You need two things to compete with the growing number of e-reader apps available for iPad and iPhone: a great feature set and access to the right books.
When the “right books” are LDS books, Deseret Bookshelf (v1.2), developed by Deseret Book, is at the top of the list. Designed to read and study LDS books, Deseret Bookshelf is an app worth having, despite the current version’s somewhat disappointing feature set.
Deseret Bookshelf is designed to give more than just an enjoyable e-reading experience. It is also an effective gospel study tool.
It supplies an unsurpassed library of LDS books in the bookstore, starting with the scriptures, LDS study helps and eight free LDS books.
The bookstore also contains harder-to-find materials, like out-of-print titles, as well as materials from university entities, such as BYU’s Maxwell Institute.
Despite having just over half the number of titles projected for its launch, there is no other app or platform that can offer as extensive a list to choose from (currently more than 1,400 titles). The Kindle store does carry more than 1,200 Deseret Book titles.
One feature that sets it apart from other e-readers is that scripture references in e-books are linked to the scriptures and accessed with a touch of the finger. All library materials are also searchable, with virtually instantaneous results.
It is intuitive to use overall. The biggest downside is the slow loading time and waiting for the app to recalculate pages when font settings are changed. Sometimes these waits end in the app crashing and needing to restart.
Also, the lack of highlighting and note-taking features hold it back from being a more usable gospel study tool for those who like to mark and note while they read.
Overall, Deseret Bookshelf is a very promising app. According to Matt McBride, digital-product director for Deseret Book Co., slow navigation, lack of highlighting and note-taking features are all areas that are currently being improved.
Moving onto other platforms such as Android, and continually adding books, manuals and magazines to the bookstore, are also ongoing processes.
For now, this app will be great for those who enjoy reading and cross-referencing LDS Books on an iPad or iPhone platform or for those who want access to their LDS library anywhere they go. It is also a great deal for those who want those eight free LDS books plus the scriptures and study aids.
For those who do not enjoy reading on a small screen (iPhone) or who prefer e-ink to a computer screen (iPhone/iPad), who need the highlighting or note-taking features or who get frustrated by waiting for an e-book to load, Deseret Bookshelf is still a deal, but they may want to wait until a few things are updated before buying ebooks at the bookstore.
Rachael Reynolds currently walks around with an iPhone 3GS in her pocket. More than just a phone, it is her to-do list, grocery list, newspaper and now her e-reader.