The Best Free Reading Apps [Update]

Whether you’re a longtime ebook reader or just starting out, we absolutely need these apps to read across multiple platforms or formats. We need the BEST free reading apps.  Maybe a book you really want is on sale at Amazon for a screaming deal, but you only own a Nook? Or maybe you like sneaking in some reading at work by using your phone. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

It’s possible that you might not be aware of how many retailers of e-books are actually out there and you’re not sure what platform you want to use. That’s why I compiled a list of the best free reading apps from the biggest retailers out there. No reason to deny us bookworms our fix! Plus by using a retailer’s free app, you can purchase any book straight away right from the app. Excellent, right?

Use one or them all, it doesn’t matter. Just continue reading. Even in the bathroom at work.

So, on to the best free reading apps from your favorite retailers!

*This post may contain affiliate links.  This simply means if you buy something, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. See full Affiliate Disclosure.*

The Kindle App – the Granddaddy of eReader Apps

Perhaps the most well-known reading app is Amazon’s Kindle app. You can access any of your Amazon purchases or documents sent to your Kindle’s email on your phone or tablet. Thus, you can just connect your Amazon account and away you go!

The Kindle App

Even if you prefer other ebook retailers, this app is a must-have for any reader. The sheer number of ebook freebies Amazon offers that you can find nowhere else makes this app a necessity. (Yes, ebooks are often put on sale, or even free, especially if they’re the first book in a series.) Don’t believe me? Check out Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals page for deep discounts on some awesome books.

Of course, Amazon also offers a subscription service called Kindle Unlimited (KU) that allows you to read (and listen) to as many books as you want in a month as long as the book is in the KU program. Any book in the program is only available on Amazon, also. Pretty awesome if you read a million books a year (slight exaggeration), like me.

If you’re already a Prime member, you can borrow books too! This is another awesome way to save if you’re a prolific reader. Not a member? Then sign up for Amazon Prime.

The only downside to this app (or any reading app, actually) is the fact it IS an application on a device. It will freeze occasionally, especially if you overload it as I do by collecting thousands of free books throughout the years. But if your ebook number is less than five thousand, it’s excellent.

The best part? It’s available for android and apple too!

Best Free Reading Apps
Earbuds for Audiobook Enjoyment.

The Audible App – For Listening Ear

If you haven’t tried audio yet, then I suggest you do. I only got into them this year and found out that after loving reading for 30 years I can love the audio version just as much.

If you love audiobooks, Amazon also owns Audible, which is the largest audiobook retailer. Audible has a lot of exclusive content you can’t find anywhere else, so it’s a definite consideration. Even if you only listen to books while working out, you will want this app. (Wait, people actually work out?)

As an extra, Audible runs deals for its subscribers (join HERE) and offers different plans. Plus, many audiobook prices are marked way down if you own the Kindle version as well. Some at $1.99. A steal!

Audible subscribers have another little perk for a bit extra, the Romance Package. If you’re a fellow romance junkie and want to listen to as many books as you want, then this is definitely worth it. So many books are offered and a LOT of big name authors too. Kristen Ashley anyone?

Audible App

The Nook App – Barnes and Noble’s Brain Child

If you prefer Barnes and Noble, they also have an app, of course. They have nearly the same ebook selection as Amazon, except for the books in the Kindle Unlimited program. Keep in mind, I said nearly. Some authors only offer their books on Amazon, but most NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors sell on all major platforms.

BN also runs a lot of the same ebook deals as Amazon, so it’s a great app to have.

Nook also has its own audiobook app, which is listed on its Mobile Apps page for you audio lovers!

Nook Mobile Apps

Google Play Books – Mega Giant’s Ebook Contribution

Most of us with androids already have a Google Play account, so it’s easy to purchase books and audiobooks from our account. As Google Play is also a huge ebook retailer, it often offers a lot of the same deals and freebies that Amazon does. Turn any tablet into an e-reader. Yes, even Apple users!

As a fun aside, you can have your lighting changed to nighttime reading as the evening wears on to make it less sleep disruptive when you finally put that awesome book down to sleep. At 2 am.

No need for a separate app for audiobooks, FYI. Excellent!

Google Play Books Apps

The Kobo App – The Favorite Cousin

The Kobo app can be installed on any device, even a BlackBerry. If you are still using one. Does anyone still use those?

This all-in-one app lets users read or listen to a book. Definitely a perk. Kobo also has quite a few deals and freebies you can snatch if you’re into that kind of thing. (Let’s be honest, who isn’t?)

With the free Kobo App, you’ll gain the freedom to read anytime, anywhere, on any device. Shop Now!

Or try a free audiobook membership:

Find more time for the stories you love. Your first audiobook is FREE.

Apple Books (formerly iBooks) – Doesn’t Play Well With Others

Sorry, Android users, this is only for the Apple devices.

If you’re an iPhone fan, you can snatch up the Apple Books and their audiobooks, all in the same app.

Apple Books App

Walmart eBook App – The Funny Uncle

Kobo and Walmart teamed up to launch another ebook platform. It even includes audiobooks. It’s fairly new, but give it a whirl. Walmart also has an audiobook subscription that’s a bit cheaper than Audible, which you can check out below.

Don’t feel too bad if you get confused by this. Walmart is actually selling Kobo ebooks. That means you’ll often be redirected to a Kobo site when searching for Walmart audiobook subscription.  Both Kobo and Walmart websites include help topics about each other. It IS confusing.

Walmart eBooks App

Libby by Overdrive – Support Your Local Library

If you’re more conservative with what books you choose to purchase, this app is perfect for library users! Yes, that’s right. Your library has a ton of ebooks and audiobooks just waiting for you to enjoy.

If you read more than your budget allows (who doesn’t?), this app is a must-have. Just have to be a cardholder at your local library!

Libby, by Overdrive Apps

Smashwords – Independent Authors Galore

This isn’t an app, but I included it because it’s a retailer of a lot of independent authors and you have the option of downloading the ebook file or reading it on the website. Quite useful, no matter your device, and a way to support many independent authors.

Are They Really the Best Free Reading Apps?

I personally think so.

No matter your device preference or financial means, entering the digital ebooks craze is easy and affordable. If you have a smartphone, you can read any digital book. You can still collect and treasure those beautiful paper books of course. We all love our favorites in actual book form as any bibliophile will attest. It’s a cheap and seriously convenient way to discover new favorites without the trip to a bookstore.

Don’t get me wrong, I love bookstores. I still love shopping there. But ebooks have opened up whole new worlds for me.

An added benefit is your spouse won’t complain about the three rooms you’d need for all your books if they weren’t held in one little device!

If you have any questions or comments or I forgot your favorite, I’m always available. Just shoot me an email or comment below!


Selenity Jade

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16 thoughts on “The Best Free Reading Apps [Update]”

  1. Great article! As an avid reader, I had no idea there were so many apps by which to read with. I have the kindle app on both my iPhone and ipad, but I’d be lying if I said I use the apps as often as I read old school real books! Paperbacks are so much easier on the eyes, and it’s much more relaxing not having the blue light screaming into our eyes… but at a pinch, I’d much prefer to use the kindle then be left without a book when I need one!

    1. That’s the beauty of the ereaders! The E-Ink screens are nothing like a phone or tablet. It’s almost exactly like reading from a paper book, even with lighting it’s easier on the eyes! Thanks for visiting! 

  2. I know many people that love kindle, I have yet to download it yet but I can see me doing this in the near future.  I’ve seen many books for sale through amazon and was thinking this is the better way to read and to keep a collection as you can store as many as you want through the cloud without taking up actual physical space in your home and its always accessible.  

  3. PatriciaDivineEssence

    Wow!! I am blown away. I didn’t even know you could borrow e books on amazon?! You can borrow books straight from the app?! I will definitely navigating through your website every once and awhile I found it opened up my future reading ventures in the go!! Kindle deals. Audio books too? I had no idea so thank you.  

    Many will find this website very informative and it is so organized. 

    Thank you for sharing your bio! I absolutely love it! I also can relate regarding personal life real name vs online name! I totally understand how they merge as one.

  4. Interesting topic I am still the traditional bookstore attendant because for some reason I love the smell of book pages. Another reason was that I’ve tried reading books from my phone and I got alot of eye strain and my eyes felt really dry afterwards. I would definitely try the audio books because I wasn’t aware that it’s almost a norm there days. I’m sure it will help with reducing the strain from my eyes as well. I’ve also downloaded a blue filter app for the strain caused by light when reading books on my phone and it works well. 

    I just honestly thought you only get ebooks on Amazon and play store or on websites, its surprising to  see that there’s actually so many platforms available on the net. The internet keeps surprising me daily. 

    1. Thanks for visiting! While the apps are awesome, if you have eye problems, an ereader is definitely the way to go. It’s almost as easy on the eyes as paper! 

  5. Hi Selenity, I’ve read your article very carefully. And I have found here very important information. This is especially a very important thing for me because I’m a longtime ebook reader. Kindle App has been very trustworthy to me, I agree to use it. Thank you very much for writing articles.

  6. Dear Selenity,

    Being a full-time blogger I do read daily and reading books is an important part of my business and personal life. I love to read and while doing some research I came across this informative and helpful post.

    I came to know some of the best free reading apps from your post which I am unaware of. I am using Amazon kindle for few years and I am a subscriber of kindle unlimited, its really helpful, amazing and user friendly. At the moment I am reading Think and Grow rich by Napolean Hill.

    To be honest never tried the rest of the reading apps you mentioned but going forward gonna try few, mainly Google Play Books. Indeed already my wife is shouting at my books collection, although its occupying just 3 shelves.

    Great information, you have really given a lot of value here.

    Much Success!


  7. I completely agree with your summary that this is really an E-Read Craze however in my opinion this is a positive craze. I liked the comment about Apple and their “does not play well with others”. As with every Apple device, there is little to no cross platform ability and if there is, it never works well. For this reason I stick to android and Kindle as there are less interface issues. 

    I have personally found that both Amazon and Google based devices give great product selection and it is really then about price and personal preference.

    Thanks for a great article.


    1. Apple definitely doesn’t play well with others. Even the charging cord is completely different than every Android or Kindle or device out there. I can charge my Kindle, phone and headset with one cord and just taking turns. Just pack one on a trip. Borrow one from someone. Oh, no, not iPhones. 😉

  8. Good job with this review. I did not realize that there were so many reading apps on the market. You did a great job bringing this to light and giving readers the opportunity to make an informed decision. Personally I started with the kindle and never strayed from that, one reason being that I was unaware of what else was out there. Now that I know, and have information on the others, I can consider my options. Will also bring this to the attention of my colleagues in the office. Good going with this. Wish you all the best.

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