Developer: INKSTONE
Price: $199
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

MegaReader, from Inkstone Software, offers up another take on the popular realm of eBook readers. While the app itself doesn’t make any obvious mistakes, its late entry into a highly competitive corner of the App Store populated by high-profile and well-supported competitors makes MegaReader a lesser choice for reading on the go.

I give credit to MegaReader for putting together a functional app. It all works as advertised, functioning like you’d expect a reader app to function. It comes with 22 titles installed for offline reading, plus the ability to access several free book catalogs. When you go into a text, there are a ton of options for formatting your display font and colors; if you ever want to read Siddhartha in 40-point Veranda Bold font with an aqua-and-mauve color scheme, you can.

The problem with MegaReader is that it does not offer anything that you probably don’t already have on your iOS device, done either just as well or better. If you already have iBooks installed on your device (and you probably do); and if you also have Amazon Kindle installed on your device (and you probably do); and if you also have the Borders reader, the Barnes & Noble reader, Stanza, or any other favored eBook reader; then you can already do pretty much everything MegaReader can do.

In fact, you’ll be able to do less with MegaReader, because like any ebook reader not attached to a major seller, there’s no way to purchase books in-app, and no major sellers linked to the app. Thus, MegaReader cannot offer the titles that most people will want to read. You won’t find the latest Stephen King or Jonathan Franzen novel on MegaReader. And if you have — like me — made book purchases through those other programs, you’ll be even less inclined to clutter up your device with another eReader.

Stacked against those odds, MegaReader would have to offer up a pretty spectacular user experience to make itself stand out. It does not. Its interface, navigation, and formatting options are all reflective of other readers. It does boast that it can access 1.8 million free books, but it’s the same free books that you can access and/or load through any other reader app, like the complete contents of Project Gutenburg or the Baen Free Library. MegaReader offers a convenient direct download link, but the books themselves can be easily had in your Kindle or Nook app. The one novel offering is a “timed reading” mode (a carryover from their QuickReader speed-reading app), but that’s of limited appeal. Importing other DRM-free books requires the use of another app (Calibre, an e-book manager).

Ultimately, MegaReader is competing in a crowded and highly competitive corner of the App Store, and while it isn’t a bad app, it doesn’t have the weapons to win the war, especially as a paid app. It tries to impress with its free books catalog, which may win over fans of the classics who don’t want to purchase online. But it simply isn’t offering enough to entice most users away from the likes of iBooks or Kindle, especially if they are inclined to purchase books in addition to downloading free ones.

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