Avid readers don’t like to be away from their books, whether it be the commute to work or a quick coffee break in the afternoon. Similarly, news addicts need the constant stream of updates about anything and everything happening around the world. Not to forget those who rely on the depths of the World Wide Web for high-quality, long-form stories. Chances are, you already carry a smartphone, even if you don’t carry a tablet or an iPad, so here are some awesome reading apps that you should try.
Free (optional in-app, or additional features, purchases)
Android, iOS, Web (Blinkist.com)
If non-fiction books are your thing, this is a very interesting app to have. It offers more than 1,500 books at present. The books have been repackaged for a quick read—each chapter in a book has been condensed to around 250 words, making it easier to grasp while on a tight schedule.
The books are categorized according to genres such as biography and history, productivity and time management, health and fitness, and entrepreneurship and small business. The free subscription plan allows you to read one free book, from any genre or section, per day. The Blinkist Plus subscription ($49.99, or around Rs.3,325, a year) allows access to all the books and highlights some important snippets from each book, while the Blinkist Premium ($79.99 a year) allows access to audiobooks as well, letting you sync book highlights with Evernote and send book lists to your Kindle.
Free (optional in-app purchases)
Android, iOS, Windows (website: Bookmate.com)
This e-book subscription service currently offers 650,000 books, and more are being added regularly. The library is categorized well, and there are curated lists too. Just as a lot of streaming music services allow you to follow a particular playlist and get notified when new music is added, Bookmate lets you follow themed bookshelves (like Vintage Sci-Fi and Brain Feed For The Dumbasses, for example). Viewing customization features include font size, page colour, etc, which makes the reading session comfortable. The Standard ($4.99 per month) subscription allows access to all books except some new additions and certain best-sellers, for which you will need the Premium ($8.99 per month) subscription. The Premium subscription also allows access to books in languages other than English.
Free ($5 per month for member subscription)
As the name suggests, this is a platform which curates and compiles some of the best long-form articles from various sources on the Internet, across genres. And at first glance itself, you will be impressed by the variety of content available. For example, you will read wide-ranging articles on any given day, such as “The Perilous Future Of Space Art”, “How I Rewired My Brain To Become Fluent In Math” and “The Golden Age Of Squatting”. While the free subscription itself offers an enormous amount of high-quality reading content, the member subscription allows you to read some exclusives as well.
Android, iOS, Web (Tenreads.io/)
The term information overload was analysed by futurist Alvin Toffler in his best-selling book Future Shock. And it is a genuine problem in our times, given the deluge of potentially incorrect facts, or the chances of getting the same piece of information on multiple websites or online sources. This is where an app such as Tenreads becomes relevant. Their idea is to curate the 10 best write-ups of the day, from a wide range of websites, and present them in one app. The stories are categorized into entertainment, sports, technology, for example. It is a mix of news, analysis and features, with occasional, in-depth write-ups.
Android, iOS, Web (Reado.com/)
This is not exactly an app where one subscription gets you access to a library of books. Reado is more of a store where you can buy audiobooks. A cursory glance through the available titles shows that the cost ranges from Rs.99, Rs.199 and Rs.299 to Rs.1,299. For example, Ashlee Vance’s book on Elon Musk, narrated by Fred Sanders—duration 803 minutes— costs Rs.199. Jay Sekulow’s Unholy Alliance is priced at Rs.1,299. Audiobooks are actually a great way for people who don’t always find the time to sit and read, to catch up with the latest titles—just plug in your earphones, and the words can stream into your ears while you continue to finish other tasks.