Tech News & Tips: Apps that keep digital books close at hand

Here at the library we are all about books, whether they are in our physical collection or are available digitally through our OverDrive and Axis 360 services. Sometimes, though, you may want to have access to a book for longer than the standard three-week checkout; maybe you have an old favorite you always want on hand. You might also have a document, perhaps a book you wrote yourself that you want on your device side-by-side with your other books. Now you can do just that with several free apps, and most will allow you to choose whether you want your document to reside on the Internet, aka the cloud, or on your device.



Apple’s entry to the e-book market— iBooks—allows you to purchase books from the iBooks store.  Purchased books are yours, though, as with most digital media these days, you are restricted in how you share the materials. If you wish to upload your own documents, they will need to be formatted as either PDFs or EPUB, the industry standard for digital books. To place digital materials on your device, you will either access them through the iBooks Store, or download through Safari, the Apple Browser, and through Apple Mail. Unlike the other apps mentioned below, you can only access iBooks and the iBooks store on Apple devices. If your device has iOS 8 or later, it should come with iBooks as a standard app.


From Amazon comes the Kindle app.  Like Apple, Amazon is very much about keeping you in the Amazon ecosystem, meaning that they use a proprietary format, AZW, and you have to use a Kindle app to read your documents. That being said, Amazon has given the consumer far more options than their competitor, making Kindle apps available for all major devices including PC and Mac. You can direct download documents to your Kindle app or use a specially created email address, unique to that device, which will convert to AZW automatically. Reading and notes will sync across devices allowing your reading experience to flow at your pace. For Apple and Android devices, this sync applies to store-bought books and your own personal documents; the PC app does not allow for such syncing, at least not on a personal level. To download the Kindle app, go to your device’s app store and search for Kindle.

Google PlaybooksGoogle Play Books

One of the seemingly endless array of Google’s apps is called Play Books. The app is available to iOS devices as well as Android and can be accessed on any device through an in-browser option. Depending on your version of Android, the app may come standard. As with iBooks the app accepts both the EPUB and PDF formats. You will have notes and current page sync across devices as with Kindle, and you can also purchase books through its in-app store. This store extends to the Internet as well, making it possible to buy and manage books anywhere. Personal documents can be uploaded to Play Books through the same browser environment with a simple drag and drop if your file is in the appropriate format.

Tech Tips are provided by the E-Library Specialists at Jacksonville Public Library. For more information on any of these apps or how to convert your document to the appropriate app contact your local library’s E-Specialist who will be happy to help. Email:

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