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!
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!
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?
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!
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!
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?)
Or try a free audiobook membership:
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.
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.
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!
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!