Best iPad books and apps for reading

Got a shiny new iPad? Great, but you'll soon realise that on its own the iPad doesn't do that much.

We've scoured the 3500 dedicated iPad apps (and counting) to bring you what we think are the best apps available at the moment (mid April) in order to get you reading on the device. Ditch the idea of the ebook reader with its grey screen and non-interactive display. This is where the future of reading is.

We've tried, tested and reviewed all the below ourselves rather than just guessing whether they are good or not.

iBooks

Apple's attempt at servicing those who want to use the iPad as an ebook reader is iBooks. Currently only available in the US the store will let you buy the latest ebooks to read on the go.

Books are stored on a virtual bookshelf and you'll get Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne free to get you started.

Pages - like the Amazon Kindle app - are turned by swiping from left to right (or vice versa to go backwards), you can bookmark a page for later and change both the font and the size of the font for easier reading. There is a search function so you can find a particular word regardless of where it is in the book, whilst highlighting a word will let you look it up in the dictionary, bookmark it, or search for it on Google.

You can't add notes to the books or highlight words, but bookmarking them does highlight them in the copy giving you a similar effect.

Another nice touch is that it will tell you how many pages you've got 'till the end of the chapter.

Price Free

Rating 9/10


Amazon Kindle

You didn't think that Amazon would let Apple have all the fun with book purchases on the iPad did you?

Here you get Amazon's very good Kindle application that has been designed and formatted to benefit the bigger screen.

The free app lets you access some 450,000 titles both free and paid for from the company's electronic book store.

Signing up for the free service is incredibly easy and you can sync your books with other devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry or your computer; so you can pick up where you left off regardless of what device you've got with you.

As with iBooks (only available in the US at the moment) you'll be able to buy books on the fly, which is handy if you're in the airport and about to get on a long flight.

Within the iPad version you can bookmark pages to return to later as well as change the font size and select whether or not the page is shown on a white, black or sepia background (something the iBook offering can't do). 

Realising that a screen shining in your face when you're reading in bed might not be the greatest of ideas, you can also adjust the brightness of that screen to virtual darkness within the app.

Portrait and landscape modes are offered, although frustratingly landscape offers only a single column of text rather than two pages, making the line length rather long and at times difficult to read.

Fonts can't be changed, and unlike iBooks you're only able to note or highlight a word rather than access the dictionary or search for it on Google.

With more books on offer than the Apple iBook store as well as UK availability, this is one to check out if you are planning on reading on your iPad.

Price Free

Rating 9/10


Marvel

So you like comics? Well the good news is that the iPad makes for an amazing digital comic book just like that one Tom Hanks demoed in Big. The free Marvel comic book store app lets you buy and download comics, to read under your duvet or more likely on the train. 

There are, of course, a handful of free comics to give you an idea of what's in store, but the idea is that you're supposed to buy more when you're done reading what you've got.

The app will notify you when the next edition is out, view a preview of the comic you are about to buy as well as giving you the option to read it either portrait or landscape.

In the comic you can zip straight to a certain page as well as view the comic full screen or tile by tile, with the app even giving you animations for that comic-book movie feel.

If you like comic books and the idea of reading them on that lovely 9.7-inch screen, this is the one for you.

Price Free

Rating 8/10


Alice

While the iBooks store and Amazon Kindle app will give you proper books, Alice is, some would say, the future of books on devices like the iPad.

Available as a taster for free and the full fat version for a couple of quid, the complete version features 52 colourful interactive pages that tell the abridged story of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

The illustrations are based around the more famous ones you've seen, with the developers (from the UK) working hard to make new elements, not only fit, but add to the story.

Get to the page about the rabbit and his watch swings from letters and its motion is based on the movement of the iPad.

Simple, effective and possibly the way you'll read, certainly children's books in the future.

Price £5.49 / $8.99

Rating 9/10


Toy Story

With Toy Story 3 in cinemas this summer you're kids are going to be screaming out for Toy Story stuff. 

Disney are hoping to tease you in with interactive book versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2. The former being free, the latter you'll have to pay for.

The book will read to your kids so you don't have to, and on an educational front will highlight the words as they are being said.

To break from the reading there is the chance to paint scenes, although you can undo mistakes, and Toy Story features two songs: you've got a friend in me and strange things to sing along to (yes they come with the words). There are also some basic games as well.

Finally, if you're feeling really guilty about not reading to your kids you can record your voice to be read aloud instead of the actors voices.

Price Free

Rating 8/10


Cat In The Hat, Seuss ABC and The Lorax

If you're a fan of the Dr Seuss books then you'll love these three in the iPad app store. While the apps themselves aren't that interactive, they will let you enjoy the classic stories by Theodor Geisel

All the books feature the original illustrations and all have the ability to resume the story where you left off - even if you've opened other apps in the mean time.

All three can be read to you, ideal for keeping the kids quiet, or read yourself, in which case you don't get the voices or sound effects.

Simple, but they do look pretty.

Price £1.79, £1.79, £2.39 / $2.99, $2.99, $3.99

Rating 8/10


GoodReader for iPad

The idea behind GoodReader for the iPad is probably the main reason behind why you would wanted an iPad in the first place: to read stuff when you are out and about.

The idea here is that you can load up your device with meaty documents or PDF files and then read them when you are away from your computer, like on the train or the plane.

There are a number of ways to get documents on your iPad, either via iTunes 9.1 (via the new file sharing system feature), a wireless network and a browser, downloading stuff straight from the web, or connecting to a server, either your FTP server if you are being geeky or something a lot more friendly like Dropbox, Google docs, MobileMe or even a mail server of your choice.

Once you've found the file you're looking for you can then load it up to read with the iPad showing complete pages for PDF documents or a continuous stream for Word docs.

Most major formats are supported including PDF, TXT, MS office, iWork and even HMTL.

It also does video and audio, as well as stripping out the text from a PDF, making this one nifty little app.

Price 59p / 99 cents

Rating 9/10

 


 

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What book-related apps have you found that are really good? Let us know in the comments below.



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