I have tried each of these apps, and I want to recommend them to you as someone who wants books but doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on them. Also, I recognize that a some of my reader friends out there don’t always have the money to read the books they want, and I think that this is supremely unfair.
Readers deserve books; plain and simple.
Check out my list below if you’re looking for some sweet, new reads at no cost to you.
Nook is an oldie but goodie, and I’ve always preferred it to Kindle. When I first got into the e-reader scene, I had both apps on my tablet. When searching for free books, or just books in general, Nook had the more seamless experience. I couldn’t seem to find free book options on Kindle, whereas on Nook I simply had to type “free” into the search box.
Finding and downloading books on Nook is much easier and cuter. You can save books into your app without even downloading them— that way, your titles will all be in one place, ready for you to click the simple “download” button and start reading.
When looking for books in Kindle, the app connects you to amazon.com with your clunky phone or tablet internet browser and the experience simply isn’t my favorite. Reading in the Nook app is a bit more simplistic as well; Kindle gives you the option of looking up words and highlighting in-app, but one wrong tap when you’re reading and frustration ensues. Most book-lovers I know want to feel like they’re reading a book, not a device.
Nook is just a nice, quick app. Turning pages and downloading books is quick and simplistic, where Kindle is a bit clunky and even slow (I’m trying to read a book, not play an MMO— there shouldn’t be lag). Apparently, there is a reader interface you can download with Kindle that makes the reading more attractive, but for something as big-name as Kindle and Amazon, this is unacceptable. The app should be able to stand on its own.
I have to read through Kindle right now because I’m already subscribed to Prime and I like free books, but you don’t have to. Go with Nook. It’s great.
There is a special place in my heart for this app for a number of reasons. Number one is that all of the books are free, because the app is essentially an e-library. If you don’t have a library card with your local library, this app won’t work because you need that library account to connect. However, the great thing about libraries is that they’re free and meant to be accessible to everyone. Go get your card!
Once you get connected to the app you have access to popular, free e-books. I’ve read such titles as, The Night Circus, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Wild, and more, all for free in this app.
There are some minor interface issues with Overdrive. It is a little clunky and bland-looking. However, these issues don’t bother me in the slightest, because I truly believe Overdrive wasn’t made to hoard profits and reach large audiences. It’s just a great app trying to get free books to people who can’t afford to buy new ones.
That said, as it is an e-library, books are not unlimited. They have a set amount of copies just as a regular library would and, like a regular library, you might be put on some waiting lists to read what you really want to read. And once you have the book downloaded, you have a limited amount of time before you have to “give it back,” which I believe the app does automatically so you don’t have to worry about forgetting. Still, the app is absolutely free and I would highly recommend you check it out. There is nothing to lose.
3. Serial Reader
This is the most adorable app on the list. If this app were a person, it would be an old-timey, British man, or a flapper from the 1920’s. Each of the books on this app are free because their copyrights have expired and they are now free to share and use by everyone. The thing that makes Serial Reader different, though, is that it serves you bite-sized chapters of the book you’re reading each day.
It divides your book of choice into reading sessions that last about 10 minutes each depending how fast you read. It gives you a new session each day until you’ve finished the book, and you can “subscribe” to as many books as you want. Every time you finish a session the app congratulates you in a cutesy, old-timey manner like, “Oh, posh, you’ve read another one!”
Also, once you’ve read a certain amount of words the app gives you fun facts about history and world-famous libraries. It’s an amazing way to read all the classics because you get to do it in bits and pieces and the app is a great motivational tool.
The fun thing about Serial Reader is that it appears to be based on the way many working-class people read books in the Victorian Era. Since books were so expensive and coveted as the prime form of entertainment, many people had their books published as “serials” in the daily newspaper. If you’re a history nerd, you might really like this app.
Serial Reader does offer a subscription service that gives you things like the ability to read multiple “chapters” a day. If reading the classics for free in an app appeals to you, but you would rather read them faster than 10 minutes a day, I also recommend:
4. Free Books
You’ve probably heard of Project Gutenberg. Each of the books in Free Books are free for public use because the copyrights have expired (just like in Serial Reader). Project Gutenberg is a well-known web database of these free books, but unfortunately, Project Gutenberg looks like it was made in 1997. It could use some serious updating. However, no one wants to read a book in their browser anyway, so I would recommend skipping PG and finding a worthwhile app instead.
Free Books is one of the more well-known ones, but I’m sure there are plenty of others that you could try out as well.
If you want books more up to date for a good balance of old and new, check out:
Wattpad is a wonderful app for wonderful people. I love it. It’s great for readers and writers alike. The books here are free because they’re written by people trying to get published. Not all of these books will be finished right away, because they’re usually works-in-progress. They’ll typically be published chapter-by chapter.
As anyone can publish on the site, some books won’t be… good… but since it is such a social app, navigating the good from the bad shouldn’t be hard. Many of the books on here are real gems that you can read as they’re being finished. You can also comment on them, and possibly even influence the turns they take, if the author trusts your judgement. It’s the ultimate social media app for readers and writers.
Spotlight this time goes to Alicia, who commented on my last post about stressing over your college major. (And why you shouldn’t.)
Comment below and tell me which of these apps you’ve tried and your experiences with them. Got more suggestions for free books, digital or otherwise? Tell us your secrets and share the reader-love!