Stanza eBook Reader Review for iOS

A few weeks ago, I got around to downloading some books into Stanza on my iPod Touch, and now I consider Stanza a must have App for the iPod Touch or iPhone. Stanza is one of the freebies from the iTunes App Store.

Overall, I am quite impressed. I have been rereading 1984 for myself and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for my kids. Stanza keeps track of your last page in all the books you are reading, so switching between books is easy.

The main menu offers links to downloading public domain books directly to your iPod/iPhone. They also have an OS X and Windows version of Stanza that can convert PDFs to ePub format books, the standard book format supported by Stanza. This conversion was a bit primitive when I tried it, but is sure to improve as the product matures.

The display font is configurable, so you can make the font larger or smaller to suit your preference. You can also turn off the iPod status bar for an extra line of text. There is also an option for darkening the background or inverting the color scheme to reduce eye strain.

For navigation, Stanza provides three tap zones. The left zone turns one page back. The right zone turns one page forward. The middle zone opens the navigation bars where you can use the slider to move to any page in the current chapter, or return to the main menu. I would have also liked the ability to jump entire chapters. Most of the time, I navigate using the same hand that is holding the iPod.

The display supports screen rotation, so you can rotate your iPod horizontally and read in wide-screen. This feature was not a big plus for me, because the screen would rotate when I read while lying on my side. Fortunately, there is an option in the configuration to lock the screen rotation in standard or wide, depending on how you open the book.

When I run into a word I don’t know, I exit Stanza and open WeDict to look it up. When returning to Stanza, it automatically loads the book I was reading at the page where I left off.

Since I usually have my iPod with me, Stanza has been great for trips to the doctor or dentist. I find it much more convenient than carrying around a paperback. The only drawback to relying on the iPod to read books I ran into was when flying. They make you turn your iPod off on take-off and landing, leaving you with about 30-40 minutes of the flight where you cannot read. On the other hand, with the iPod Touch, you do not have to fidget with the airplane book light. And how many books can also play your favorite music?

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