A quick tutorial to show you how to read ePub books in Ubuntu or any other Linux distribution.
If you have ever noticed my author bio (it’s at the end of every article), you know that I like detective fiction and am a huge Agatha Christie fan. So, the other day I came to know about this Project Gutenberg that provides free to download eBooks. I downloaded The Mysterious Affair at Styles which has the first appearance of legendary detective character Hercules Poirot.
I double clicked to open the downloaded book in Ubuntu 15.04 and to my surprise, the files was opened with archive manager and I ended up looking at a screen like this:
The reason for this unexpected error was that the downloaded eBook was in ePub format and Ubuntu’s default Document Viewer doesn’t support ePub format. So the question arises, how to read ePub books in Ubuntu or any Linux distribution for that matter.
How to open ePub files in Ubuntu Linux
Since the default Document Viewer is unable to read ePub, we need to use another application specifically for this purpose. If you ask any experienced Linux user about eBook reader, his/her answer will be Calibre.
But for reading ePub files, I won’t advise Calibre. Don’t get me wrong. Calibre is undoubtedly the best eBook management application out there but it comes with lots of baggage. You see, it is a library management system and you can do a number of things with books in Calibre. But it is a heavy application and requires lots of resources. It won’t be wise to use it just for opening an ePub file, specially if you want to make Ubuntu faster, avoid heavy programs.
So, what alternative to Calibre are we going to use? My choice is FBReader, abbreviation of Free Book Reader. It is a small application and very fast. It does the job of opening eBooks just fine. Installing FBReader is very easy because it is available in most of the Linux repositories by default.
To install FBReader in Ubuntu 12.04, 14.04, 15.04 and respective Linux Mint and elementary OS versions, use the following command in a terminal:
sudo apt-get install fbreader
Using FBReader in Ubuntu
Once you have installed FBReader, open Unity Dash and search for FBReader. You’ll be surprised to find E-book reader instead of FBReader here but that’s the way it is. Once installed, FBReader will be visible as E-Book reader everywhere.
Now, how to open the ePub with E-Book reader? There are two ways, first is that you open E-Book reader first and then open the file in it. You can choose to drang and drop in Unity which is not that user friendly.
The second way is to set FBReader the default ePub reader. Let’s see how to do that.
Right click on the ePub file and go to Properties.
In the Open With tab, you can see that the default application associated with ePub file is Archive Manager. Time to change it. Look for E-Book reader. Select it and click on Set as default button.
Double click on the ePub file and it will be opened in E-Book reader or FBReader, which ever you prefer to call it. Enjoy your eBook.
I hope this tutorial helped you to read ePub eBooks in Linux. In related post, you can check Great Little Book Shelf app to manage your PDF books. It’s lighter than Calibre but limited to PDF files.
If you have any questions, suggestions or simply a word of thanks, feel free to drop a comment :)