Navigating E-Readers: Books App

Many of us with vision loss struggle to read the fine print in books as well as we would like. As many avid readers do, I prefer an actual book in hand. There is just something special about the feel of the uniquely soft pages of a book, the smell that lingers after each turn of page, and the ummm...general lack of a screen...that just feels more cozy to me than an e-reader.

Finding new ways to read

Unfortunately, the struggles I face with failing vision have forced me to find new ways to continue doing all the things I love. Fortunately, that’s something I still get to do! Though I can still read the fine print in books fairly easily, I have found it helpful to use the Books App on my iPhone and iPad.

Books app

You can easily download books (and audiobooks) right to your Apple device using the Books App. It’s an orange app with a white book on it. You can even ask Siri to open the App for you by simply saying ‘Books App’ to ‘her,’ and she’ll bring you right to where you left off reading bookmark needed (but available at the click of a button if you choose to mark pages. More on this later in the article).

While there are many apps you can download to do this, Apple makes a great free app that comes right on all of their devices. This is good news, as all the books you download will go to each of your devices that are linked together by Apple ID or your iCloud.


I’ve honestly not yet investigated other e-reader apps because this one works really well for me. I do have both Apple and Android friends that use Kindles and an app called Audible. Audible has many of the same features that the Books app has. If you use an Android device, you can download the Audible Android App. If there’s any interest, I’d be happy to download this app for my next good read to write about it as well! Please let me know if that would benefit you.

Adjusting for visual needs

Many of us with macular degeneration see better in certain lighting or with different contrasting colors. Need a bigger font? See better with blockier fonts? Me too. Like fancier ones? Awesome! The Books App has some fantastic adjustment tools for those of us with vision impairment. From font type and size, screen and background color...all the way to automatic night shift settings, highlighting, or even audiobooks, this app never disappoints me.

Navigating the app

Once you click on the app to open in, your library will appear. Here, you will find all of the books you’ve downloaded onto your device.

While reading your book, if you need to change or adjust anything, simply click the screen and a toolbar will appear at the top. Toolbars give us shortcuts to specific functions on electronic devices.

The toolbar from left to right

  • The Back Arrow (<). Pressing this back arrow simply brings you out of your book and back to your library.

The Contents Icon (three dots next to three lines)

  • Contents. Under contents you will find the index of the book. You can easily click on chapters or sections of your book here.
  • Bookmarks. This feature is used as part of your toolbar and is all the way to the right. Once you bookmark a page, it shows up for easy access under your contents icon. Here, you can easily click to specific pages you’ve bookmarked.
  • Highlighting and Notes. If you press down and hold on a word within a section that you’d like to highlight you can! You can also create a note from your reading here, copy however much you want, and share it by text, email, messenger, facebook! All highlighted sections of books can be found in the notes tab of your contents icon.
  • Sharing Options. Besides sharing sections that you highlighted directly from your device, you can also share the entire book or section via the up arrow icon at the top left of your contents screen.
  • Resume. Click this at the top right of your contents screen at any time to quickly go back to where you were in your reading.

Font (AA)

This option has been the most helpful for me as I’m learning what works best for my vision. I have realized that I prefer different lighting and color settings at different times of the day. The Books App even allows me to automatically set the app to change to a darker setting (auto night theme) in the evenings. This is really convenient! To change the brightness of your screen, simply move the large white dot at the top to your desired brightness.

  • Font Size. To make your font size larger, press the larger A button as many times as you need. To make it smaller, press the smaller A.
  • Font Type. There are eight fonts to choose from for this e-reader app! Choose the one you prefer by clicking the right arrow (>) next to ‘Fonts.’
  • Font Color. You can easily change the background and font color by clicking on each of the four colored dots: white, tan, gray, black. You can also turn on auto-night theme here, where the color will automatically adjust in the evenings. Simply click the tab to turn it green (on).

Other tools

  • Scroll View. If you prefer to scroll (up and down) while you are reading instead of turning digital pages (left to right) you can do this from this screen as well. Simply click the tab to turn it green (on).
  • The Search Icon (magnifying glass). Want to find something in your book but can’t remember where it is? You can click the magnifying glass and type in what you’re searching for.
  • The Bookmark Icon (bookmark). The bookmark icon is the last symbol you’ll see on your toolbar. By simply clicking it, it turns red and automatically bookmarks that page for you on your device. As stated earlier, you can then find any bookmarked pages in the note section of your toolbar.

There are options for us!

There are options for those of us with failing vision and that is a GREAT thing! I hope that this article is helpful for you and gives you another option to continue reading! If you’re not an Apple user and would like me to write an article similar to this one about a different app, I’d be happy to do that! Let me know in the comments. If you’re an Android user and have suggestions on e-reader apps or if you use Kindles or the Audible App, please comment below!

Quick Tip:  Another way to get comfortable with the Books app (or any app) is by opening it up and playing around with the buttons and icons while referring to this article as guidance.

Happy Reading,

Andrea Junge

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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