Over the weekend, I decided that I was going to install a good comic book reader app on my iPad. With the iPad’s 9.7 inch color screen, it’s perfect for such media. I know there are apps in the app store that allow you to purchase and subscribe to comics through the app but I was looking for more of a standalone comic book reader that didn’t rely on any one store and was able to read the popular cbr/cbz format as well as pdf. Below are the ones that I found that seemed to be pretty well rounded and offered quite a few bells and whistles. They are not in any specific order but I can tell you that the one I finally chose to use was Bookman by Bookman Labs. All the other readers are quite capable however and you may like them more. It all depends on your individual wants and needs. Note: I did try all these apps out except for Comic Zeal due to the fact that it costs $7.99 while all the other ones were free.
Bookman – FREE – As I stated above, Bookman is the app I finally chose as the comic book reader I wanted to keep on my iPad. What I really liked about Bookman was how it displays and organizes comic books. It uses the familiar “shelf” system similar to what iBooks uses with the ability to create custom libraries. When reading comics, it was also one of the faster ones I tried with almost zero load time for each page. I also really appreciated the fact that you could browse each page with a handy thumbnail system so you could jump to pages. Most of the other readers I tried did not have this function and made you flip through the entire book to get to a certain page. Like with most of the other app, you can transfer your collection using iTunes or through FTP. I do wish it had a slightly cooler, more comic book themed icon though. (5.25.11 Update – Bookman isn’t really free anymore. The developer turned this once great free app into a bloated ad supported Lite app. To get rid of apps, you have to pay for the Pro version. I can’t really recommend the new Lite version anymore.)
CloudReaders – FREE – CloudReaders is a fairly basic comic book reader. Layout wise, it is fairly similar to ComicBookLover but the one thing it lacked was support for thumbnails of the cover. That means that each one of your comic books have the same generic icon which I didn’t like at all. Reading books is also a bit laggy however the app does let you zoom in pretty far. CloudReader also lets you tag your colletion which can be helpful for organizing. The app over all though is a bit simplistic but for a basic reader, it’s not bad. This app allows you to transfer comics over iTunes, WiFi through http, and even Bluetooth.
ComicBookLover – FREE – This one I really liked as it offered a very clean user interface and I liked the fact that it did show thumbnails of each comic you had loaded up. I however did not like the fact that there was really no way to organize your collection from the app itself. To do so, you need to use an external Mac app which I really didn’t want to be bothered with. ComicBookLover however does offer the functionality of being able to transfer your collection by using iTunes or by FTP over WiFi which I found quite useful. Reading books is easy as you just swipe left and right but fast swiping causes a bit of lag. Still though, this one is a good one to check out.
Comic Zeal – $7.99 – From what I’ve read, Comic Zeal seems to be the top of the line comic book reader. Even with a quick glace of the screenshots, I can already tell that it would be an app that I would like. However, because it’s $7.99, I didn’t want to commit to a purchase due to the fact that there were so many other free alternative options out there.
I am however including it in the Top 5 list because again, many people praise the app and it does have some really high marks and reviews on iTunes.
ComicFlow – FREE – Comic Flow is another comic book reader similar to both ComicBookLover and CloudReaders. It has a much better interface than the other two and I really like the large thumbnails it uses for each cover. You transfer titles over using iTunes or with WebDAV. I’m not really too familiar with WebDAV so I couldn’t really try this out.
Again, reading comics is pretty straight forward on this one but since the current FTP client I use doesn’t support WebDAV, other apps that supported strait FTP or HTTP won out.
04/22/12 Update – Just reviewed ComicFlow and actually really like it despite having to use WebDAV. Check out the full review here.
Stanza – Stanza is one of the original eBook readers on the iPad. It has a rich interface with lots of features. It only just recently added support for comic book reading. It however isn’t a dedicated comic book reader so the interface is really designed for eBooks. Still though, it’s free and worth a try seeings as it also makes a great eBook reader if you don’t want to use the iBooks.