If you want to carry a collection of books with you, you don’t necessarily need an ebook reader thanks to a selection of free-to-download ebook apps for mobile devices.
For book lovers who don’t fancy picking up a dedicated ebook reader, we’ve rounded up some of the best apps for reading ebooks on a smartphone or tablet. Read on for the details.
Best Buy ebook readers – not tempted by apps? Grab an ebook reader instead
The best apps for reading ebooks
Price: book prices vary (free books also on offer)
Available for: iOS
Apple’s own app for reading ebooks, predictably named iBooks, is a great place to start for iOS users. The stock reading app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and you can turn your device landscape to view two pages at a time. The free iBooks app (with over 2.5 million titles) also lets you adjust the appearance of the screen so that text is displayed on a black background, great for readers that like to relax with a book in the evening. Multiple books in a series are grouped together once downloaded, and Apple’s iCloud service will back up your collection.
The iBooks experience is also available on Macs running OS X Yosemite or later. There are a selection of free books on offer, but the majority of content is paid-for. You can also buy and play audiobooks right from iBooks.
2. Google Play Books
Google’s own ebooks app lets you bookmark specific pages, highlight text and make notes. Some titles support text-to-speech, and there are over four million books in total. While some of the books in the store are free, others can be purchased or just rented for a set time. You can upload your own personal documents (EPUB or PDF format) to Google Play Books as well, so you can access them through a desktop web browser or an Android or iOS device.
Books are all synced to your Google account, so you can start reading something on your tablet and then carry on from where you left off on your smartphone the next morning.
Just like iBooks, the Kindle app for iOS and Android is free to download, and you don’t need a Kindle ebook reader of your own to use it. Kindle for smartphones and tablets has a range of free titles to flick through (including Pride and Prejudice and Treasure Island), and it arrives with a built-in dictionary that makes looking up tricky words and phrases hassle-free.
There are more than 4 million books to choose from, and the app also supports popular magazines and newspapers. According to Amazon, over 650,000 titles on the Kindle app are on sale for £3.99 or less.
4. Kobo Reading App
Kobo’s own mobile ebook app is home to over 4 million paid-for and free titles, covering magazines, comics and books suitable for kids. Night Mode will reduce eyestrain during those late-night reading sessions, and the app can sync your bookmarks, notes and highlights so you can continue reading a book across different devices. You can even share your favourite book quotes and thoughts from inside the app.
5. 50,000 Free eBooks
This mobile app from Oodles is packed with free ebooks, so whether you’re an English literature student or a commuter looking for a new read, there’s plenty of choice. Books can be downloaded right to your mobile, and you can read them without an internet connection. Font style and size is customisable, and you can also download audiobooks for your offline collection. Popular books on the app include Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Moby Dick, Alice in Wonderland and Hamlet.
It’s worth noting that Oodles is better for classic novels than modern bestsellers, but the app is free after all.
Ebook reader reviews
We’ve reviewed the latest ebook readers around in our test lab, from the budget-priced Kindle Paperwhite (2015) to Amazon’s latest premium ebook reader, the Kindle Oasis (left). We’ve also put the waterproof Kobo Aura H2O through its paces, which could be an option if you enjoy reading in the bath or on holiday by the pool.
Head over to our ebook reader reviews page for more on popular models from big-name brands.
Would you happily read a book on your smartphone or tablet, or would you rather have a dedicated ebook reader to use on the go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Author: Tom Morgan