iOS ereading apps are finally starting to catch up with Moon+ Reader Pro, FBReader, and other stars of the Android world.
TeleRead Editor Chris Meadows checked out Marvin 3 a few months ago and found it to be “the best ereading app for iOS.” It still might be for Chris and others.
But for me at least, the KyBook 2 Reader might be even better. Kudos to developer Konstantin Boukreev.
His gem of an app is out of Russia, by far its main market. Just a fraction of users are here in the U.S., and for all I know, most of the earlier versions might have offered most of the features without my knowing. But KyBook 2 is new to this Yank, anyway.
Alas, KyBook 2 lacks certain amenities within Marvin 3’s impressive feature set (warning: the linked list isn’t necessarily up to date), such as Deep View. This feature makes it easier to get a feel for the book based on keywords and generous helpings of the surrounding words. Still, even without it, KyBook serves up big enough snippets for most people.
But wait! I do see a reference in KyBook’s feature set to “automatic text sumarization,” so maybe it’s there after all.
Yes, documentation could be better even if the interface for the most part is easy enough to puzzle out and, in fact, seems to have been influenced by Marvin’s or vice versa.
For many, KyBook 2’s biggest advantage over Marvin might be the choice of text formats—EPub, FB2, PDF, Mobi and DjVu Reader, among others, not just ePub, CBX and CBR comics.
Both products cannot read DRMed books, and yet they’re so much better than mediocre apps from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and other perps.
I beg the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Copyright Office, Congress, publishers, and everyone else. Whether through changes in anti-trust enforcement or laws, elimination of penalties for noninfringing circumvention of DRM or other means, including voluntary industry ones, please decouple or at least loosen ties between ebooks files and the companies offering them or their reading devices.
This is not just a technical issue or a classic illustration of the way campaign donors and other anti-competitive forces control Washington.
It is also a K-12 and learning issue, and schoolchildren and the rest of us are suffering when, for instance, the standard readers from Amazon and friends offer only limited font selections. That slows reading speed and reduces comprehension.
Yes, just like Marvin, KyBook lets you download your own fonts. By contrast, the pathetic Amazon reading app won’t even display all-text bold within its limited repertoire of fonts.
I haven’t found an all-text bold option within KyBooks, but because I can download my own fonts, including bold ones, I’m surviving even though I very much hope that Bukreev will add such a capability. In fact, how about even an option to vary font weights?
For the above screenshot from Dracula, I sideloaded Crete Round, bolder than many alternatives. Of course, if you want true bolding of all your fonts and want to use a font normally too light, a style sheet might do the trick. KyBook lets you ignore books’ .css styling and add your own.
Doubt that KyBook joins Marvin in leaving Amazon and others in the dust? Take a look at this feature set:
- EPUB, FB2, RTF, PDF, DJVU, MOBI, AZW3, CBR, CBZ, CBT, MP3, M4A, M4B formats
- OPDS catalogs
- Cloud Storage
- Flexible reading mode settings
- Handy cataloguer
- Text-to-speech technology
- Supports e-books in EPUB (DRM-free), FictionBook (fb2, fbz, fb2.zip), TXT, RTF, PDF, DJVU, Comic Book (cbr, cbz, cbt), MobiPocket (mobi), Kindle (azw3), and Audio Book (mp3, m4a, m4b) formats.
- Provides access to enormous collection of free electronic books through OPDS-catalogs support.
- Finds books in your Cloud Storage or anywhere in Internet.
- Saves your books into iCloud, Dropbox, Yandex Disk, Google Drive, OneDrive, Cloud Mail.ru, ownCloud (WebDAV) and Shared folders (SMB/CIFS).
- Allows customize: font, colour theme, text size, text alignment mode, margins, paragraph indention, hyphenations and more.
- Provides easy navigation inside the book using table of content, bookmarks or notes.
- Helps organizing your books, cataloging them, grouping and sorting in different modes.
- Provides detailed information about each of your book.
- Allows choosing book covers from different sources, changing titles and subjects and even more.
- Uses text-to-speech technology to voice any e-book.
- Supports translation of text and the vocabularies in StarDict and Lingvo DSL format.
- Integrates with social networking services.
- Supports of archives in ZIP, RAR and TAR format.
- Provides Speed Reading.
- Allows to stream audio for audio books in Cloud Storage.
- Supports fuzzy search and search using regular expressions in a text book.
- Supports automatic text summarization and precis-writing.
- Supports preview of iWork, Microsoft Office, CSV, HTML files.
- Supports tunneling a connection to OPDS catalog through the Tor network.
Unfortunately, like Marvin, KyBook 2 lacks the same choice of natural voices for TTS that Voice Dream does, but perhaps that will come in the future. Meanwhile I found the TTS interface to be more than satisfactory for my purposes even if the voice selections from Apple aren’t good enough.
On top of everything else, KyBook 2 is handy for touring Google Books and downloading books from there. What’s more, in one swoop, you can add references to hundreds of books from your Calibre library so you can search titles and writers. You’ll still need WiFi. But it’s a nice touch just the same even if other apps have it.
Simply put, if you’re a serious ebooklover, you owe it to yourself to give Kybook 2 a try.
Details: $3.99 and $1.99 upgrades available. I went with the $3.99 one. Sorry—I don’t have handy a list of the advantages of Pro (why isn’t this spelled out in the Apple app store?). I tested version 1.0.0, released October 25, 2016. File size is 29.1 MB. You’ll need iOS 8.1 or later.
About that garish default screen: Yes, you can change the theme to something more subdued.
One more negative of KyBook compared to Marvin: You apparently must stick to preset color schemes for displaying books: Day, Sepia and Night. You can’t vary the colors within them. Or am I missing something?
Obvious questions: Why KyBook? No earthy jokes please with K-Y Jelly in mind. Is the KyBook name because this is supposed to be a smooth ereader? Also, judging from material on the site, KyBook may have had a built-in Web browser earlier. If so, why did the developer drop it?
Related: Wikipedia comparison of iOS ebook software. Meanwhile, for a reminder of the benefits of boldface, go here even if the post is about dedicated ereading hardware rather than about apps.
At a guess, the name is contracted from the name of the company that made it, Kolyvan. Which may in turn derive in some manner from the name of the developer, Konstantin Bukreev. I’m not familiar with the rules for how Russian abbreviations and nicknames work, but it seems like a possibility.
@Chris: Great guess. I wonder if the name would be different if the developer knew of KY’s meaning to people in the U.S. (beyond the initials for the state of Kentucky). Anyway, I hope you give KyBook a try and share your impressions. No big deal if Marvin is still your fave! It’s indeed one of the greats.
I share your enthusiasm for KyBook. While I loved Marvin for years, its UI is so confusing that I could never remember where the control I needed was.
KyBooks lack of English documentation is probably its weakest element.
@david I stumbled on the way to create your own screen-color theme: slide left on the “Night” circle, and you’ll see a blank circle with “Add” in the middle.
@Jesse: Thanks for the tip. On another topic, I’m trying to figure out if KyBook will now let you do email exports of notes and highlights. David