Some people in the Mac community have been singing the praises of Stanza as the ebook interface for the discerning reader, so we thought we would give the new beta release a go.

Stanza is a simple application with a no-frills interface. You can load a wide variety of common ebook file formats into it, and then use the View options to split up the words into columns to display like a book or magazine.

Stanza distinguishes itself from other ebook readers with a wider variety of display options, and an ability to sync from a Mac to multiple devices including iPod touch and iPhone. A mobile version of Stanza is available for iPhone and iPod touch.

Sourcing books online

There are plenty of legitimate online sources for acquiring free books for Stanza. Sites such as Project Gutenberg, Baen.com and Wowio have literally millions of free books between them, including new books in addition to copyright free pre-1923 publications and classics. Just find and download your text and open it into Stanza.

The app is stable and easy to handle with next to no learning curve. You can read the book back in a variety of ways – as a ticker tape, for instance. Stanza strips out all graphics from the content, so although you can load any text documents into the app, documents with any imagery don't display well.

Most content loaded into Stanza displayed fine, but some books displayed poorly. Time Traders by Andre Norton displayed with symbols where the apostrophes and quotation marks should have been. The book displayed perfectly in TextEdit, so we put this down to a Stanza bug.

This app showed us how easy reading ebooks can be. Bugs persist but considering it was free at the time of writing, we recommend giving it a go.