The free Firefox add-on EPUBReader is one of the easiest to use ebook tools for a web browser that I’ve ever found. It’s been around a while, and I’m a little surprised I haven’t written about it before because I use it at least a couple of times every month.
I like add-ons that you can use without ever opening the preferences pane, and EPUBReader is a great example of this. Install it, restart Firefox, and the next time you click on a DRM-free epub link (say at Smashwords), instead of being prompted to save the file somewhere on your computer the add-on will take care of things. It will download the file into a special “epub” directory in your Firefox profile folder and immediately open it up so you can start reading it. If there’s a table of contents, that will be shown by default in a special side panel to the left of the text.
You can switch between scrolling and paginated layouts, change font face and size, and even override the book’s formatting with your own for a consistent look. Every epub file is saved into that profile subdirectory I mentioned above, so you can click the books icon to view and edit your growing Firefox epub library.
My favorite feature is that you can add a Calibre2OPDS library URL in the Preferences pane (look under “Miscellaneous” and type the address of your catalog.xml file) and browse your entire online Calibre library from within the add-on if you like. It’s not strictly necessary if you’re already in Firefox — you could easily just pull up your online Calibre library in another browser window instead — but in my experience browsing is faster in EPUBReader because of the nested menu.
Another good feature is that the files aren’t trapped in your Firefox directory. If you want to save an epub to your desktop, there’s a floppy disk icon you can click to launch a standard save dialog.
Even if you don’t normally read ebooks on your computer, it can still be a useful little add-on for previewing epub files. That’s how I mostly use it these days, so I can decide whether I should add the title to my Calibre library. (I’ve always found Calibre’s own epub reader to be too slow and clunky for quick looks.)
But in particular, if you use Firefox on a laptop, EPUBReader is an easy way to graft some ereader functionality onto the browser without installing a stand-alone program.