Stanza isn’t affiliated with a bookstore, but users can browse and buy books from the app. Under the Get Books icon we found over a dozen free and commercial eBook stores from which to choose. In the Shared area we added our own book sources—online catalogs not included with Stanza by default.
Users can either add the home page URL of a store (which launches Safari inside the app) or add catalog links provided specifically for Stanza by eBookstores such as WebScriptions.net. With these links users can browse their favorite store’s catalog natively and not as a webpage.
Stanza can access eBooks protected by eReader DRM, but currently not Adobe Digital Editions DRM. The commercial stores listed within the app like Fictionwise, Pan Macmillan, and BookonBoard offer titles with no or compatible DRM. Users will be able to find some new and bestselling books from these stores, but not as many as Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s offerings.
Loading books we already owned into the Stanza library required downloading the desktop application and syncing it with the iPhone over Wi-Fi. Though the process is straightforward, it’s tedious enough that we wouldn’t want to do it on a regular basis. Since Stanza supports a wide range of formats, including EPUB, FB2, LIT, PDB, PDF, and TXT, most users will be able to transfer and read their entire eBook library on just one device.
Navigating the Library
Under Library, books are listed by the order in which they were downloaded by default, and users can browse by author, groups (user-defined or preloaded), or subject/genre. Turn the iPhone to landscape mode on any Library screen to activate a Cover Flow-like interface for scrolling quickly through titles.
After opening a book, an overlay helpfully provides simple directions for navigation. You can turn pages by tapping or swiping right or left, but not up or down. An animation emulates an actual page turn, similar to Apple’s iBooks app. Tapping or swiping up the middle of the screen launches a menu with additional options.
Stanza offers a multitude of display settings from a wide range of text sizes, over a dozen fonts, and control over background, text, and link color. Themes include a night mode that switches the app to white text on a black background. Users can also adjust text size via pinch and zoom while reading a book.
Stanza’s robust features, customization options, and ability to read a wide variety of formats makes it one of the most impressive eReader apps we’ve tried. Though we’d prefer wired eBook transfers from PC to iPhone, this is a minor drawback.