Apps that enhance my reading

I have owned my iPad for nearly a year now and though I still won’t claim it’s a necessary item for my survival I am surprised at how indispensable it has become for both work and fun. I have already talked about which apps for reading books I like (and which ones I don’t like) so today I will discuss apps that are an adjunct to my reading life. If you have any apps that you use (on any device or even the good ol’ interwebs) feel free to share in the comments.

To keep track of all my books I use a desktop application called Book Collector (from Collectorz) and to be honest I don’t need the iPad app (CLZBooksHD) as well. But boy has it come in handy. You can’t use it as a standalone (i.e. you have to have the desktop version on a PC or Mac) but when you synchronise the mobile version with the desktop version you can carry around a read-only copy of your database which, at least in my case, prevents the buying of duplicate books and ensures I don’t buy books that aren’t on my wishlist (well almost never anyway). Given my TBR pile is made up of physical books, eBooks on two devices and audio books I find the flow view that you can see in the screen shot below to be the perfect guide to help me choose which book to read next as it’s like looking at a single virtual shelf.

Probably my favourite application of any kind that I use for far more than my reading is Evernote. It is basically a cloud-based clipboard that you can save anything to – web pages, documents, links, pictures, recipies, notes you type yourself, voice memos…the list goes on. You can also access your evernote account from anywhere (web, desktop, mobile device) and many services (such as RSS readers, most web browsers) allow you to send things of interest to your evernote account with one click. One of my virtual notebooks is called Book Wishlist and I send all the blog posts, newspaper articles and reviews I see that pique my curiosity to this notebook. Then when I have time I browse through the clippings and decide which books I’m really interested in (at which point they get added to my Collectorz wishlist). I often find I’ve sent 2 or 3 different clippings about the same book to Evernote which is a pretty good sign that the book is going to be right up my street. Although I can access the app anywhere, the iPad version is my favourite way to browse and sort through my clippings.

I’ve tried at least a dozen RSS readers on my iPad but have lately settled on Mr Reader as the one for me. While they all allow you to synchronise with a Google Reader account Mr Reader is the only one I found that allows you to add or change feeds on the iPad rather than waiting until you’re back at your desktop. It also has a pretty nice looking interface which you can see from screen shot below (the dark theme is my choice, there are several options). Of course an RSS reader is vital to my book reading life as I have loads of subscriptions to book blogs and I find that since I’ve had the iPad I tend to visit more blogs as I can do it on the bus or (don’t tell my boss) during the occasional boring work meeting. I can send items of interest directly from Mr Reader to Evernote.

These are the three non-reading apps that I think are essential to my reading life. I should note that Collectorz for iPad is $10 (on top of what you pay for the desktop application which is between $29-49 depending on which version you spring for) and Mr Reader is $5 but for me they have been worth the money. The main features of Evernote are available for free (a premium account is available if you need a huge amount of data storage or feel like supporting the app developers).

Before I finish there are some honourable mentions to hand out. Having mobile access to google translate, XE ( currency converter) and google maps makes reading books set in exotic locales so much easier than it used to be. Funnily enough I probably use the currency one most of all because when someone mentions a sum in Swedish kroner I simply have no reference point for whether it’s a lot or a little and it often seems important to know. XE is free and you can save 10 most-used currencies in a list so it barely takes more than a few nanoseconds for me to find out how much an amount is in Aussie dollars.

What about you? got any favourite apps that help you to read? Doesn’t have to be for an iPad…I’m sure there are good web apps I’m missing out on.

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16 Responses to Apps that enhance my reading

  1. Sarah says:

    I will mentally bookmark this page for when I get myself an ipad. My husband has one and it seems to be surgically attached to him so I’m not surprised you’ve found it useful. I fancy trying the e-book apps. I have a kindle but it is so boring……

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  2. Norman Price says:

    Bernadette I use Evernote to keep handy important emails and items. The iPad belongs to my wife [a present from our son], but I am guilty of using it more and more. The solution might be his and hers iPads, but I might wait for iPad 4 for that.

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    • I started using evernote after a computer crash in which I lost some important documents Norman – I know it’s in the cloud and not foolproof but at this point it seems more likely my computer will fail than the company. Hopefully.

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  3. Bernadette – Thanks for this! I don’t yet have an tablet although I may get one. But I love the idea of Evernote. You’re quite right too about XE; I use that and like it very much. And honestly, I almost never ask for directions anymore when I’m going someplace. Google Maps does the trick. Google is omnipresent…. 😉

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    • I think you would like evernote Margot, you can also share your account or individual notebooks within an account with others which can be quite handy. And yes Google is everywhere these days…a bit worrying I just hope they’ll be benevolent when they take over the entire world 🙂

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  4. Maxine says:

    Great tips, Bernadette. Now all I need is an iPad (as others here say, someone in our house has one (my daughter who is still at home) but it is never out of her hands by day and is kept in a little drawer by her bed at night…..She reads a lot on it, though, so I may mention some of these to her — though anything recommended by a parent is likely to be “rejected without peer review” as they say in the trade.

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    • LOL Maxine – one of my very favourite quotes is the Mark Twain one that goes something like “when I was a 14 year old my father was so ignorant I couldn’t stand it but when I was 21 I couldn’t believe how much he had learned”.

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  5. Carol Roberts says:

    Great information….very helpful. I have downloaded Evernote to my computer and iPad and Mr. Reader to my iPad. Thanks!

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  6. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I only have an iPod but I use the Collectorz software and app (though I am badly behind in keeping it up to date). I use Wunderlist to keep track of my book review commitments, the WordPress app to moderate comments, the Goodreads app to update my reading progress and I have given up on finding an RSS reader app that doesn’t choke after a few weeks so I just use the Google app to read. I might have to check out Mr Reader 🙂

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    • Thanks for the wunderlist suggestion Shelleyrae – I’ve been looking for a good to do app. I must admit I gave up on Good Reads earlier this year when they lost amazon as a source of data – I can’t seem to cope unless I have my exact edition of a book in my list and it became increasingly time consuming to find alternative sources to populate good reads with. As collectorz is for me only I can use all the amazon data I like 😉

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      • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

        I like the Wunderlist app – I just set up folders for each month, add the titles and due dates to the appropriate folders and mark them off as I finish. I like that it also warns me if I am overdue.

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  7. This post is so useful – I’ve been contemplating the evernote app so I am really happy to hear that it is so day-to-day practical. I shall go and download it now. I use Dropbox for ‘cloud’ stuff at the moment, but I want something that sorts stuff out too, rather than just another folder. Most of my app purchases at the moment are about travel as I’m going overseas in a bit – the latest one was a foodlovers guide to Paris by Patricia Wells (drooling!). Got to get my cake shops all lined up! [Bibliolathas]

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    • I use Dropbox too – but more as a backup really or for some work stuff – whereas evernote is more of a store of all my thoughts and ideas and things I want to read later – and yes you can organise to your heart’s content with various notebooks and tags and whatnot – I love that aspect of it

      I am sooooooo jealous of your impending trip – Paris….cakes….sigh

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