The ebook market has gotten crowded as of late. Amazon continues to dominate the industry, but people still turn to Apple and Google to supply ebooks for their tablets. Yet ebooks have been long before these companies came to dominate the industry. Digital books are still sold and distributed from sources that don’t seek to tie you down to specific devices. Some people prefer to read ebooks on their computers. How about taking those files into the cloud? If you love to read EPUB books online, here are some options.
1. Play Books
Google finally introduced the ability to upload EPUBs into Google Books during Google I/O this year. Its now allows readers to read any EPUB books online, either on your browser or Android device. For people already invested in Google’s ecosystem, this is a great way to accumulate books from a wide range of sources and access them on any device. I recently bought the Video Game Bundle from StoryBundle, and they imported into the service just fine.
Uploading is simple. Just head over to your personal collection inside Play Books and find “Uploads” in the sidebar. A window will pop up prompting you to select or drag in the ebooks you’re interested in.
You can import either EPUBs or PDFs that aren’t burdened with DRM. You can try exporting your Nook library, for example, and uploading to Google Books, but it’s up in the air which books are DRM-free.
Note: Play Books is available for selected countries only, including USA.
EPUBReader began as a Firefox extension that let people read ebooks inside Firefox. This extension is still available if Firefox is your browser of choice, but there is also an EPUBReader web app that is available for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. This is a great resource for people who want to read EPUB books online but don’t want to trust their ebook collection to a particular company.
You don’t need to create an account to use EPUBReader. When you first open up the web app, there is nothing visible except for a plain white page with an upload button at the top.
Support is iffy, but ideally your book’s cover will immediately appear. Even if it doesn’t, the text may still import properly. Just click the arrows on each side of the window to turn pages left and right. There are no animations or flare of any kind. This tool is great for people who just want to read an ebook they have on file without having to jump through too many hoops.
3. EMS Epub Reader
EMS Epub Reader is a web app within the Chrome Web Store that also supports uploading ebooks without the creation of an account. It offers a sleeker interface than EPUBReader and a broader range of features. It’s easy to figure out, but as you can see below, it is ad-supported.
EMS Epub Reader can open EPUB files from URLs or your local hard drive. If you have an EPUB file that isn’t packaged yet, it can open that too.
EMS EPUB Reader will present your files in a clean, visual manner. Just click on a book to begin reading.
The interface is more polished than EPUBReader. It comes with options, so you can read the book in full screen or change the color of the screen.
Readium is another web app that looks largely the same as EMS Epub Reader, but it might have better support for your files if the latter gives you trouble.
4. MagicScroll eBook reader
MagicScroll eBook Reader will let you read ebooks, but it won’t look pretty while it does it. While EMS EPUB Reader had one ad on its library page, MagicScroll has three. The interface also isn’t nearly as clean, but it works.
MagicScroll does have a striking means of presenting pages. The page view keeps text narrow and easily readable, while the faded black background keeps eyes focused on the page. The presentation here stands in stark contrast to the rest of the web app.
It says a lot when a losing competitor in the ebook market is valued more highly than the largest physical book retailer in the United States. The Nook brand of ebooks and ereaders is currently worth vastly more than the remainder of the company that spawned it. At this point, it’s been proven that ebooks are more than a passing fad. Hold on to your collection of EPUBs. Electronic books are here to stay.