Barnes & Noble Launches Reader App for iPad, Allows eBook Sharing

Further legitimizing the iPad as a book reader, Barnes & Noble introduced its reader app [App Store, Free] for the iPad today. While not as flashy as Apple’s iBooks, the BN eReader appears to be a step ahead of the Kindle app and offers features not available on either competing apps. The Barnes & Noble app offers the ability to loan out your eBooks to a friend for up to two weeks, and lets you see the books as they were intended, using the publishers formatting suggestion. It also allows you to save formatting themes. The expected features are included as well, such as highlighting, adding notes, and bookmarks (tap the bottom right corner to dog-ear the page). BN eReader also supports syncing between other devices such as the Nook or BN eReader for iPhone.

The new eReader has a few downsides, however.

When you launch the app, it requires you to sign in or create an account. This is handled via their website, not in-app. After completing the sign up process, you have to reopen the app and sign in. As with the Kindle app, you can’t buy books from within the app either. And then even when trying to download a free book, B&N requires you to enter your credit card information. Being forced to go to their website to purchase books might be more acceptable if they formatted the site to fit the iPad.

The app buttons and widgets don’t feel like an iPad app. They use on/off toggles like the iPhone OS, but they don’t look or function like native iPad widgets. Action buttons are unattractive and look more like website buttons than application buttons.

I noticed that the load time for even their small 4-page introduction eBook seemed rather long. At the bottom of the page is a slider that shows you what page in the book you currently are on, which continuously showed me the wrong information. The search box also provided inaccurate information, suggestion my search result was on page three, when it actually appeared on page four.

I currently prefer iBooks for reading, though the book sharing and note taking options of the BN eReader app has put this is a close second place, despite the app issues.

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