A Comparison of Two-Column Reading in Marvin, Kindle and iBooks


Marvin vs. the Competition

If you’ve read some of my other articles about eBook readers, you may already know that my preferred reading layout is portrait auto-scroll. But since Marvin, my preferred eBook reader for the iPad, does not yet have an auto-scroll mode, in the meantime, I like to read with two columns in landscape.

What makes Marvin so great is the fine-tuning control over every aspect of page layout while reading. To demonstrate this, I’ve created screen shots of my preferred reading layout in Marvin, and then the closest I could get in the other two most popular eBook readers for the iPad–Kindle and iBooks.

Here’s how I like the page layout in Marvin:

Marvin Two-Column Landscape

This is a comfortable reading size for my over-40 eyes, enough space between paragraphs to set them apart without indenting, comfortable line spacing, and very small margins so there is no wasted space. The color scheme is my indoor daytime theme. At night I use lavender text on a black background, and in bright sunlight only black on pure white will do.

I also love how the reading screen in Marvin shows you at a glance how far you are in the whole book, and how many pages remain in the current chapter, without taking up a lot of screen space.

Now, for comparison, here’s the closest approximation I was about to get in the Kindle app for iPad:

Kindle Two-Column Landscape

This is the smallest margin setting–look at all that wasted space! I’m also forced into indented paragraphs, and worst of all–fully justified text. I hate, hate, hate full justified text above all and this is the primary reason I will go through the effort of stripping DRM from my Kindle books so I can read them in Marvin.

Amazon does not care about readers or the reading experience, as evidenced by the paltry page layout settings in the Kindle app. They only care about selling more books.

Now, if you think that is bad, have a look at iBooks for iPad:

iBooks Two-Column Landscape

Really? This is appalling! Look at those huge margins, giant gaps between paragraphs and indentation on top of it. If I tried to read like this, I would be turning the page every five seconds. But that’s not surprising–Apple’s default apps are usually pretty pathetic compared to pretty much anything you get from third-party developers.

What is surprising is that so many readers put up with these apps, when an eReader app as amazing as Marvin is completely free! Learn more in my review of Marvin for iPad. Compare large screen shots of these three readers side by side in the gallery below.


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