Ebook readers: Kindle vs. Marvin

As an experiment, I tried using the Marvin e-book reader on my iPad and iPhone, rather than Kindle. The Marvin user interface is less cluttered and confusing than Kindle – even after years using Kindle, I find myself tapping at random when I want to force a sync or switch between books in progress.

Marvin sync is, surprisingly, more reliable than Kindle.

Marvin fonts, spacing and other details are more customizable than Kindle. That’s a big deal for design mavens. It doesn’t make that much difference to me.

But I ended up switching back to Kindle. Transferring books from the Kindle store to Marvin takes a few minutes. I only have to do that once per book, but, still, it’s one more thing to do.

But the clincher for my return to Kindle is that I’d much rather bring a Kindle to bed with me than my iPad. Even my iPad mini is bigger and heavier than the Kindle. The Kindle is just the right size for reading books. Plus, turning on the iPad is like shining a flashlight directly into my face, which is not something that’s exactly welcome when I’m trying to get to sleep!

Still, the Marvin app is excellent for iPads and iPhones, if you’re not locked into the Kindle-verse.


I use a DRM-removal plugin in Calibre (you can Google for it) to translate my protected Kindle .mobi file ebooks into unprotected .epub files I can read on a different reader - usually on my Mac, where the choice and quality is superior to the Amazon options. Best thing about that is being able to grab/save/share as much text from the converted files as I want, as well as more sophisticated options for annotations.

I continue to read ebooks in the Kindle app on my iPhone, the Apple Books app is a generally better reading experience. Apple offers a superior font selection (I’m pretty picky about this) and I love the endless scroll option in those books that allow it.

I have a Kindle I got a great deal on on Black Friday a couple of years back - the Paperwhite in Amazon’s leather case, for $90 - but sad to say I don’t use it too much. I used to read in bed all the time with my iPad Mini, but I just don’t like the look of the Kindle screen or fonts too much (although Bookerly is not too bad a bad font on that screen), and I read a lot less with it. I ought to gift it, as Amazon only offers $25 trade-in for the unit sans case…

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I also really like the Marvin e-book reader on iOS. I use it for all of my non-technical ePubs. I’d use it for more if I were better about converting non-conforming files to ePub but, as you say, it’s one more thing that gets in the way of starting to read.

My two major issues with the iOS Kindle app are the unreliable sync that you mentioned (it just won’t sync for some books on some devices for me) and slow startup. It takes seconds to initialize and seems to need to do that on a surprisingly frequent basis. When I was primarily using an iPhone 6 I attributed it to the age of the phone but no… It’s slow to start on an iPhone X too. What’s with that? I just want to read, not see a splash screen. One nice feature of the Kindle app is that the combination of being able to zoom out on books that support it and it keeping track of where you were last reading makes it easier to move around in a book.

My wife is a big fan of the Kindle device. I’ve never gotten that. I’ve always preferred my iPad Mini for ebook reading because of the higher resolution screen and the customization options. The Paperwhite screen also feels just a bit too small for me. But we read different things in different places. I do appreciate more and more, as my eyes age, having so many options for how I read books.

The act of typing that actually led me to act on it minutes later. I filled out the Amazon trade-in form for the Kindle, then added my Echo Dot for another $5 (Amazon then gifted my account with 25% off my next Alexa and my next Kindle!), then printed out the return label and walked it over to my UPS Store. Done. Then I put up the leather case on ebay. :moneybag:

Since I sold my iPad Mini, my current readers are my iPhone and my Mac, and probably soon to be a new iPad Pro and one of the new iPhones (once the dust has settled from trustworthy reviewers).

I’ll have to take another look at Marvin eventually…

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