PubReader review

April 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm | | literature, software

I’ve reviewed several PDF reader/organizers, like ReadCube, Papers, and Mendeley. Currently, I use Papers for organizing my PDF library on my computer. I also like Papers a lot for reading PDFs, because it displays in full screen so well. But I’ve started using Mendeley for adding citations to Word documents, because it makes it really easy to collaborate with other people who have Mendeley.

Now check out PubReader! It’s really cool. Pubmed has the advantage that it requires all research publications resulting from NIH funding to be uploaded to their depository. And they don’t just grab a PDF; they get the raw text and figures and they format it their own way. I used to think that was silly and overkill, but now I see that that approach was genius: it now allows Pubmed to reformat the papers into more readable shapes and sizes … and they can reformat in the future when the old format becomes antiquated. You can’t really do that with a PDF.

It’s always been nearly impossible to read PDFs on a phone or an e-ink tablet like the basic Kindle. Now, with PubReader and the beta option to download the article in an ePub format (for reading in iBooks or Kindle or something), that option is here. Or on its way, at least.

PubReader on a computer:


PubReader on iPad:

pubreader on ipad

ePub in iBooks:

ebook epub

Now PubReader just needs to display the references in an elegant way like ReadCube, and it will be the best!

It makes me think the future of reading and storing scientific papers is not the hard drive, but simply reading on online depositories. Pubmed allows you to create collection and star favorites, so you can just use Pubmed to store your collection of papers and never have to download a PDF again in your life!


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  1. I’m not even sure I want to get attached to one format or the other. Aren’t we just beholden to each publisher anyhow? It’s sort of like the whole beta vs vhs or blue ray vs HD DVD. I mean what if you just loved beta? You got jipped! Just wait for the publishers to come out with an industry standard and then go from there.

    Comment by Lance — April 22, 2013 #

  2. I’m using PubReader in Chrome, running Windows 8 (Wintel version, not RT).

    It doesn’t work worth a darn. Navigation is totally broken. The question-mark icon to change back to classic view is dead. I can’t turn PubReader off. Please make it stop.

    Comment by Michael — June 28, 2013 #

  3. Hi Michael, in this case, you can clear all your browsing history from Google Chrome. Then open the PMC page again and you can see the classic view.

    Comment by Jessie — July 17, 2013 #

  4. You forgot PubChase.

    Comment by Andrew — November 22, 2013 #

  5. cool, i’ll check it out.

    Comment by sam — November 22, 2013 #

  6. “… you can clear all your browsing history from Google Chrome.” That’s a nuisance.

    I’m using Firefox and WIN7, I have the same problem. The free articles open in PubReader even though I’ve “fixed” the problem a couple times. None of the nav buttons work. It’s a PITA.

    Comment by rick — November 30, 2013 #

  7. I have exactly the same pb as Rick using Chrome and WIN7 and loosing a lot of time trying to fix this ! I just hate PubReader!

    Comment by flo — December 3, 2013 #

  8. does not with chrome and window8. Its really a pain. So annoying.

    Comment by Tony — January 17, 2014 #

  9. I have to copy and paste the url into IE everytime a paper is “helpfully” popped into Pubreader. Doesn’t work in Chrome under Windows and under Android on a phone its impossible to control. Yet the NIH Pubreader page
    claims its completely compatible. Someone has their head buried up their Mac. This isn’t news, yet nothing being done.

    Comment by Mike Holloway — February 6, 2014 #

  10. I also can’t use Pubreader with Firefox (it works fine with Internet Explorer). Some links/buttons don’t work, and most frustratingly I cannot open figures. I’ve also noted that in IE if I paste the link for the article I get an HTML page with on the right a choice as to which program to use for a pdf version (or Pubreader), while with Firefox pasting the link just results in the Pubreader page being loaded. No choice.
    I’ve had this issue for a while and expected it to be fixed but clearly nothing is being done. This program clearly is not ready yet. The problem was already there on my previous Windows 7 computer, now I have the same with Windows 8.1 on my new laptop.

    Comment by Armel — March 14, 2014 #

  11. Ditto – PubReader not optional on Chrome – doesn’t work – have to go to IE each time – real waste of time, very poor. Please get rid of it – or add option to turn it off. Crazy that can’t turn it off.

    Comment by David Cain — April 22, 2014 #

  12. Hi, I also had the same Chrome problem and thought I will never see the classic view again!!…I solved in the following way: But I finally got the classic view
    Add ” ?report=classic” after the URL in the chrome… For example, If the Article URL is :

    Make it:

    So basically After the PMC article number in URL add “/?report=classic”

    Try It worked for me…I swear I wont ever try the pubreader again. or may be after sometime :P

    Comment by Pankaj — July 25, 2014 #

  13. hey,
    thanx a lot Pankaj .I got rid of Pubreader view

    Comment by Sameena Parveen — January 6, 2016 #

  14. All my files are organized in PDF. I use a decent laptop and am steamed that the NLM is forcing these formats down our throats. I wonder of this has to be because of some antitrust issue against Adobe. I hate being forced to use PubReader or print.

    Comment by Al Kok — November 22, 2019 #

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