2 Ways to Read an Epub on a Tablet

Google Play Books iconSo, you bought an ebook from a distributor other than Amazon, and you want to read it on your tablet* or smartphone. How do you do that?

Ebooks that you buy or download for free from Kobo, Lulu, Nook, Google Play, and the Apple iBookstore are delivered to you in epub format. So you’ll need an app that can read epubs.

Kobo, the Apple iBookstore, and Nook have apps that you can install on your tablet to read their books. You’ll be able access books purchased from these sites by just opening their apps on your tablet.

Alternative Apps

But what if you’ve downloaded or bought an epub from Smashwords or Lulu? They don’t have designated tablet or smartphone apps that you can use.

You’ll first need to download the epub file to your computer from the Smashwords or Lulu site. You can then read the epub file with one of these two apps:

Both of these apps are platform agnostic, meaning that you can read any epub on them, provided the epub doesn’t have DRM applied to it.

However, how you get a book into each app on your tablet is different:

Google Play Books Quick Steps

  1. Download the Google Play Books app onto your tablet or smartphone.
  2. Open the app on your computer (go to the Google Play store to find it) and then upload the file from your computer into the app. The computer app and tablet app will sync.
  3. Open your the Google Play Books app on your tablet and you should see the book you just uploaded.

Bluefire Reader Quick Steps

  1. Download the Bluefire Reader onto your tablet or smartphone.
  2. Upload the book file to a file storage site, like Dropbox.
  3. Open the Dropbox app on your tablet and then tap on the book file you just uploaded to Dropbox. Your tablet should direct you to an app that can read the book file. Now that you’ve downloaded Bluefire Reader onto your tablet, it should be one of the choices. Tap the Bluefire app to to open the book.

Google Play Books and Bluefire Reader are simple e-reading apps, with not too many features — but that just might be what you’re looking for.

*The instructions in this post work for an Android tablet. You many have to experiment a little if you have an iPad. If you’re an iPad user, let me know if there are differences I should know about.

How to Read an Ebook

by C.K. MacLeod


If you want to publish an ebook, you should probably read ebooks. This post will get you started.

  1. Set up an account with an ebook distributor or retailer if you don’t already have one. Accounts are free.  Some options are
  • Amazon
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Lulu
  • Smashwords

2.  Choose how you will read your ebook. You can read your ebook on a

  • computer
  • designated e-reading device (Kindle, Nook, Kobo)
  • hand-held device (iPod/iPhone, Android phone)
  • tablet (iPad, Android)
  1. Choose a book to read.  Each of the distribution sites listed above will have free ebooks. Authors will often offer the first book in a series for free as a way of building a readership.

  2. Download your book. You have a few options here. If you’re reading on a designated e-reading device, you can download the book to your computer and transfer it to your e-reading device with the USB cable that came with it. Or, you can simply download the ebook directly to your device if you have wifi and your device is wifi enabled. If you’re reading on anything other than a designated e-reading device, go to Step 5 and download an e-reading app.

  3. Download an e-reading app. Use the table below to help you decide if your e-reader needs an app. Search your ebook distributor site to find the app you need.

E-reader Need an app?
Computer Yes
iPod Yes
Kindle No
Kobo No
Nook No
Smartphone Yes
Tablet Yes
  1. Open your ebook with the recommended app.

Image by Maria Elena