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August 12, 2015

Summer reading: ebook apps for Lumia

With these ebook apps for Lumia, there’s no need to lug a heavy bag of hardback books to the beach.

Earlier this summer, I traveled to France and Amsterdam for vacation. In one small suitcase, I had to pack for both a fancy wedding and a four-day cycling trip through the Dordogne.

That meant I had little to no room for “extra” items such as books–heavy and unwieldy items when you need to travel light.

Luckily, my Lumia and ebook apps such as the ones below saved me from hours of boredom on the long transcontinental flights and train trips in hot, stuffy carriages. (Note to France: Why doesn’t your country have air-conditioning?)

These apps paired with the new Microsoft Lumia 640 XL, which features a big, beautiful 5.7-inch screen, makes for a perfect digital-reading experience.

Left to right: Amazon Kindle, Bookviser, OverDrive Media Console

Amazon Kindle (free)

This app has allowed me to catch up on reading not just on vacation, but while cooling my heels at the dentist’s office, on the subway, and even in line at the grocery store.

The Kindle app gives you access to more than a million books; you can download them from the app or from your PC. If you’d rather not purchase individual books, check out the Kindle Unlimited subscription (first 30 days free, $9.99 a month). It gives you unfettered access to read and listen to almost 8,500 books on your Lumia, tablet or PC.

Customize your reading experience by adjusting screen brightness, font size, margin width, and line height. And if you’re reading in bed, you can choose a black background so you don’t disturb your sleeping partner.

In addition, Amazon Whispersync’s technology means you can start reading a book on your Lumia and pick up where you left off on your Surface, or vice versa.

Bookviser (free)

One neat thing about the Bookviser app is that you can sync books you’ve uploaded to your OneDrive account. You can get more books directly from Bookviser as well as other ebook retailers such as Smashwords (indie books).

In addition, you can get books for free—no subscription required–from FeedBooks (free classics!) and ManyBooks. I just downloaded Agatha Christie’s “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” at no cost.

Bookviser also lets you adjust your reading experience. Choose from a variety of fonts (such as Comic Sans MS and Malgun Gothic), font sizes and line spacing, and backgrounds. And for easy access, pin a book to your Lumia’s Start screen.

OverDrive Media Console (free)

I use this app every day. OverDrive taps directly into your local public library—more than 18,000 libraries are available worldwide. After finding your local library in the app, sign in with your library-card account number and PIN.

After that, you can check out and download up to five audio and ebooks for several weeks. At the end of the lending period, the EPUB books and digital audiobooks automatically disappear from your account. No late fees!

This last feature is especially helpful to those of us (ahem) who forget to check in their library books on time and incur hefty fines as a result. Another feature I like: If you’re listening to an audiobook, pin it to your Start screen and the tile will tell you what chapter you’re listening to and how much time you’ve spent listening to it.

Give these ebook apps a whirl and let us know what you think. What are you reading now?