Kindle iPhone app
Before the tablet revolution began this year, Amazon had the reigning e-reader platform with its Kindle device. However, the company has quickly expanded its digital book offering, and its Kindle app for the iPad is one of the best all-round e-reader apps out there. The Kindle app comes with pretty much everything you would expect from an e-reader, including access to the Kindle bookstore, a built-in dictionary and synchronization with various other devices that use an Amazon Kindle account. If you want a vanilla e-reader app, it's either this one or the iBooks app, which Apple will make sure you have on your iPad the moment you buy it.
Its interface is clean and easy to use, but what makes Stanza a great e-reader app is the sheer amount of free content available through the software. Whereas many other big-name apps are tied to online bookstores that push users toward paid content, Stanza's bookstore is more a collection of various libraries, both paid and free. Included in the list of download sources is the massive Project Gutenberg collection, which features more than 33,000 free e-books. There are also all kinds of other book sources built in to the app, including resources for sheet music, technical books and romance titles.
Full-colour tablets, it seems, were made for comic books. The combination of vivid illustration and book-like interaction makes perfect sense for the medium. And nobody has done comic books better on the tablet than Marvel, the shop behind some of the most memorable comic-book characters out there. The Marvel app lets users choose between paid and free issues for download. The user interface is beautiful, with panel-by-panel full-screen display. If you're a comic-book fan, you owe it to yourself to download this app.
As a newsreader app, Zinio gives users access to a massive amount of content from newspapers and magazines around the world. Take note, however, that you'll have to create an account to view the app's library of paid content. Zinio also has a neat feature called "featured articles" that contains a selection of about two dozen selected stories from various magazines. When we last checked that section of the app, we found everything from a Barack Obama interview in Rolling Stone to a Popular Science feature on Mars. Even if you have no plans to pay for content, Zinio is a pretty cool newsreader app to have around.
ICDL books for children
If the interface of this children's book app looks cluttered, it's only because it offers such a variety of search options. ICDL allows users to preview or read the entirety of thousands of children's books. Users can search by age range, book length, type of characters and even the colour of the book's cover. The reading interface isn't as smooth as high-end apps such as iBooks, but all the usual options are there, including zooming and full-screen. Most of the books we tried were free, although there are many available for purchase. The app itself is free, although its creators urge users to donate, either by giving money or helping translate, recommend and or contribute books.