Stanza vs. eReader: First Impressions

droppedimage_41Nearly five years and four months ago, I bought my first eBook. It was October 30th, 2003 to be exact. I purchased a Terry Brooks novel in his “Shannara” series for my Toshiba e805 PocketPC and I was hooked on digital books. Back then the electronic bookseller was known as Peanut Press, later became Palm Digital Media, then eReader and in January of 2008, it was purchased by Fictionwise. Regardless of the name or ownership, the eReader platform has been my “go-to” software for electronic books on multiple devices. But times change and I’m open to changing with them. That’s why I’m looking at Stanza on my iPhone. Stanza is one of the few applications that supports the eReader content I’ve already purchased. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t even consider it because I have too much invested in the format.

Like eReader, Stanza is a free application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Both applications also support reading on a computer running either Windows or OS X. Device support for Stanza ends there, however. eReader is usable on devices running PalmOS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile and there’s also a beta version available for BlackBerry handsets (not released yet).

In terms of format support, eReader handles it’s own .pdb format and not much else. Stanza supports that same .pdb format (encrypted or not) as well as nearly 20 other non-DRM formats. If you read content in various formats, then Stanza is going to serve you better. I tend not to, so at the moment, this isn’t a significant advantage to me personally.

I’ve only been using Stanza for a few days of light reading, so here are my first impressions. I’m reading the exact same book on both eReader and Stanza to gather my thoughts.

  • Overall, I’m finding Stanza to be a little more “polished” then eReader. My library in Stanza shows cover images, uses Cover Flow and offers several ways to find books. eReader simply shows a book listing without cover art, although I can sort by Title, Author or Date. I do like how the latest version of eReader shows my general reading progress in a given title.
  • Stanza offers around twice as many fonts than eReader, although I ended up using the same font in both. Georgia, if you must know.
  • Both allow for customized background and text colors, but I find more options in eReader. It offers pre-configured themes, custom themes and the ability to have separate daytime and night-time themes.
  • Page navigation works better for me on eReader because it offers two options to the one I’ve found in Stanza. I can either tap or swipe in eReader; in Stanza it appears that I can only tap. (Thanks to our commenters who pointed out you can swipe a page in Stanza as well.)
  • Book purchasing is a draw so far. Both software titles allow for direct online purchases in under a minute. Again, Stanza appears a little more “polished” in the purchase or download experience, but both accomplish the same thing.
  • Pagination is far better on Stanza, although some would argue that it causes an issue. Stanza paginates each chapter individually as you approach a new chapter. I like this approach for two reasons: It’s quicker than paginating an entire book like eReader does, and the brief pause between chapters tells me where I’m at. Without such a pause, I’ve been known to read for hours and then wonder why it’s 2:00 am.

Some images of the Library and a book in each:


I haven’t really looked into advanced features like bookmarks, annotations and such. For the moment, I’m simply getting a feel for the reading experience with Stanza. After just a few chapters of reading, I’m fairly certain I could make the switch. At the moment however, I haven’t yet found a compelling reason to.

Have you made the switch? Why or why not?


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