Best PDF/Book Reader for iPad

With the “stay at home”, “shelter in place” or whatever it’s being called, I’ve found that I now have a lot more time to read. I have dozens of PDF magazines that I’ve downloaded (and store in a DEVONthink v3 database on my home server), and want to get started on. But what to read them on, and which app to use? I have an 27" iMac, but it requires me to sit at my desk to read, which isn’t necessarily the most comfortable for reading a book or magazine. I have a 16" MacBook Pro, which I can take anywhere in the house to lounge about and read, though it doesn’t do well outdoors in bright sunlight. I also have an 10.5" iPad Pro with a detachable keyboard, that can also go anywhere, and is light and easy to read on, though it also doesn’t do well in bright sun outside. And lastly, I have an iPhone 11 Max Pro, but with my “old-ish” eyes, reading a book or magazine on this, wouldn’t be my first choice.

So to that end, I’m leaning towards the iPad. But alas, which app should I use? Apple’s Books? Amazon’s Kindle Reader app? GoodReader? Readdle’s Documents? Adobe Reader? Something else? It would be great to be able to sync the locations, so that I can read on other devices, if I’d like. But it’s not 100% necessary.

What’s your favorite way to read a book or PDF on the iPad? Why?

To date, I haven’t found a single solution for reading on an iPad. I’ve found that PDFs read best in Acrobat, ePubs do best in Apple Books. Kindle books in the Kindle app. However, it is a PITA to keep organized this way.

Personally, I think the Kindle format sucks, much to the shock and consternation of many of my friends and relatives who LOOOVE their Kindles and Kindle Fires. I was given a Kindle eReader years ago and hated it. I found it rendered type, and especially type with Illustrations, worse than other eReaders. And reading a Kindle formatted book an iPad or Mac is even worse.

I use Apple Files to read PDFs. The pencil is good for annotations.

I have used Readdle Documents for years as well.

I have used GoodReader for reading pdf files and that has worked well.


Apple’'s Books works well for PDFs and has the advantage of iCloud integration.

For at least the past 10-12 years I have settled on the Kindle reader on my standard iPad for reading both books and my daily newspaper (in replica mode of the printed version). I’ll use my iPhone for books if I’m out waiting for my wife somewhere. It’s not so good for the newspaper in that size. My wife prefers real books in either hard cover or paperback and wants the physical newspaper that is delivered. I agree that reading on the iPad outdoors is not so good so I don’t do that much. I’ve never much tried magazines. Books are very important to me though in my retirement years. Just started John Grisham’s latest, “Camino Winds.”

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I don’t have my iPad handy, but my phone has Books and Kindle. The iPad has at least those. I try and put everything into Books just for ease of remembering where things are. I tend to forget I have Kindle and am always pleasantly surprised when I find a forgotten book there.

Agreed on the outdoor reading, and my older iPad tends to pick up heat out there too. I have an overabundance of real books for outside reading. :slight_smile:


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I do keep my collection of Take Control books in the Books app though. They’d be pretty hard to find in the Kindle collection which numbers in the hundreds.

For me, PDF Viewer (a very hard to search for name) on iPad is the best.

Lately, I’ve also been intrigued by Highlights (another poor name for finding via search) but I haven’t given it a fair run yet.

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I have been using GoodReader for academic reading on an iPad mini during the past couple of years, I find it well worth the investment with it’s highlighting, markup and note taking features, etc. I tried an Amazon device but just couldn’t figure out why they are so popular. The only issue I have with GoodReader is the extreme slowness of PDF loading from iCloud, but my workaround is to copy all PDFs to the device manually.

It probably doesn’t help that it’s an old iPad mini - the original version 1! It still makes a great e-reader though :slight_smile: I do have the Kindle app installed for a couple of Amazon e-book purchases too. I also still use it for reading e-mail (including TidBITS) and the odd game… FlappyBird anyone?

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If its a PDF and a functional/work/manual type of document (and not in DevonTHINK which is a whole other deal) it’s in a folder imaginatively called PDFs, stored on Dropbox and read by PDF Expert, my favorite PDF reader/editor.

If its a PDF and its a book or a magazine and not ‘useful’ or work-related they all live in Books, the Mac will launch it into Preview, the iPad or iPhone will read it directly in Books.

My son uses Papers for his research and academic cataloguing of his PDFs and Ive checked it out but documents such as that are all handled inside DevonTHINK for me.

if there is a pdf that I want to store/keep, then GoodReader. I’m using that for years on a regular basis.
It is also useful when it comes to .zip files - GoodReader cab download, unzip and send that file to other app’s

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Readdle Docs, synced to a folder in Box, so I can throw PDFs into it from my Mac and read them on my iPad.

Living in AZ I often read outdoors in (very) bright light, and am surprised how poorly iOS devices can handle that after all these years. Does anyone have suggestions for that kind of situation?

It’s hard to beat e-ink screens like the Kindle Paperwhite for reading in bright sun. You can turn the backlight off and the text is clear with great contrast and a single charge will last days and days and days. The Paperwhite isn’t much use for anything other than reading e-books, but it’s light and inexpensive enough that I find having a dedicated e-reader makes more sense than straining my eyes trying to read an LCD or OLED screen when I’m outside.

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I agree completely. An e-ink Kindle only does one thing, but it does that thing better than any other product.

The PDFs that I’m reading are photography magazines, with some full page color landscape or portrait images. I wonder how well the Kindle would display that compared to the iPad? Any ideas?

The Kindle Paperwhite has a limited grayscale display (e-ink). It’s really tuned for text. I don’t think reading a photography magazine on it would be a very satisfying experience.

I second that. I do much of my reading on Goodreader and use the highlighting / annotation features all the time. I use Goodreader to connect to 2 Dropbox folders, one “stuff to read” and one “stuff read” :slight_smile: I download papers on my Mac all the time and then just dump them into my “stuff to read” folder, so they are right there on my ipad. Christopher is right in that download speed is not the fastest but its perfectly fine for most files.

I had only one issue recently when papers from the Economist ended up corrupted on Goodreader (reproducible, but not 100%, so unclear what the problem was). I reported that to the GR guys and got a quick response but I think it hasn’t been fixed.

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I suggest MapleRead SE. You might also take a look at