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21 Best Reading Apps for Your Phone or Tablet
July 17, 2021
Reading time: 9 minutes
The way we read has changed drastically in the past few years. While some readers like to keep shelves of books that they can touch, page through, and look at. Others would rather enjoy a good read and then move on, cutting down on dust and clutter. And just because you’ve used one reading app for the past few years doesn’t mean you have to stick with it.
Some new book reading apps come with exciting features, such as sampling titles before you buy or reading library books for free. Most work with or without WiFi, too. Whether you’re more into the latest fiction by Stephen King and Delia Owens or books to boost your business from Stephen Covey or Christopher Voss, we’ve got something for all voracious readers with our list of the 21 best reading apps for mobile devices and tablets.
You’ll notice we’ve ranked each app by star ratings on Google Play and the App Store. We gave preference to selections that get high marks from lots of users on both platforms. Some online reading apps score high on one platform but low on another, which you’ll want to take into consideration as you make your decision. To combat this difference and give you a jumpstart, we’ve chosen the best ebook reading app for each platform in spots 1 and 2.
1. Libby by Overdrive – best book reading app for iOS
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user hunting for a better experience than Apple Books, you just hit the literary jackpot. When it comes to good book apps, Libby by Overdrive is beloved by more than a million iOS users.
It taps into zillions of both ebook and audiobook titles from your local library. Just download the app, log in, and start reading for free. You can read new magazines, too. The app is also on Android, but users report that it can be a bit glitchy on that platform.
If you own an Android phone or reading tablet, you’re going to love ReadEra. It handles books in all formats including fb2, mobi, azw3, pdf, MS Word, and others. There are no ads, and the reader automatically finds all compatible material on your device and adds it to your library. Navigation and reading are intuitive and customizable.
Price: Free (premium version unlocks extra features)
Download for Android – 4.8 stars from 655K reviews
3. Goodreads – excellent iOS reading app
Goodreads is one of the best reading apps for iOS. Apple fans call it a life-changing piece of software for its intuitive layout and the ability to create “shelves” of favorite books. You can also see reviews from friends. Most importantly, the recommendations for best books in different genres are extremely satisfying.
Download for Android – 3.7 stars from 124K reviews
4. Amazon Kindle
For Android, it’s pretty hard to beat the Amazon Kindle reading app. With millions of very happy users, this one lets you download and organize titles, and sample the first chapter of most books for free. You can search your entire library with ease, and even search within books for a word or phrase. In short, it just works.
Download for Android – 4.7 stars from 1.7M reviews
5. eBoox – runner up for Android
For another great Android reading app, try eBoox. This one handles any format you can throw at it and is totally ad-free. Set it up the way you want it, and enjoy a seamless and fast user interface. It’s one of the few ebooks apps with a score higher than 4.7 on Google Play.
You can even sync it with Google Drive for workflow assistance. Its downside is that it’s not very popular on iOS.
Download for Android – 4.8 stars from 127K reviews
6. Nook by Barnes & Noble
B&N’s Nook is another popular ebook reader that’s best for iOS but still a good choice on Android. It’s free and gives you access to more than 4 million Barnes & Noble titles, including more than 75,000 free books. A handy preview option lets you try each book before you buy it, and you can easily sync your books across all your devices.
Download for Android – 4.4 stars from 160K reviews
It’s not entirely clear why Overdrive has two apps for reading: Overdrive and Libby by Overdrive. For a while it seemed like the developer planned to discontinue one, but both are still going strong. Both provide access to a slightly different list of titles at your local library, so it pays to download both. Access books from more than 40,000 libraries worldwide and read in a convenient, customizable interface.
Download for Android – 4.4 stars from 201K reviews
8. Epic – best kids’ books ereader
If you’re looking for the best reading app to find and download children’s books, you struck gold with Epic. This is by far the best ereader app for kids. It’s also free to download, and it supplies an almost unlimited list of books, games, stories, and other learning fun. A neat interface makes each word big as the narrator reads it, helping your child learn to read faster.
It will come as no surprise that Apple's free book reading app is not available on Android devices. What may surprise you is that it’s unrated on the App Store. That may be because this free ereader comes pre-installed on all iOS devices, so there’s no need to download it. It’s got an easy-to-use interface, with access to millions of ebooks and audiobooks.
The Wattpad reader is nothing if not popular, with 4.2 million ratings on the Google Play store. What makes this app so unique is that you can write and upload your own stories any time you like. It’s kind of like YouTube for writers, letting you build an audience for your work. There are ads, though.
Download for Android – 4.1 stars from 4.2M reviews
11. eReader Prestigio
It’s not available on iOS, but eReader Prestigio is hugely popular on Android. Users like that it’s constantly improving. They also crow about its convenient text-to-speech feature that can turn almost any title into an instant audiobook. Some readers complain of glitches introduced by frequent updates.
Download for Android – 4.6 stars from 412K reviews
AIReader only works on the Android mobile platform, but it’s beloved for its simplicity and versatility. It can handle any ebook format, and its text-to-speech mode lets you listen while you’re driving or out for a walk. Its settings make it deeply customizable and easy to enjoy.
Download for Android – 4.6 stars from 103K reviews
13. FB Reader
Another solid Android option, the FB Reader handles several ebook formats with customized skins like black print on parchment to cut down on eye strain. Sync your titles via Google’s Book Network, and use online dictionary integration to enhance your reading experience.
Download for Android – 4.4 stars from 219K reviews
The Scribd audiobooks and ebooks reading app supports an almost unlimited number of formats for books, audiobooks, magazine articles, and even sheet music. It’s ad-free, though the subscription price may make some shoppers hesitate. However, the price unlocks a wealth of magazines and books.
Download for Android – 4.4 stars from 532K reviews
15. PocketBook Reader
This simple reader gives you access to almost any format for ebooks and audiobooks for free. It’s customizable, with 2 night reading modes, margin cropping, and easy font selection. It also has built-in dictionaries and a translator. It’s packed with other features that make it a nice find, too.
A favorite for years, Kobo Books by Rakuten paves the way to enjoy millions of free and paid ebooks and audiobooks. Read in 10 languages in a customizable interface that you can customize at will. Audiobook navigation is simple and intuitive, and the recommendations are top-notch.
Download for Android – 4.4 stars from 270K reviews
17. Google Play Books
Google Play Books has lower usage numbers on the App Store because it’s not a native iOS reading app. It has a respectable 4.5 stars rating, however, which is actually better than on Google Play. Users love its Google-backed search feature and handy dictionary feature, though frequent updates tend to make it glitchy.
Download for Android – 4.1 stars from 201K reviews
Only for Android users, the FullReader app by ITENSE supports every ebook format and even plays mp3 files. Its interface is stylish and convenient, and it lets you store your titles locally or in the cloud. If you’re looking for apps that read books to you, this one does that and even translates from other languages.
If you love comic books, chances are you’ll love the Astonishing Comic Reader. Its elegant, simple interface serves up your favorite comics in mobile form, with a powerful zoom feature that brings the artwork up close. This app works so well you hardly notice it’s an app at all.
Can’t use the Astonishing Comic Reader on your iPad or iPhone? Don’t sweat it. The ComiXology reader can support your superhero side. It’s frequently rated as the best comics app for iOS, but it lacks customizability.
This list of the best book apps and free reading apps in Google Play and the App Store will take you from Moby Dick to The Thirty Years War to The Last Thing He Told Me and beyond. From classics to contemporary; audiobooks to PDFs, you’ll find plenty to love, though Libby and ReadEra top the list.
About the Author: Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.
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