Editors' Note: The download button opens the iTunes App Store, where you may continue the download process. You must have iTunes installed with an active iTunes account in order to download and install the software. This download may not be available in some countries.
For people who love to read but don't have a lot of extra cash to spend on books, nothing beats the public library. (Thanks Ben Franklin!) Even better, in recent years, many libraries have started offering e-books that you can check out for a few weeks, just like the real thing. Unfortunately, despite the plethora of e-book readers in the App Store, you couldn't read these DRM-protected library titles on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad.
Until now, that is. Bluefire Reader supports not only ePub and PDF formats, but also the Adobe DRM used by most libraries. During testing, we checked out Dennis Lehane's "Shutter Island" and Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," both free of charge, both without getting in the car and driving to the library. However, we had to jump through some hoops to make it happen, and the end result wasn't always perfect. Indeed, if you're expecting this process to have Kindle-like simplicity, don't.
For starters, you need a library card and/or an online account with your local library. When we signed into mine, the "ebook" section listed only NetLibrary (which has a pretty weak selection) as a download source. However, we remembered previously downloading audiobooks via OverDrive--a service that also carries e-books.
Sure enough, when we clicked through, we were able to browse and download from OverDrive's much larger e-book selection. (It's where we scored the two aforementioned titles.) Your mileage may vary, but we suspect that's where most libraries will lead you.
OverDrive offers e-books in ePub and PDF formats. Whenever possible, choose the former; reading PDFs on an iPhone or iPod is not pleasant because you're looking at, well, PDFs, not formatted e-book files. You can't adjust the font size or much of anything else. ePubs afford a much, much better reading experience.
Alas, format notwithstanding, the book you want may not be available for checkout. As with print editions in a real library, there are a limited number of licenses to go around. (Likewise, most books "expire" after three weeks, meaning they're no longer readable unless you check them out again.) We were able to place a hold on popular titles like "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Help," but without knowing when they would become available.
Before you can actually read any downloaded book, you'll need to install Adobe Digital Editions (available free for Windows and Mac OS). With that step done, you can download your library book--which you'll need to open at least once in Digital Editions before you can transfer it to Bluefire Reader. And to do that, you'll use iTunes' "sideloading" feature. Check out Bluefire's help page for complete instructions.
Whew! Like we said, all this is enough to make one long for the simplicity of a Kindle. But once you learn the ropes, it's actually pretty quick and easy. And, hey, isn't it worth a little effort to score e-books for free?
Bluefire Reader is the best way to read Adobe Content Server protected eBooks on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. With Bluefire Reader you can read EPUB and PDF eBooks from retailers, publishers and libraries around the world. Bluefire Reader is designed with you, the reader, in mind. With just a tap you can highlight, bookmark, annotate, look up a definition and share excerpts via email, Facebook and Twitter. Have a large library of eBooks? You can organize your books into collections. Want to export your annotations? You can do that too! Looking for a particular passage? Search results are presented in their context, making it easy to find the exact character name or passage youre looking for. Bluefire Reader now supports reading location synchronization! Start reading in Bluefire Reader on your iPad; open Bluefire Reader later in the day on your iPhone and pickup right where you left off! Bookstores and publishers around the world use the Bluefire white-label platform to power their branded apps. Try Bluefire Reader today and see why!
What's new in this version:
Miscellaneous bugfixes and enhancements