What software can I use to view .epub documents?

10 Answers 10

up vote 208 down vote accepted

You can use calibre software for viewing .epub documents.

To install calibre from terminal:

sudo apt-get install calibre

Or click the icon below.

calibre Install calibre


If you don't want to launch the full calibre client just to view your ebook files you can add a .desktop launcher to calibre's inbuilt ebook viewer:

  1. Create a new .desktop file in ~/.local/share/applications:

    gedit ~/.local/share/applications/calibre-ebook-viewer.desktop
    
  2. Copy and paste the following passage into the file:

    #!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
    
    [Desktop Entry]
    Version=1.0
    Type=Application
    Terminal=false
    Icon=calibre
    Exec=ebook-viewer
    Name=Calibre Ebook Viewer
    Comment=Display .epub files and other ebook formats
    MimeType=application/x-mobipocket-ebook;application/epub+zip;
    StartupWMClass=calibre-ebook-viewer
    
  3. Save the file. You should now be able to launch Calibre's inbuilt ebook viewer both from the dash and through the right click "Open with" menu.

  • 3
    calibre is amazing. You can import just about any format and convert it to just about any other. Great for downloading magazines, viewing books, and pushing to your favorite ebook reader. – csgeek Nov 22 '10 at 15:07
  • Yes, well, providing it outputs properly. Tried doing an ePub to RTF translation the other day (I am a huge fan of Gentium Book Basic, so I try to retypeset all my books) and had OO complain the file was corrupt. – Samizdata Nov 24 '10 at 12:33
  • Today got my first epub file. Did not know this format existed. – Luis Alvarado Mar 1 '12 at 12:49
  • Calibre is great for managing epub books, for syncing them to your ereader (and much better than the Sony software), but in my experience the built in reader is slow. The firefox addon mentioned in the other answer works a lot better. – SPRBRN Apr 4 '14 at 15:00
  • 5
    I do not like how it makes a copy of the book in it's own folder, this reminds me of itunes. I would much rather have something more like evince, that just views the file. I tried creating the .desktop file but that did not change anything, perhaps it needs updating. – Steven C. Howell Dec 4 '16 at 4:45

I recommend fbreader. Small, fast, single key page turning. Quite pleasant.

Use the command line to install FBreader:-

sudo apt-get install fbreader

  • Decent app, a bit buggy, but it works. – HDave Aug 19 '12 at 15:26
  • Opens for me epub documents that "calibre" couldn't. $ sudo apt-get install fbreader – leticia Oct 12 '13 at 1:32
  • 10
    Although whomever decided to call the fbreader executable FBReader deserves to be shot. – g33kz0r Apr 5 '16 at 22:38
  • 6MB vs 201MB of extra space used. Worth to try.. – Kostanos Mar 2 '17 at 2:53
  • It just miss the table of content on a side pan, has Chmsee had (although it could only read CHM). – Hibou57 Oct 7 '17 at 23:15

I prefer Okular, a document viewer made for KDE. It has features including bookmarks and highlighting.

It's available in the main ubuntu repository and can be installed on a plain vanilla Ubuntu installation; kubuntu is not required.

To be able open epubs with okular, you must also install the okular-extra-backends package.

    sudo apt-get install okular okular-extra-backends 
  • This is larger than Calibre, around 300 MB total. – Abhishek Divekar Jun 6 '17 at 16:46
  • And unbearably slow for this ePub book I'm reading... FBreader is incomparably faster. – Yan King Yin Jul 15 '17 at 10:21
  • Okular is good for exporting to PDF though. – Yan King Yin Jul 15 '17 at 10:33
  • 347MB at least, without the plugins for ePub and CHM, it’s too big. – Hibou57 Oct 7 '17 at 23:20

Another useful option, try this in Firefox; https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/45281/, a fairly good extension for the Firefox web browser that lets you read .epubs from the browser, especially good since on Ubuntu you are likely to be using Firefox and it is usually kept open when you are using your computer.

  • 1
    Super! Fast and I like the fact that it's just another tab in the browser. – SPRBRN Apr 4 '14 at 14:57
  • 4
    It have to be mentioned that, unlike any other alternative on this page, that extension is non-free. – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 6 '15 at 22:03
  • @DmitryAlexandrov, as of March 2017 it seems to be free. Good software. – Aakash Shah Apr 5 '17 at 23:20
  • @AakashShah, alas, false hope. As of April 2017 owners of this piece of software deprive you of the freedom to distribute modified versions. Thus, this software is non-free and has nothing good in it. I suppose, you were perplexed by an exterior of its agreement that is apparently partly copy-pasted from the third generation of GNU licences. – Dmitry Alexandrov Apr 11 '17 at 3:41

MuPDF can read epub files, and is only 3 MB.

It may be too minimalistic for some, but I loved it! Way faster than xpdf!

  • It just lacks CHM support. – Hibou57 Oct 7 '17 at 23:21
  • … and it lacks text selection too, since it displays pages as images. – Hibou57 Oct 7 '17 at 23:29

Compared to Calibre and FBreader, I find Readium Chrome extension offers a much better user experience:

Readium is written in javascript and looks much more modern. Hope it will help other Linux users.

Coolreader 3 http://sourceforge.net/projects/crengine/ one or two pages, bookmarks, memory last reading pages, settings background, fonts, fonts color. Settings avilable only for root, but save for user. PPA https://launchpad.net/~vovansrnd/+archive/ubuntu/coolreader

Editor fb2 http://fb2edit.lintest.ru

lucidor at http://lucidor.org/lucidor/download.php does a decent job. I completely removed calibre from my system because it doesn't let me leave the books in my own directory structure. (Then spent hours moving the thousands of books into a directory structure I like by hand.) I couldn't find coolreader to try. Okular I like but the extensions did not work on epub for me. fbreader works but you have to open it up first and then the book whereas lucidor you can right click from the file manager to associate epubs to lucidor.

  • Unfortunately, it looks like the website is dead. – balu Jul 21 '16 at 5:43
  • Seems like source code and Debian packages are nowhere to be found anymore (except for this older version here which I can't guarantee can be trusted). There is a Firefox plugin, though, called "Lucifox". – balu Jul 21 '16 at 5:55
  • I have now switched to Okular. It took a while to get it working but oh well. – Ivor O'Connor Aug 3 '16 at 17:43
  • 1
    @balu, seems the website is back. – Hibou57 Oct 7 '17 at 23:25

Another option may be Ebook-Viewer, a GTK ePub reader. But it seems to lack DRM support.

nov.el is an excellent Emacs package that allows you to read EPUB files in Emacs.

There is also a corresponding Spacemacs layer which allows you use all the Evil (Vim) key bindings when reading.

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