BN eReader for iPad - app review

Barnes & Noble has released BN eReader for iPad as an alternative to Apple's iBooks and Amazon's Kindle app. It is an excellent ebook reader and offers many customizations as well as the ability to share books with friends and family.

Reading on BN eReader is a pleasant experience. You can read either in landscape in portrait. In portrait, eReader displays the book as one page. However, in landscape, reading in a two column or one column format depends on what your font settings are (both style and size). If this is not a bug, it is very annoying. I'd much rather see a toggle to turn two columns on or off. You can enhance your reading experience by choosing between one of Barnes & Nobel's five professionally designed themes, or create your own theme by editing the page, text, highlights, and links colors.

One of the big features BN eReader offers that iBooks does not, is the ability to add notes. Just highlight a block of text by dragging with your finger and select "add note". After you've created the note, you can quickly get back to it at any time. In addition, you can highlight text and look up words in the dictionary.

The other huge feature of BN eReader is the ability to share books with friends and family. Barnes & Noble refers to the technology as LendMe. With supported books, you can access your iPad's address book and select which contact you wish to share the book with. Upon accepting the offer, your friend will be able to enjoy the eBook for 14 days. If someone lends you a book, BN eReader will add the book to your library and display the message from your friend.

If you have BN eReader on your Mac, PC, iPhone, and Nook, the last page read will sync across all devices. All notes and highlights will also sync to your PC and iPhone (coming soon).

To purchase a book, BN eReader will launch the Barnes & Nobel eBookstore in Safari. After purchasing a book, you much exit safari and reopen BN eReader; you will see your book automatically add to your library and begin to download. The process is simple, but not completely painless. I'd much rather see BN eReader open an in-app browser because switching between apps isn't very elegant.

Barnes and Noble did an excellent job with their eReader and offers many things that iBooks does not. Having the world's largest bookstore in your hands is definitely a welcomed addition to the iPad.

Video and screenshots after the break!


  • Excellent alternative to Apple iBooks
  • Share books with friends and family with LendMe
  • Add notes, highlights, and bookmarks
  • Customized the look of your book
  • Sync across multiple devices


  • Barnes & Nobel bookstore launches Safari instead of an in-app browser
  • Depending on font size and/or style, landscape may display as single to double column

TiPb iPad 4.5-star rated

YouTube link

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Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

BN eReader for iPad - app review


Nice review. But I am wondering if like on the Kindle you can export your notes and highlights to text? I use clipping all the time in my studies.

Excellent and informative review, Leanna, thank you!
Anyone know how the B&N ebook prices compare to iTunes or Amazon? Nice to have a third and respectable option for buying books for the iPad.

But again, LendMe is ONCE PER BOOK, and ONLY for 14 days. Then you can never lend it again. And not all books allow LendMe. The publishers hate this feature.

Since Steve Jobs pretty much colluded with the publishers to switch to the Agency model, the prices are not set by the publishers. (Side Rant: I predict DOJ looks into this too. One man changed the way ebooks have been sold for an entire industry just to screw over Amazon).
Therefore B&N and Amazon are almost always the same price, and as soon as the Agency model gets fully implemented they will be the same price. In the current state of transition you find small variances in prices from one to the other.
The big difference is B&N carries about twice the titles that Amazon does. Amazon only carries about 20,000 FREE books (Gutenberg, Google, etc), whereas B&N carries ALL of these, well in excess of 95,000 titles.

2 things:

  1. Who really cares if the store is in the browser instead of the app? I spent 99% of time in such apps reading not shopping. It's still very convenient, no matter what iBooks does.
  2. @icebike but how many of these would you actually want to read?

Was that a puppy or kitty that walked bybtye screen?
Uhm...the bad thing is that I like something different with all of the ereaders that we have so far: I love the landscape in iBooks, love the highlighting and notes in Amazon and I'm sure I'll like something different about B&N.
Dear Steve Jobs, please implement these into iBooks so that I am satisfied and only have need for one Ereader. Thanks.

Is this a universal binary? I use the B&N reader on my iPhone, and will have my iPad soon. Looking very much forward to this aspect.

@Brad There does not seem to be a way to export notes and highlights.
@Wrath You can browse prices on Barnes & Nobel's website.
@Jindo because when I do shop for an app, the experience will be better to do so within the app.
@Greg Yes, that was my little Yorkie who walked by :)
@Alli I don't think it's universal binary, but everything will soon sync between iPhone and iPad.

@Jindo Fox:
Free books that have withstood the test of time are far more likely to be a good read than the latest flash-in-the-pan author or yet another vampire story.
Nothing gets Gutenberg attention unless it attracts a significant interest from literate people. Not so the pulp pounded out in these days.

Leanna - have you found a way to import pdb files to the BNreader? Since BN bought Fictionwise, all the books that I purchased on can be opened in the same BNreader on my mac, but I haven't found a way to get them on my iPad. iTunes doesn't recognize them, and so far I haven't found an Import function within the app, that will allow me to download from another server.
Great review, and I agree - it is a very nice app on the iPad. Thanks!

There is no way to import Fictionwise/eReader ebooks in to the iPad bNeReader software. I ended up deleting the app off my iPad after discovering that. I have well over 200+ ebooks between Fictionwise and, and without being able to import the ebooks the app is fairly useless. You would think that since Barnes and Noble owns Fictionwise and eReader they would have set up access to allow importing, but they did not.

The only way B&N will get/keep my business is to allow me to import from Fictionwise. My purchase there cost more than this new iPad.