App Review: Marvin e-reader app for iPad

Move over iBooks, there’s a new e-reader for iPad in town: Marvin. I heard about it from a KindleKorner reader, and it’s almost enough to make me wish I’d bought an iPad Mini instead of a Nexus 7.

First, the basic information. Marvin is free, for now, but their website indicates that will end at some time. It opens DRM-free EPUBs, but they say they’re working on more formats. I’m hoping for MOBI to come soon. It’s an iPad-only app, but an iPhone version is coming.

So, why another e-book app? Because this one is just amazing. Want complete control of how your book looks? Marvin can handle it. I downloaded an EPUB file that had wonky paragraph spacing, and with just a few taps, Marvin fixed it for me.

Want wide margins? Narrow? Feel like reading in blue text on a pink background? Yeah, Marvin can handle all that, too. (Although I’m not sure why you’d want to go with that particular color combination.)

Marvin has lots of fonts, including a weighted font that’s supposed to be good for people with dyslexia. If you or your child has dyslexia, you’ll definitely want to check out the app.

* * *

Getting books into the app is a breeze; Marvin has the best Dropbox integration I’ve seen. Link Marvin to Dropbox, and it’ll search out all EPUBS and present a list. You can filter by title or author.

But that’s not all: With the app’s original feature, “Deep Read,” Marvin will “read” the book for you, and present you with a list of characters and particularly relevant names and places. You can even select names and have Marvin create an auto summary of the book which you can export and share.

Imagine this: You pick up a book you haven’t read in awhile, and you see a character you don’t recognize. No problem—Marvin will give you a summary of all the appearances of that character.

I think this app will particularly shine with students. I know I could have used it the first time I read Bleak House. It’s my favorite Dickens work, but I had a terrible time keeping the characters straight. What I did manually, by taking extensive notes, Marvin could have done for me automatically.

And not only that, but from within the app, you can search out further articles about the book or the author, and then “pin” those articles to the book file. Everything is in one place here, for example, to write a book review, book report or research paper.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what this app can do. Anyone else using it and want to share your experiences?

8 Comments on App Review: Marvin e-reader app for iPad

  1. Looking forward to trying it, thanks.

  2. As someone who spends quite a bit of time tweaking the CSS of ePubs to make them look as good as possible, I find this rather depressing.

  3. Rhiannon, why depressing? Your ePubs will look good without tweaking in Marvin. But not everyone is so diligent, and Marvin gives readers options to customize their reading experience the way they like.

  4. My ePubs won’t look the way I designed them in Marvin, because Marvin doesn’t have an option to adhere to the original CSS, even if the reader wants to. So if I’ve deliberately used a particular font or colour in a heading to get a specific effect, to take a very simple example, that will be lost. I’m not saying the reader shouldn’t be allowed to change it, but no-one should be obliged to.

    (If it helps you understand where I’m coming from, I’m working on science and academic works, not novels.)

  5. Rhiannon, okay that makes sense. I’d suggest contacting the Marvin developer. Kris emailed me after I posted this review and seems very open to suggestions. (I made a plug for an Android version on the app.)

  6. OK where in the heck is the Marvin website???????

  7. I linked to it in the beginning of the article, but here it is again.

  8. I’m more interested in this one, when they finish and release it. It lets you choose what material is offensive to you and filter it out.

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