On getting my iPhone one of the first things I did was to check out the App Store. After downloading over twenty different apps I then started searching words of things I was interested in. “Journalism”, “WordPress”, “Social Networking” and then “Pride and Prejudice”. What excited me was that I could now take my favourite Austen novel everywhere with me without having to lug around a whole book and without any cost to myself. There are a few free versions, although there are also plenty of ones you can pay for, and each boasts different features, layouts and themes. In total at the moment there are six free downloads of the novel (not including library apps that allow you to download within the application) and they are very different from each other.
As the iPhone is backlit it’s great to read in the dark or if you are in a dim car, and it’s just a great gizmo to get your hands on. So, I’ve read the first chapter of each, played around and checked out all the settings and reviews and figured I would write my findings below!
Note: I’ve included the full title of each, however all of them can be found simply by typing “Pride and Prejudice” into the search function of the App Store. The reviews below are also in the order found upon searching (and the order shown in the picture).
1) BeamItDown Software- Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice 1.3MB
App Store user rating: *** (and a half) stars
This is my favourite of all the versions. it’s very simple, has very practical options to alter the appearance and is a complete breeze to use. It doesn’t have a “turn page” option, instead it scrolls constantly down the screen to the end of the book. There is an auto-scroller, where you can tilt it to a certain point and it scrolls down for you and changes the speed depending on how much you tilt it (you can also alter the speed in settings) but I found this a little erratic, and even dizzying and I far preferred manually scrolling the screen.
I read Dracula using this reader, and found it a complete breeze. You can change the background colour, the font size, font style and colour and there is even a night mode. I had good fun changing the colours for red font and “blush” background to get me right in the Vampiric mood, however you can also choose some heavy contrasts for easy reading.
There’s a great contents option that shows you your *Curren Reading Position* however it’s pretty hard to gauge how far through a chapter you are, as there are no page numbers or percentage, and sometimes the chapters matching up to your reading position is a little bit inconsistent. There is a simple double-click function to get in and out of the menu, and you can skip a whole screen-full of text by clicking at the bottom, which works better for someone who prefers to read block by block. It also saves your place the second you click out.
If you’re a leisurely reader, then I would recommend this app.
My rating: ****
2) Your Mobile Apps Inc.- Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen 606KB
App Store user rating: *** (and a half) stars
Although the menu icon you click to view the App is a bit skewed this application gives you a ton of basic options to choose from. There are more colour choices for changing the appearance of the app than the BeamItDown version, and it also has a night mode, however the interface is a bit more awkward- requiring you to return to the menu after every single chapter and click through to start reading again. Although this doesn’t seem like a huge problem, it’s actually a bit of a nightmare and ruins the momentum of the reading.
I find the menu system a little bit sterile and boring, and it was pretty boring with the names of the colours (come on- “Antique Parchment” sounds so much better than “Pale Goldenrod” or “Bisque”) but these are minor qualms really.
Other than that it is pretty similar to the BeamItDown version, works on a scrolling down basis (although it doesn’t have the auto-scroller, but it does allow you to put in bookmarks manually (and have a whole load of them- which can be a great study tool to save references) and also saves your place when you exit out abruptly.
If you’re studying this book and need to keep references, then I recommend this app.
My rating: ***
3) xCube Labs.- Pride and Prejudice:Glider Edition 1.5MB
App Store user rating: No Ratings
If you want a wealth of options, this app is the best out. However, sometimes less really is more- and this just proves it. What masquerades itself as the all-choices app actually is one of the most difficult to read. The icon is sticks on your menu is lovely, and suits the iPhone well however here all benefits stop. It DOES offer an auto-scroller, manual scroller, page turn option, side-slide page, ultimate control over layout (font, background, alignment, spacing, size, paragraph indenting etc), a sleep-mode, interface sounds, the ability to control your iPod music through the app, contrast and so on… but by the end I was left screaming “TOO MUCH!”.
It does have several functions I love: A search function (look up key terms in the book, it shows you in order all the references to that word, the chapter they fall in and so on. A fantastic (and smooth looking) contents system.
However it also has some stupid options: A “Social” option- allowing you to sync it to your facebook or twitter and say “Reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” (sample option) or similar- I think this is sort of pointless.
Yet some of these functions screw up. There is no where (that I can see) that allows you to change the colour of the font or the background, which is a standard option in most ereaders. The scrolling-page function stuffs up if you change your mind and decide to start turning the page (sometimes you get half sentences on the page). And the font spacing can be changed to stupid extremes (to the point where it is unreadable). The title page is also extremely boring.
While it said it was a “glider” version, I found myself clicking the wrong things all the time, struggling to get the menu, accidentally turning multiple pages at once and just generally blundering around the app.
If you need to find out how many times they say the word “Lizzy” in the book though, this is a fantastic tool and saves you a load of time. So, if you are a bit of a control freak and love having a billion different gadgets to play with then this is probably the app for you.
My rating: **
4) KiwiTech- Pride and Prejudice (Classique) 4.9MB
App Store user rating: *** (and a half) stars
If you want something that gives you that “regency feel” and is most like a real book, then this application is beautiful. It works on a very realistic book-like basis- turn-page function only, has an old-style parchmentish background with swirly text. It also has a nice little “About the Book” page and shows you the page numbers constantly. It even shows an actual bookmark (complete with tassle) marking the page when you exit out or go to the menu, and then shows it again when you go back in to the application. The whole thing is designed to be elegant, but unfortunately falls a little short of it.
If you have only downloaded Pride and Prejudice then you are bombarded with ads at the beginning, meaning it takes a while to load into it. Some of the attempts at the “Classique” feel are a little over-the-top, including the attempt at an aged looking front cover, and the inclusion of a back cover. The contents page works well, and allows you to navigate at ease- but other than the page numbering there is no indication about how far through the book you are.
There are no extra options (which are the one thing that really gives an ebook an edge over the real thing) such as changing the layout or the colour theme, which is disappointing, and it doesn’t really bring anything fresh to the table- falling short of a real book in terms of getting that antique feel, and not quite reaching another ebook in terms of functionality.
Considering it’s a chunker of a download, I expected more.
This app is great for people who want a slightly more realistic reading experience, and who like reading “pretty” books.
My Rating: **
5) Publish This, LLC- Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice 3.3MB
App Store user rating: No rating
I actually quite like the SunScroll system. It works on a 3D page-turn appearance (meaning the words distort as you turn the page) and even has sound effects (although these are annoying). It’s very simple, and basically allows you to change the font colour and size, add bookmarks, and has this nice regular interface using suns (to show chapters and options). It also has a search function, but it’s a little less hi-tech than the Glider version and takes you to the first entry where you can click next-next-next etc.
The whole application is a bit glitchy, but I think it is nicer for children- being extremely simple to use, and not having any stupid options. There is a night reading option, and a couple of other extraneous ones, but these are pretty standard on most ereaders. The icon that it puts on your menu is also pretty yuck. It isn’t anything special, but it does what it is meant to do.
Choose this one if- you are getting a younger child to read it (under 15) or you aren’t particularly techy.
My rating: **
6) LoudReader Inc- Pride and Prejudice (by Jane Austen) 1.5MB
App Store user rating: *** stars
It might put a nice icon on your menu, but this app is difficult to use. It seems to labour over the smallest requests (changing chapters etc) and is made with little to no logic in mind. It’s hard to fiddle around with, and while it offers some cool background (including textures)it doesn’t offer anything extra than any other app.
It uses a scroll down function, but to switch chapters it turns the page. It’s nice to be able to skip through chapters easily (and you can look through a list of chapters as well) but it seems to struggle to switch the chapter. It does allow you to read in blocks (tap the screen in the top or the bottom quarter) but it’s a pretty average way of reading and doesn’t really do it particularly smoothly.
It’s far too easy to click the screen in the wrong place or the wrong number of times and end up on a different chapter, page and section. Little problems like these really make it difficult to bother with.
Admirable mentions: Pinching in and out to increase and decrease text size respectively, sideways phone view.
My rating: *
I have had this free App for a long time that is called Stanza. It’s fantastic- allowing you to get loads of original, creative commons and other books for free. It works on a really simple page-turn basis, and I absolutely adore the ease of reading with it. It shows a little pie-chart with how far through each book you are, gives you a percentage, tells you page numbers, allows you to change appearance, set night-viewing, has bookmarks, sideways phone view and everything. You can download several extremely similar versions of Pride and Prejudice through this app:
+ Feedbooks: Pride and Prejudice
Has a great front-cover image and a nice blurb about Austen.
This is very easy to read, has an easy flow, separates the chapters nicely and just reads like a novel.
+Munseys: Pride and Prejudice
Doesn’t let you see the front cover that is the icon option. Has an extraneous list of contents (unclickable, no information, a bit pointless).
Simple, easy to read.
+ Project Gutenburg: Pride and Prejudice
Really simple, but it doesn’t have the cover-art and you don’t get to see the image that is on the icon.