Main content

Find the Right Reading System

How you choose to read a book depends a lot on your lifestyle. If you read for pleasure, you may be looking for a reading system that narrates the text from cover to cover, with very little fuss. But if you're a university student, you'll likely be interested in complex navigation, review, and reference capabilities.

In order to help select the reading system that's right for you, we have tested many common reading applications. Their performance is ranked in eight key areas of accessibility. Read more about these features, the formats, and our testing here.

We have reviewed apps in iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS. Many apps are offered on multiple platforms, and support for certain features often varies across operating systems, even with the same app. This document lists each app separately under each operating system. You can jump directly to your preferred operating system by finding its top-level heading below.

A couple of apps scored very low in the arena of accessibility. You might wonder why we reviewed an app that is so obviously inaccessible. First, though it may not work particularly well with a screen reader, it may excel in the area of visual adjustment. If a low-vision friend recommends an app to you because she finds it accessible, you can check this list to see if it's worth exploring. It is only by including it in this document that you can make that determination for yourself.

iOS

Aldiko Book Reader

  • Version Evaluated: 1.1.6
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • Pdf (including Ebook DRM)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No (Inaccessible to VoiceOver)
    • Review text. No
    • Chapter Navigation. No
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, line spacing, paginated view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Unstable with VoiceOver enabled)

Apple Books

  • Version Evaluated: 12
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
    • Iba (Proprietary )
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. No
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (Cannot swipe to link)
    • Read image descriptions. Unknown (cannot test)
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Limited font size, color through themes, paginated view, hyphenation can be turned off
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Audible

  • Version Evaluated: 3.11.2
  • Availability: Free (Must purchase books through subscription)
  • Formats
    • aa (Proprietary)
    • aax (Proprietary)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (Perfect)

Bluefire

  • Version Evaluated: 2.9
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • PDF
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. No
    • Chapter Navigation. No
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, Dyslexic font, line spacing, paginated view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Many unlabeled buttons)

Bookari

  • Version Evaluated: 4.7
  • Availability: Paid (Free edition has advertisements)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • PDF
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes (and VoiceOver will read to the end of the book)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (EPUB 2 only)
    • Page Navigation. No (can only turn page or use sliding bar)
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, limited color through themes, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (Challenging with ads)

Bookshelf from Vital Source

  • Version Evaluated: 4.5.2
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes (Can be turned off)
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

CaptiVoice

  • Version Evaluated: 3.0.1
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text only, audio will not import)
    • DAISY (Text only, audio will not import)
    • PDF
    • Docx (Microsoft Word document)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Odt (Open Document)
    • Html (Web articles)
    • Google Docs, Slides and Sheets
    • Jpg and Gif (Images with OCR)
    • ppt (Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. No (Links are not supported)
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No (Text is stripped out of the table view)
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, Dyslexic font, color through themes, paginated view, hyphenation not used
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (Controls are standard and well-labeled)

Cloudshelf

  • Version Evaluated: 1.0.1
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and Audio)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Unknown (cannot test)
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, limited color through themes, paginated view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Easy Reader from Dolphin

  • Version Evaluated: 2.4
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • DAISY (Text and Audio)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. No
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, line spacing, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

FbReader

  • Version Evaluated: 1.0.9
  • Availability: Paid (Free edition does not have Listen feature)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • PDF
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
    • Doc (Microsoft Word Document)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. No
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (EPUB 2 only)
    • Page Navigation. No (can only turn page)
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (VoiceOver cannot read text in reading pane)
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No (Text is stripped out of the table view)
    • Visual Adjustment: Font face and color, line spacing, paginated or dual-page view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Hyphen Reader

  • Version Evaluated: 1.2.3
  • Availability: Paid (Light version that only let you have one book in your library is no longer available)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (Must touch dash-explore to use)
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, Fonts can be imported, line spacing, paginated view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (though some controls are excluded from the swipe order)

Kindle

  • Version Evaluated: 6.17
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • Pdf
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. No (Elements cannot be swiped to, but VoiceOver can read continuously)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (but chapter titles cannot be swiped to)
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (Cannot be swiped to)
    • Read image descriptions. Unknown (cannot test)
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Dyslexic font, Limited font size, color through themes, line spacing, paginated view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Kobo

  • Version Evaluated: 9.12.2
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and Audio) (audio stops at the end of chapters)
    • Pdf
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (VoiceOver does not adjust to the new page)
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Limited font size, color through themes, paginated view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Fair (Can be sluggish and unstable in places)

Marvin

  • Version Evaluated: 2.9.1
  • Availability: Paid (Classic edition has limited features)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not labeled)
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
    • Txt (Plain text)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, Dyslexic font, limited line spacing, paginated or dual-page view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Unlabeled buttons and vanishing menus)

Play Books from Google

  • Version Evaluated: 5.2.1
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. No (Text must be tapped first, but VoiceOver will turn pages when reading)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (Must be visually tapped first)
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, limited color through themes, line spacing, paginated view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (cannot navigate pages with swipe gesture)

Voice Dream Reader

  • Version Evaluated: 4.8.4
  • Availability: Paid with high-quality voices (Trial not available)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • DAISY (Text)
    • Mp3 (Zipped audio book)
    • PDF
    • Docx (Microsoft Word document)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
    • ppt (Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. Yes (Through Rich Text mode)
    • Read image descriptions. Yes (with VoiceOver Through Rich Text mode))
    • Navigate tables. Yes (Through Rich Text mode)
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, line spacing, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (though reading position does not always update automatically)

Android

Aldiko Book Reader

  • Version Evaluated: 3.1.3
  • Availability: Paid (Free edition does not have Listen feature)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • Pdf (including Ebook DRM)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No (Not in free version)
    • Review text. No
    • Chapter Navigation. No
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, paginated view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No

Bookari

  • Version Evaluated: 4.2.5
  • Availability: Paid (Free edition with ads is no longer available)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • PDF
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes (and TalkBack will read to the end of the book)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (EPUB 2 only)
    • Page Navigation. No (can only turn page or use sliding bar)
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, limited color through themes, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Runs slowly and freezes frequently)

Bookshelf from Vital Source

  • Version Evaluated: 4.8.2
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes (Can be turned off)
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Easy Reader from Dolphin

  • Version Evaluated: 2.4.467
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • DAISY (Text and Audio)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. No
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, line spacing, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

FbReader

  • Version Evaluated: 3.0.16
  • Availability: Paid (Free edition has most features disabled)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text) (V3 TOC not supported)
    • PDF
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
    • Doc (Microsoft Word document)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No (Not in free version)
    • Review text. No
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (EPUB 2 only)
    • Page Navigation. No (can only turn page)
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (TalkBack cannot read text in reading pane)
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No (Text is stripped out of the table view)
    • Visual Adjustment: Font face and color, line spacing, paginated or dual-page view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Kindle

  • Version Evaluated: 8.17.0.49
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • Pdf
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. No (Elements cannot be swiped to, but TalkBack can read continuously)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (but chapter titles cannot be swiped to)
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (Cannot be swiped to)
    • Read image descriptions. Unknown (cannot test)
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Dyslexic font, Limited font size, color through themes, line spacing, paginated view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Kobo

  • Version Evaluated: 8.11.24971
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and Audio) (audio stops at the end of chapters)
    • Pdf
    • Mobi (Amazon Kindle)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. No (TalkBack does not adjust to the new page)
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Limited font size, color through themes, paginated view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Book pages do not load correctly, Can be sluggish and unstable in places)

Lektz eBook Reader from AEL Data Services

  • Version Evaluated: 5.2
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and Audio)
    • Pdf
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (But must double-tap paragraph and quickly press unlabeled button)
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Dyslexic font, Font size, limited color through themes, paginated view
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Cannot invoke book menu)

Lithium

  • Version Evaluated: 0.21.1
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes (Though not all links work)
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, color through theme, line spacing, paginated or scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Reading menu vanishes after 3 seconds)

Play Books from Google

  • Version Evaluated: 5.3.12
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes (But reading place is not retained when stopped)
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, limited color through themes, line spacing, paginated view, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Simply Reading

  • Version Evaluated: 3.0.11
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and audio)
    • DAISY (Text and audio)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes (And TalkBack will read to the end of the book but click after each line)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. No
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, limited color through themes, paginated view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (Excellent)

Voice Dream Reader

  • Version Evaluated: 3.2.7
  • Availability: Paid with high-quality voices (Trial not available)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • DAISY (Text)
    • Mp3 (Zipped audio book)
    • PDF
    • Docx (Microsoft Word document)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
    • ppt (Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. No
    • Read image descriptions. No
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, line spacing, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (though reading position does not always update automatically)

Windows

 

 

Adobe Digital Editions

  • Version Evaluated: 4.5.10
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and audio)
    • PDF
    • OPS (Enhanced OEBPS)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes (but cannot skip to next link or table)
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, words are hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (though App usually freezes as soon as a book is opened)

Azardi

  • Version Evaluated: 43.1
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text and Audio)
    • AZD (DRM-enabled EPUB)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font face, hyphenation can be turned off
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Bookshelf from Vital Source

  • Version Evaluated: 7.6.5
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes (Problematic when NVDA is running)
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font color, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Easy Reader from Dolphin

  • Version Evaluated: 8.0.3
  • Availability: Paid (Free 30-day evaluation)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • DAISY (Text and Audio)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. No
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. No
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font face, size and color, paginated view, line spacing, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes

Thorium from EDRLab

  • Version Evaluated: 1.3.0
  • Availability: Free
  • Language: English or French
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text (Audio coming soon))
    • LPF (Proposed Audiobook)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No (Feature coming soon)
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, line spacing, scrolled view, words are not hyphenated
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (Keyboard shortcuts and pridictible navigation)

macOS

 

 

Apple Books

  • Version Evaluated: 1.16
  • Availability: Free
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Pdf
    • Iba (Proprietary )
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes (But position is not retained when stopped and started)
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (but only to the correct page)
    • Page Navigation. Yes
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes (But only if you cursor over it)
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, hyphenation cannot be turned off
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (buttons and controls are well-labeled)

Azardi

  • Version Evaluated: 43.1
  • Availability: Free (Not available on the App Store so difficult to install on Catalina)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • AZD (DRM-enabled EPUB)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. No (Inaccessible with VoiceOver)
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. Yes
    • Activate links. No (Cannot interact with content once clicked)
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. No
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size and face, line spacing, paginated or scrolled view, hyphenation can be turned off
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: No (Library view works poorly; cannot add bookmarks)

BookReader

  • Version Evaluated: 5.14
  • Availability: Paid (Trial not available)
  • Formats
    • EPUB (Text)
    • Mobi and AZW (Amazon Kindle)
    • PDF
    • Doc (Microsoft Word document)
    • Txt and RTF (Plain text)
    • Html (Web articles)
  • Features
    • Read out loud. Yes
    • Review text. Yes
    • Chapter Navigation. Yes (Appears to be broken in current release)
    • Page Navigation. No
    • Heading Navigation. No
    • Activate links. Yes
    • Read image descriptions. Yes
    • Navigate tables. Yes
    • Visual Adjustment: Font size, face and color, Dyslexic font, line spacing, hyphenation cannot be turned off
    • Screen-Reader Friendly: Yes (Bookmarks are difficult)

Manuals

Note that some reading systems don't have an online manual available.