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eReaders: Syncing of Notes & Annotations (Non drm Books)


iPF Noob
Jul 23, 2010
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sw colorado
Before my question (as I write this "editorial") may I present some background....

As an educator and speaker I use my iPad, iPod Touch, and iMac a lot for study and research. Most of my books are old public domain works obtained from google books, project gutenberg, etc. I use Calibre on my iMac as my "main" library/device and I can convert the ebook to almost any format.

My goal:
I need to have an eReader app that works on my three devices (iMac, iPad, iPod) that will support annotations/notes across the three devices. These books are not purchased from Amazon, B&N, Apple, etc so there is no syncing that occurs. They are DRM free.

The annotations do not actually need to "sync" but they need to be able to be moved from device to device along with the book file itself.

To date, I have found only Kindle allows this.. Kindle for desktop and the iPad/iPod Kindle app. But there is a catch... The Kindle annotation file (.mbp file) that is created when the book is "loaded" into the library is slightly different between the Desktop version and the app.

The iPad .mbp will work on both iMac and iPad/iPod but the desktop .mbp doesn't work on the iPad. Therefore, even if I am going to markup a book on the desktop, I first need to put it on the iPad and then move the mbp file to the Kindle library on my iMac.

But this does work. On the iMac I go to iTunes.. my iPad... apps... Kindle... and the mbp file is there along with the mobi file. This mbp annotation file can then be copied to the iMac and notes/bookmarks, etc are retained across devices.

My question....
Out of all the desktop and iPad eReader apps, Kindle is the ONLY one I have found where I can successfuly move the annotations from device to device. Has anyone else found another app that does this?

I love NookStudy on the iMac desktop but there is no compatible NookStudy app for the iPad. Likewise, there are some good readers out there but some don't even allow "sideloading" of material that is not purchased thru the reader.

It seems that every eReader app is designed to sell books (well yes, I know, that's why they are free! They are there to sell books!) but I know I'd pay for a good "study" reader that "syncs" across devices, does not not have a "commercial host" (to sell their books), and is designed for public domain and non-drm works.

In short... an OPEN SOURCE eReader study app designed to best function.. not designed to sell.

Ideas... Comments Please...
If you convert them to PDF, there are many programs on both the iPad and computer that will deal with annotations and notes.

You can use Preview on the iMac.

On the iPad there are several. I use GoodReader, but honestly as a pdf reader it's an excellent file manager. It has everything, but is not the most convenient to use.

I believe the Kindle device will read PDF files. I don't know if it can handle annotations, but it would be very limited in what it could do compared to the iMac or iPad.

The Nook has recently added an app store. You may want to upgrade, check and see if they have any good PDF annotation apps yet.

If you add a DropBox account (many of the iPad apps can access DropBox directly) you solve the problem of moving the files back and forth.

AppAdvice has a recently updated PDF annotation guide.

PDF Annotation Apps: iPad/iPhone Apps AppGuide
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