribed. Not all are active, but the ones that are present plenty of information. Because of the way Feedly and Google Reader are set up, it's easy to ignore items simply by reading the headline. The j key is your friend!

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    How does this relate to e-reading? Not everything that you can find in an ebook can be found by following blogs, and many people will prefer the ebook method. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 5 '12 at 15:27
  • The question was regarding finding a Stanza replacement to read e-books. Since the app store only has star ratings and user reviews, it's difficult to parse overall quality of app, as the question states in addition to other caveats. Give a man a fish... – zwerdlds Apr 5 '12 at 15:36

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