I consider myself a moderate app user. On my phone, I have some games, social media, health and fitness and entertainment apps. I use them all occasionally but I don’t consider myself particularly well-versed in any of those app categories. However, when it comes to bookish apps, I like to think that my usage and knowledge levels bump up considerably. I often hear people lament the fact that they don’t have time to read — apps are a great way to up your reading efficiency without lugging a book around at all times. These apps aren’t all about reading e-books though, they’ll also help you connect with other readers, track your reading and manage your library books. All the bookish apps on my list are free to download and are available for iOS and Android (with one exception), some of them require you to purchase content, but a lot of them are completely free. If you’re not using any bookish apps currently, I’d highly recommend giving one of the following a try. (Note: these are the apps I use on my own iPhone and I definitely favor library-connected and free apps, so some big name subscription services like Scribd and Marvel Unlimited aren’t on my list).
comiXology: Personally, I prefer to read my comics physically rather than digitally, but when it comes to digital comics, comiXology is the best. The app’s guided view works really well and they have an outstanding selection of comics to choose from. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the selection offered in their unlimited monthly service ($5.99/month), but if you’re using the app to buy single issues or specific books, that’s not a problem. I mostly use comiXology to fill in holes in my collection, or when they have a good sale on something I’m interested in.
Goodreads: Goodreads is the biggest game in town when it comes to bookish social media. The app doesn’t offer the full functionality of the website, but it allows you to easily shelve, rate, and review books. My favorite thing about Goodreads (both the website and app) is the way it allows you to categorize your books by assigning them to different shelves. If you’re serious about tracking your reading, Goodreads is one of the easiest ways to do it.
BookMyne: This is my library’s app that lets me manage my holds and checkouts. It’s not a pretty app, but it gets the job done. I only use BookMyne to renew books and check if any of my holds have arrived. Not all public libraries offer an app, and not all of them use BookMyne – it’s worth talking to the folks at your local library to see if they have one; I know the convenience of renewing books via an app has saved me some serious $$ in overdue fines.
iBooks: This is one of those Apple products that comes pre-loaded on iPhones that you can’t delete. I’m sure there are some things it does well, I just haven’t bothered to figure them out yet. This is the one exception to my “all these apps are available for iOS and Android” statement, but fear not Android users, cause I’m not really recommending it highly here. In fact, I should probably just take iBooks off this list, but it is in my Books group on my phone and I’m a completist.
Hoopla: Boy do I love Hoopla. They have an outstanding selection of comics and audiobooks and the app is fairly well designed. The main reason I don’t use comiXology more often is because I can get most of the content I want through Hoopla (I mostly read Image and Boom comics these days — if you’re primarily a Marvel reader, you won’t be a happy as I am with Hoopla). The app’s guided view for reading comics isn’t quite as good as comiXology, but it’s close. My biggest complaint is that their audiobook player doesn’t allow you to view and jump between chapters – but it’s hard to complain too much about a product that’s completely free. That’s right, Hoopla is a library-connected app, so that means all the content is free.
OverDrive: Maybe you’ve heard our fearless leader, Kenny, talk about OverDrive before on the podcast (seriously, Kenny is the best non-librarian OverDrive advocate I’ve ever seen). OverDrive is pretty much the king of digital content management at public libraries – it has e-books, e-comics, e-audiobooks, e-everything. I use the app primarily for audiobooks. For most of my life, listening to an audiobook meant checking out a box of 20+ CDs at the library, and there was usually one CD missing. Streaming/downloadable audiobooks are SO MUCH BETTER. In my experience, there’s a bit of a learning curve with the OverDrive app, but once you get the hang of it you’re set. Best of all, since this is a library connected app, everything is free!
Litsy: This one’s a bit different. Litsy is a social media platform for people who love books — it’s a little like Instagram, if people only posted about books. It also features the NICEST community of users I’ve ever run across on the internet. Where Goodreads has a reputation for authors and fans occasionally attacking other users for giving books poor ratings and reviews, Litsy is overwhelmingly positive. There’s also a gamification component to Litsy – you gain “Litfluence” when other users like or comment on your posts.
Audible: If I can’t find the audiobook that I want for free on Overdrive or Hoopla, Audible is sure to have it. I don’t have my own Audible account, I just mooch off my boyfriend’s — the app is great for sharing content over multiple devices if you’re willing to share your log-in info. The content on Audible isn’t free; once you sign up for an account (first month free, $14.95/month thereafter) you receive monthly credits that can be used toward purchasing audiobooks. One of my favorite things about the Audible app is that it lets you listen to a fairly long preview of a book before you buy it cause there is nothing worse than an audiobook with a narrator that you can’t stand.
Kindle: There are also apps for Kobo and Nook, but I’m a Kindle user, so that’s what I have on my phone. Honestly, I don’t use this app very frequently – the whole reason I got an e-ink Kindle was to avoid staring at a bright screen while reading. I don’t read eBooks on my phone very often, but I know lots of folks who do – it is inarguably convenient. One of my favorite things about the app is that it’s great at managing content between devices – I can pick up reading my current book on my phone at the exact spot I stopped reading on my Kindle.
So Dragons, what bookish apps do you use? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, find the stories that make you stronger. #WorkOutNerdOut