I won’t pretend that until this morning I even had a clue Sony is into the eBook business, but now that I have taken a look at the online Reader store, I have to say that it is good enough to give any similar service a run for its money. The web version of the service has been around for quite a while, the Android app was released a while back, and now, the official Sony Reader client has come to iPhone and iPad. The universal app can be used to manage all the purchases made from the Reader Store, but if you aren’t interested in that, Reader for iOS can prove to be a pretty good eBook and PDF viewer for books you already have from other sources. The app has a slick interface, and can really hold its own against iBooks in terms of features.
To get the most out of the app, you will have to sign up for a new account. Registration is open to US and Canada users only, and can only be done from the Reader Store website. If you already have an account, simply sign in from the app’s welcome screen. Although Reader is a client of the Reader Store, you cannot purchase new eBooks from within the app. Purchases have to be made from the web store, but they sync almost instantaneously with the app.
You can also use iTunes to transfer books to Reader. Your personal Reader Store collection appears in the Purchased section, while books from other sources are listed in Library. To help you manage things better, the app lets users create multiple collections for each library (think of these as folders). Hitting the info icon next to any title will allow you to tinker with its metadata.
The actual reading area is quite neat and not too cluttered with unnecessary options. From the settings area within each book, you can change display options and formatting. Reader supports gesture control for screen brightness, and also has a night mode. Page Turn effects include Flip, Slide, Fade and Cut. In addition to all this, there is an app-specific orientation lock that works independent of the phone orientation lock. The in-book search feature is pretty strong, which is something that’s missing in iBooks.
If you are a fan of eBooks, but have gotten a little bored of Apple’s official reader app, give Sony’s Reader a whirl. It is available as a free download, currently only available in the US and Canada.