Reading ebooks with Arianna

8 July, 2024

I don’t read many ebooks on my laptop. There are a number of reasons for that, none of them important or shocking.

When I do read a ebook on my laptop, I use an application called Foliate. It’s been a favourite of mine for years, and I’ve been using it regularly since my StarLite Mark V tablet landed in my hands.

Of course, there are times when app wanderlust sets in. I’m not immune to it. So, I decided to check out a few other ebook readers for the Linux desktop. One that caught my eye was Arianna, a reader for KDE that’s focused solely on books in the EPUB format.

Let’s take a look at it.

Getting Arianna

As I mentioned above, Arianna is an application for the KDE desktop. You can install it on KDE from an AppStream application store.

But what if you’re not using KDE? You can install it as a Flatpak or as a snap. It might also be available from your Linux distribution’s software centre. It can’t hurt to check …

Using Arianna

When you first fire up Arianna, it scans your /home directory for books with the extension .epub. In fact, it does this each time you start it.

Here’s what the application looks like after its starts and does a scan:

Arianna, with ebooks loaded

As an aside, I found that Arianna scanning for books can be a good way to find multiple copies of ebooks on my computer.

Click on an ebook’s title and it opens (no surprise there!). Out of the box, Arianna displays a book in a two-column view (as shown below):

Arianna’s default two-column view

You can change that in the applications’s settings (more on this in a moment), or you can manually resize the screen to get a one-column effect.

To move through the pages of a book, press the right and left arrow keys on your keyboard or click the controls at bottom of window, as shown below:

Arianna’s navigation bar

You can also navigate through a book by clicking the Table of Contents icon in top-right corner of the screen to pop out a list of the book’s chapters and sections. Here’s an example:

Arianna displaying a book’s table of contents

Fiddling with Settings

Arianna’s settings are fairly basic, as you can see below:

Arianna’s settings

You can change the default width of the reading window from 1,400 pixels to something smaller (or larger). Setting it to 600 pixels, for example, changes the view to a single column. Here’s an example:

Arianna in one-column mode

You can also change the font used in ebooks, the height of lines, and enable or disable justification and the hyphenation of text. Nothing fancy, but it works.

Some Quibbles

All of that is well and good, but I ran into a few quirks when using Arianna.

Right clicking on a page pops up a menu with a few options that didn’t work for me. Well, selecting the Reload option does work, but that takes you back to the cover of book that you’re reading.

On top of that, Arianna doesn’t remember where you were in a book. When you close the application and open the book again, you start at the cover.

I’ve been wondering if that (and the right click menu not working) is because Arianna is a KDE application that I’m running as a Flatpak on a GNOME-based desktop. Perhaps the Flatpak version is missing a sprinkling of KDE magic dust that makes those features work?

Also, Arianna only supports EPUBs (including DRM-free Kobo EPUBs and advanced EPUBs). I prefer to read EPUBs, but a reader which only supports that format might be limiting for some.

Final Thoughts

There were aspects of Arianna that I liked, but those aspects were overshadowed by some of the problems that I mentioned above. Compared to other ebook readers I’ve used, like Foliate or Bookworm, Arianna falls a bit flat. It just isn’t the desktop ebook reader for me.

Scott Nesbitt