How to read large PDFs—books, articles, etc.—on your iPhone
In the past, I’ve tried emailing large PDFs to myself to read using the iPhone’s native PDF viewer. Unfortunately, it’s extremely slow with any sort of large file, so reading books is out of the question. I also tried importing PDFs of books into Stanza. However, the files tend to lose all formatting and line breaks, giving you large continuous paragraphs of text with page numbers and headers embedded in the text of the work itself. One of the reasons why I would like a Kindle DX is to read PDFs of books and journal/magazine articles. However, there are also several reasons why I don’t want a Kindle.
I’m currently testing an intermediate solution, the GoodReader app. It’s designed for handling large files. I’ve thrown a few books and New Yorker articles at it, and it’s handled them quite well. Scrolling is responsive, though page turns can sometimes be a little slow, but not unbearably so. Unfortunately, the iPhone’s screen simply isn’t big enough to read some PDF files because of the way they’re formatted with long lines of text. There’s no way to smartly reflow the text. This means that you’ll need to read most files in landscape view to get the entire column width on the screen. However, given the limitations of the screen, I think this is a great application for reading many but not all types of PDFs. I’ve included a couple screenshots—one of a book and another of a New Yorker article I saved from the magazine’s digital edition. As you can see, both are readable within the confines of the screen, although the New Yorker article will require more scrolling because of it’s multi-column format.
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