reading

Top Reading Apps in 2021

As our world becomes increasingly digital, it’s no surprise readers are turning away from their beloved hardbacks and replacing them with eBooks. Storing thousands of books on our smartphones has never been easier - discover the top reading apps available in 2021.

Digitised books have soared in popularity due to their convenience, space efficiency, and cheaper prices. If you like to travel a lot, reading apps can be a godsend - you can take 1,000s of books with you with none of the weight. You can also pick up dedicated reading devices, like Kindles, that offer hundreds of GB of storage to hold all your reading in one portable place. 

So which reading apps are worth downloading onto your devices? Take a look at our top picks below. 

If you’re looking for reading apps suitable for kids,  click here.

Amazon Kindle

Free to download

Apple

Android

Amazon Kindle is the most popular reading app around today, which can be synced across devices. So if you do have a Kindle, you can easily access those books on your smartphone while commuting. You don’t actually need a Kindle to enjoy this app, the sync feature is just an added bonus.

The app contains a large variety of books, newspapers and magazines, with a library of over 1000+ eBooks and audiobooks. 

Features:

  • Sample any eBook for free before purchasing
  • Magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, and textbooks all have clear and high-resolution colour images
  • Customise your experience by adjusting font size and style
  • Adjustable screen brightness for reading at night or in sunshine
  • Store and share quotes by highlighting memorable passages while reading
  • Hover over a word to learn its meaning or translation 

Apple Books

Free to download

Apple

Apple Books is (non-surprisingly) only available on iOS devices - so we’re talking just iPhones, iPads, and smartwatches by Apple. The interface is simple, clear, and easily navigable, fitting with Apple’s signature style for their many devices. You can use iCloud to sync your books across all of your iOS devices.

Explore millions of books and audiobooks across all categories, like fiction, non-fiction, horrors, romances, children’s books, comics, and thrillers. 

Features:

  • Explore the Top Charts feature to find the best and newest releases. The app will make personal recommendations based on your interests 
  • Preview and sample books before purchasing 
  • Add books and audiobooks to your Want to Read collection 
  • Customise your reading by adjusting fonts, sizes, and page colours
  • Auto-Night mode allows you to adjust screen brightness to protect your eyes in certain lighting

Google Play Books

Free to download

Apple

Android

Explore Google’s library of eBooks and audiobooks with the Google Play Books app, available on both Android and iOS devices. With millions of texts available, you can download your favourites to read offline. When you’re done, browse your personalised recommendations to find your next read. 

Features:

  • Preview samples of books and audiobooks before you buy
  • Synced across Android, iOS, and your web browser, so you can pick up where you left off
  • Bring comic books alive with Bubble Zoom, meaning your comic can come to life on the page
  • Sync your notes or highlights on Google Drive to share with others
  • The Night Light setting automatically alters your screen’s brightness as the day goes on

Audible

Free to download

Apple

Android

Though the app is free to download, Audible charges a subscription of £7.99 per month (after a 30-day free trial) to maintain access to the library of books, which you also purchase separately. Even though this service is more expensive than others, Audible boasts the largest selection of audiobooks and podcasts on the market. 

You can purchase and listen to thousands of books, narrated by some of your favourite authors and celebrities, and download them to stream offline. Members also have access to Audible Original Podcasts, where you can stay up to date on your favourite true crime documentary, celebrity podcast, or comedy show. 

Features:

  • Members can enjoy savings of up to 80% of audiobooks
  • You can still access your purchased audiobooks, even if you cancel your Audible subscription
  • Unlimited access to hundreds of podcasts without additional payment
  • Swap audiobooks 
  • Earn a credit each month to spend on an audiobook

Scribd

Free to download

Apple

Android

Scribd is more specialised than some of the other reading apps out there. As well as some books and audiobooks, this app gives you access to the world’s largest document library, including over 60 million documents, government reports, case studies, academic dissertations, magazine articles, research, and sheet music.

When you register with Scribd, you get 30 days free, where you have full access to as many books as you want. Once the trial ends, you can sign up to a monthly subscription of £9.99.

Features:

  • Can be synced across all devices
  • Customise the narration speed on audiobooks, or font size, type, and colour on books
  • Download to read offline
  • Make notes and annotations on your readings

If your reading interests lie beyond fiction books and documentaries, Scribd is a good option. 

Nook

Free

Apple

Android

Nook is Barnes & Noble’s eBook library, offering readers over four million eBooks, magazines, comics, and graphic novels. Nook is the go-to place to find the newest releases and bestsellers, as well as upcoming novel promotions from popular authors. Of the four million offerings, you can access over 75,000 titles for free. 

You can download samples, stream offline, browse your personalised recommendations, and customise your text. 

Features:

  • Customisable fonts, line spacings, margins, animations, colours, and brightness
  • Add notes and highlights to share with others
  • Synced across all devices
  • Read and Record function turns books into audiobooks 
  • In-app dictionary offers translations and definitions to every word on the page
  • ArticleView reads magazine articles aloud for you
  • Assistive technology aids people with visibility impairments

Reading apps for kids

Epic!

Free with in-app purchases

Apple

Android

Designed for 4 - 12 year olds, Epic! provides children unlimited access to 40,000 eBooks, audiobooks, videos, and quizzes to encourage them to learn more about their interests. They are associated with big publishers like National Geographic, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Scholastic, and more. 

The app offers two versions:

  • Epic for the Home: 40,000 books and videos costing £7.99 per month for up to four individual accounts 
  • Epic for Educators: Free for school teachers and librarians

Features:

  • Books in multiple languages for learning and inclusivity
  • Online and offline reading
  • Personalised recommendations based on child’s reading levels and interests
  • Includes a free month trial 
  • Synced across all devices

Homer

Free with in-app purchases

Apple

Android

For children aged 2 - 8, Homer is a learning program that encourages children to love reading by divulging their interests. The colourful animations and interactive activities are personalised based on your child’s reading level. The app claims to increase reading scores by 75% in just fifteen minutes per day. 

Features:

  • Stories and activities categorised: Reading, Maths, Creativity, Thinking Skills, and more
  • Lessons, games, stories, and songs included
  • Up to four customisable profiles
  • Parents can access additional resources
  • No ads

FarFaria

Free with in-app purchases

Apple

Android

For kids aged 1 - 9, FarFaria offers read-aloud books as bedtime stories or to help children learn how to read. Read To Me is an option on every eBook available from the library, with classics like Rapunzel and The Wizard of Oz on offer. 

Use the app for free with one book per day, or have unlimited access with a £4.99 monthly subscription across five devices. 

Features:

  • New books added each week
  • Word highlighting helps children follow along as book is read aloud
  • Personalised based on reading level
  • Offline access to Favourites list

If you’re a parent, you may also be interested in purchasing a kid-friendly tablet, downloading parenting apps, or learning more about how to keep your child safe online.
 

So there you have it. If you’re thinking of ditching the hardcover for an unlimited library of eBooks in your pocket, there’s no shortage of reading apps out there for both adults and children. 


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