Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.
You don't have to buy an e-reader to get into ebooks. Here are some of the best apps around for your e-reading pleasure.
As far as iPhone e-readers go, Stanza is very versatile. It allows you to purchase from a selection of over 50,000 contemporary titles, as well as download to your iDevice free books from a similar number of public domain titles. However, many books available through the app are restricted to the US. You can transfer your own books to your device using the free Stanza Desktop app, though. Stanza supports a decent range of file formats, too.
Like Stanza for iOS, Aldiko is the go-to e-reader app for Android if you don't want to use an ebook retailer's app. It doesn't quite have the same versatility as Stanza — it supports ePub, PDF and OPDS (open content distribution system), and you can read your Adobe DRM ePub files on it, too. It also has content partnerships with publishers and retailers to deliver ebooks in-app.
Don't want to buy the Kindle e-reader? No problem! The Kindle app for iOS, Android and WP7 allows you full access to Amazon's ebook store (well, what is available to Aussies, anyway) and includes en e-reader so that you can read your books right on your phone. Have a Kindle? The Kindle app will sync your books between devices.
Kobo, which is becoming a serious player in the ebook business, has its own app, too, with access to the Kobo ebook store. Kobo is seeking to take the e-reading experience one step further with "social" reading; sharing favourite passages and notes on Facebook and Twitter, and receiving "reading trophies" (this author may have several already. She is not preening.), a built-in dictionary and compatibility with iTunes, Mail, Dropbox and Safari. Like Kindle, it also syncs with other Kobo apps.
Apple provides its own bookstore. If you have an iDevice, it would be silly to ignore Apple's offering, but it's still not quite up to scratch, with very limited content available. It's free, so you have nothing to lose by downloading it, but at this point in time there are much better options.
For those who enjoy a good audio book, Audible is the internet's go-to source for content. It allows you to purchase and listen to audio books, earn rewards, transfer books wirelessly and natter on about what you're listening to on Facebook and Twitter. We do need to add a strong caveat: there are many titles not available to Australian users, so shopping can be a highly frustrating experience.
GoodReader supports a wide range of file types, from Office and iWork right through to audio and video. What we like about it, though, is that it reflows PDFs. On such a small screen as a smartphone's, fixed zoom isn't really practical, so if you read a lot of PDFs, an application with this ability is wonderful.
Alas, GoodReader isn't available for Android, but ezPDF also offers reflow, as well as audio, video and image support. It also has a really handy text-to-speech function for PDFs with automatic page-turning, and you can add notes, copy text to the clipboard and highlight passages.
There are other apps that read comics files, as well as dedicated comics apps from individual publishers, but Comics is the most comprehensive, offering content from Marvel, DC, Image, Boom Studios, Red 5, Tokyopop, Top Cow, Slave Labor and many more. You can download heaps of issues for free, buy comics for relatively cheap prices, and read them using the dynamic viewer, which lets you view pages whole, or panel-by-panel.
Zinio probably works best on tablets, but if you like getting your magazines delivered in e-format, it's definitely worth a look-see. It offers access to thousands of magazine titles with interactive content for select titles, synchronisation between devices, zooming and a library of your magazines.
Goodreads isn't so much an app for reading as it is a way to connect with other bibliophiles — although it does have an e-reader function built in with free public domain books available. You can also read reviews written by other readers, write your own, make a to-read list, discuss titles and scan your books' barcodes to add them to your library, keeping track of what you have.
Likewise, Dropbox isn't so much an e-reading app as it is an easy way to keep your files on hand on the go. You can put your ebook files into Dropbox's free cloud storage and access them at any time, meaning that you never have to worry about having something to read. It's useful for a whole heap of other reasons, too — it's one of the handiest apps you'll find on the app store.