Weekly Web App Review: Reader - Wait-a-Thon

readerlogo.jpg Not to be confused with a news or RSS reader, Reader is meant for reading text documents, either an ebook or document. Sound interesting? Look no further than dBelement's Reader web app for iPhone. This is a great idea for a web app and I really see innovation here that could lead to the way that we handle document creation tools on the iPhone. Let’s take a closer look…

Reader has the ability to capture text documents in two formats: and ebook or a standard document. The two formats are easily distinguishable by their icons; the book looks like a book with a bookmark and the document looks a piece of paper. The articles of text reside on a virtual bookshelf. Simply click on the document you want and it opens up. Reading your documents are as simply as browsing a web page. But that is where the similarities end.

Getting your text into Reader

reader-shelf.jpg There is no “desktop version” of Reader. Simply go to http://dbelement.com/reader/ and create a free account. Once you are logged in, choose the option to “+Add to shelf”. This takes you to a screen to select what type of text document you want. You can choose ebook to text. I have not found any discernable difference between them other an categorizing them on the shelf. Next, add a title and paste your content. This can be any text such as a Word file, ebook or just plain text. Once pasted, click the “+Add item to shelf” button again and your done!

Viewing your text file

Just click the file you want to open it. Opening the file can sometimes take a second, but once opened, the file is formatted just as you pasted it. Tabs, commas all appear. The only issue I found is that apostrophes do not appear to be recognized and displays “%u2019”.

This is where the innovation occurs!

Since there are no real plug-in options for Mobile Safari, how do you navigate within your document? Scroll up and down? Yes. But wait, you can also:

  • Exit to go back to your shelf
  • Save a bookmark
  • Change your font size
  • Invert your colors (W/B to B/W)
  • Access different parts of your text file in a tap


How is this accomplished? Just tap anywhere within the document, and an onscreen menu appears! Genius! Tap the functionality you want, and it works. Everything is laid out in a simple, direct fashion.


This is really a great application; I can’t talk enough about it. The ease of use as well as the very innovative toolbar really makes the app easy to use. It has really made me thing how similar actions can be implemented into web apps and native apps. The only downsides are a few bugs such as the previously mentioned apostrophe issue.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Look and Feel: 5
  • Navigation: 5
  • Features: 5
  • Reliability: 5

Overall: 5- a perfect score!!!!


  • Easy to use
  • Awesome innovative toolbar
  • Looks like a real bookshelf
  • Two text options for the shelf display
  • Loads quickly


  • A few rendering bugs that I am sure will be addressed

...Give reader a shot and let us know what you think in the comments - this is a Wait-a-Thon, iTunes-Giveaway post!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Chad Garrett

Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

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Reader comments

Weekly Web App Review: Reader - Wait-a-Thon


Can you save books (or chapters) as WebClips or bookmarks for offline reading? With Readdle you can- I used that this week for reading during my business flights (without having to lug along a book).

Not according to Steven P. Jobs, at least not when asked his thoughts on the kindle.
However, and disturbingly, didn't some survey recently find that a huge amount of Americans reported reading one book or less in the last year?

I don't think I could ever read a book on anything smaller than a computer. I still prefer the actual book though.

Looks like the rendering issue has been fixed for new books that you import, and reader actually has multi-language support now (for us Russian/Japanese readers)
Oh and the best part is that you can import TXT and PDF files!
Thanks for this, I love reader, it's the only web-app I use on my iPhone.

Nice idea although I would only use it to kill time and I don't want to carry a book around with me.

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