image Related: Chris Meadows’ unboxing video of the iPad. In-depth review on the way! – D.R.

Apple, Kobo and Amazon dissed iPad fans who prefer e-reader apps to be able to bold all the text on the screen—one way to increase LCD readability when you’re outside or if you suffer vision problems.

Stanza, yes, offers the Arial Rounded MT Bold font, but without a so-far-AWOL update, it won’t display full size in high-res on the iPad screen. readMe keeps crashing. But good old BookShelf, one of the early iPhone apps, is out with an iPad-friendly version that offers zillions of font choices, including ARMT.

Going for $4.99, BookShelf reads ePub, HTML, DRM-free Mobipocket, text-only PDF, Plucker and other formats and lets you download from the Web, the “BookShelves” of sites like Feedbooks, Gutenberg, Baen or SmashWords—or from your desktop. A free version, BookShelfLT, stores up to ten books at once.

Alas, BookShelf’s desktop transfer program can be a hassle to set up and I hope that developer Zachary Bedell will check out the simpler transfer technique that readMe uses. How-to videos are nice, but easier transfers would be better.

Disappointingly, too, unless I’m overlooking something, BookShelf apparently won’t let you adjust the margins; please add that feature, Zac, and otherwise work to match Stanza’s versatility, just as your customers are demanding. In places the interface is clunky. What’s more, I apparently can’t annotate or select text for bookmarking. I know—you can do only do much at once. But you might be a natural for funding by libraries or other institutions: I myself can really appreciate what you’re trying to do.

And oh, the positives! For example, via a free Dropbox or Boxnet account, I can get around my problem with the desktop transfer program and enjoy other benefits as well.

In keeping with the name, I could create a customized bookshelf, and I also enjoyed other wrinkles such as the full-screen mode, auto-scrolling, choice of backgrounds, word search, ease of looking up words in a dictionary of my choice (not present but easy to install) or Wikipedia. Were BookShelf not missing features like annotations, this could be a stellar app for geekish Englilsh majors. The potential remains. I’m really rooting for Zac’s app to thrive now that Amazon is apparently hobbling the Stanza team. So give BookShelf a try and spread the word; and if you’re influential in academia or the library world, think about helping out financially if Zac is open to the possibility. Otherwise don’t grip if Amazon eventually swallows BookShelf just as it did Stanza.

Also of interest to iPad users:

The Atomic Browser—superior to the iPad’s built-in Safari. It offers tabbed windows, the ability to change font sizes and a search engine-switcher so you can use the same term with, say, Wikipedia as you’ve just done with Google—no need to retype. TAB will even pass itself off as Firefox or Internet Explorer or another nonSafari choices. That’s one way to read Gmail in the standard view, although you may not be able to go outside the basic HTML mode. Alas, just like Safari, TAB would not work with Google Docs. Price for the paid version is 99 cents; -a free one is also available.

The Audiobooks iPad edition lets you listen to more than 2,800 free audio books—classics such as Moby Disk and David Copperfield. Worked great with the start of Picture of Dorian Gray.


  1. Are there any currrently available iPad reader apps, especially pdf, that will display yellow text on a black background? My theory is that this is a near-universally optimum text display for an LCD under any lighting conditions, but I’ve only seen it on Foxit Pdf Reader for Windows.

    Thanks, Don

  2. @Don Lloyd: Try GoodReader. It is an excellent app for pdfs and many other file types. I have it on the iPhone and am awaiting my 3G iPad where I look forward to using it, too. The app is only 99 cents and well worth it. There are color sliders to make various day modes and night modes. Start with the default night color and slide the green a little to the right. This appears to me to make yellow on black.

  3. @Don Lloyd: These are iPhone instructions; hope it works on iPad. Under Settings select Viewing Text Files. That sounds counterintuitive, but but humor me. That brings up a menu where you select the little arrow next to Night Mode Colors. Now you will see the color sliders. After getting the color the way you want it for night mode, go back to your pdf file and tap the screen to bring up the menu at the bottom. On the left is a circle which is half light and half dark. Press that to go from day to night mode.

    No guarantees the iPad menu is the same but fool around with it and you may come up with the same thing. I love this app.

  4. @David,

    As you may recall, my initial experience with the iPad, and my first experience with an Apple product of any kind, was quite troublesome.

    The largest part of the problem was interfacing with the screen, and a comment by one of the Chris’s was useful in keeping me from trying to get a response by digging a hole in the screen with my fingernail.

    However, even this wasn’t enough to get over the hump.

    After 6 days of frustration, I realized that I didn’t have any indication of what the definition of a ‘tap’ was for a capacitive touchscreen. In particular, whereas a ‘tap’ for a resistive screen needs only a single unidirectional stroke that applies actual pressure to the screen, a ‘tap’ for a capacitive screen must need both an approach stroke and a withdrawal stroke, both of which are velocity sensitive and which, ideally, need not touch the screen at all.

    Keeping this in mind, the screen now works considerably better, but by no means perfectly.

    The remaining problems may be a combination of :

    1. positional accuracy as the finger blocks the view of the screen.

    2. non-responsiveness as the processor may be too tied up to process further taps, etc. This especially may be the problem with large files on GoodReader.

    3. nerve-damaged fingers as a result of diabetes. You wouldn’t expect this to affect the capacitive response much, but it often seems as if different fingers are sometimes more or less successful than others.

    4. but overall, the biggest remaining problem is inconsistency. It will often respond perfectly for several taps in a row, and then be non-responsive for a couple of taps.

    5. in addition, a large problem is incidental contact, especially along the left bezel and the little finger of the right hand.

    Regards, Don

  5. Many thanks for the update, Don. I love my iPad despite its imperfections—I’m not the biggest fan of the virtual keyboard and hate the absence of the ability to use even an external mouse. But I bought the thing more for content consumption—reading helps my writing—than for direct content creation. For me, the iPad is much more pleasant to read on than the Kindle.

    Not everyone will feel the same. Know what I’d do in your place if you’re still unhapppy and Apple thinks your unit is normal? Return the iPad while you still can. Your comfort and general happiness should count most of all.


  6. On iPad owners’ wishlist, Teddy–nothing more. Shame on Amazon for apparently buying Lexcycle to cripple it. May Amazon surprise us and in fact let the terrific Lexcycle team release a full-strength iPad update of Stanza. Ask Chris Meadows about Amazon and Mobi. David

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail