The Apps You Need To Actually Buy, Read, & Review Books On Your Phone

by Alex Weiss
Originally Published: 
A woman uses her smartphone at a coffee shop.

It can be incredibly difficult to keep up with all the new books being released all the time — but these book apps certainly make it a lot easier. Even though I'll always be a traditional hardcover book-lover, I do read books on my e-reader and listen to audiobooks from time to time on my phone. In my mind, it seems that real books will never go out of style, but that doesn't mean I can't keep up with technology that makes it easier and more convenient to read.

My phone is full of downloaded e-books and audiobooks, and I have my ever-growing TBR list jotted down in multiple places. Not to mention, I've taken screenshots of so many pictures of books that I just find pretty (don't judge me for judging a book by its cover, OK?). Needless to say, my phone has become my go-to resource for finding — and reading — new books.

If you're looking for new ways you can show your love for books, review them online, keep track of what you read, share photos of your bookshelf with friends, and, of course, discover new books to read, take a moment to consider these literary apps:


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Let's get this out of the way: You already know what Goodreads is, but how does the app measure up? Despite its outdated interface, the Goodreads app actually functions fairly well for all the tasks you would typically complete on your desktop: Adding books to your "Want To Read" shelf, reviewing and rating books you've already read, and seeing what your friends have recently finished. The app, unlike the desktop version, allows you to scan the barcodes/ISBNs of books to add them to your library, which might save you time if you're cataloging more than one book at once. Learn more.


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If you want to privately catalog your books without the social media aspect of Goodreads, try Libib. You can either manually insert all the information (which is a pain, since you also have to manually upload cover photos) or scan the barcode/ISBN, which automatically pulls in all information and photos. Libib offers very few bells-and-whistles, but I preferred its scanning functionality to the other book apps I tried. You also have the option of making your library public, if you do want to share what you're reading with your friends. Learn more.


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We don't talk often enough about the library is a place where you can get free books as often as you want. With Libby, borrowing is made easy — and you can read e-books from the library without actually having to leave your couch. You sign up, type in your library card information, and pick your library of choice. You can also download e-books and audiobooks for offline reading, send the books you borrow to your Kindle (if you prefer to read it on that platform), and sign up with multiple library cards. Learn more.

Serial Box

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If you adore podcasts and books, Serial Box is a must-have. Week after week, new "episodes" of books are released, and you have the option to listen or read (or do both). Just like your favorite TV shows, each season contains 10-16 episodes, and each can be read or be read to you in about 40 minutes. Some of the serials are originals (like the continuation of Orphan Black, available as an ebook or an audiobook narrated by Tatiana Maslany) and others are classic books, released episodically. Learn more.


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Scribd is simply one of the best book apps on the market. While it does come with a monthly price tag (though it is less than one paperback book), the cost is well worth it if you're an avid e-reader and audiobook lover. Basically, it's a subscription service that allows you unlimited access to their selection of e-books, audiobooks, and magazines, for the cost of $8.99 per month. (You get one month free when you sign up.) Of course, not every book or audiobook is available, but if you read just one a month, you're probably saving yourself a few bucks. Learn more.


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Whether you've been introduced to the growing world of self-publishing or not, Wattpad is here to show you the way. It's a community of writers and readers, and a place to share thoughts, read something new, or take a crack at writing something yourself. Remember, some of the best authors working today got their start writing fanfiction, and there's no reason you can't flex some of your creative muscles, too. Learn more.


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I'm a big fan of Audible, and when I found Downpour, an app that takes your audiobook experience to new levels, I was stoked. You can set sleep timers (this was super helpful for me since I usually listen to books when I'm too tired to read), and it allows you to bookmark certain spots that you loved or wanted to go back to at some point. You can purchase books individually, or purchase a monthly subscription for $12.99, which includes one credit per month. Learn more.


Courtesy of Libro.Fm

Libro.Fm allows you to purchase audiobooks directly from independent booksellers. (You have the option to support "all bookstores" or support a specific bookstore of your choosing.) You can purchase audiobooks individually or purchase a $14.99 per month membership that allots you one audiobook per month. (The first month is free, and there are options for three month, six month, and 12 month memberships.) Plus, you're supporting small business! It's a win-win.

Unfortunately, you can't sign up for the service within the app, nor can you actually purchase any audiobooks with it. The only thing you can do on the Libro.Fm app is listen to books you've already purchased on your desktop. It's definitely annoying, and I hope they upgrade the app in the near-future. That being said, this is still a service worth supporting. Learn more.


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The interface of Gutenberg isn't as sleek as the interface for the Kindle app or Apple Books, but it does have one advantage: Everything is free, because all the books are in the public domain. I keep it on my phone for days when I need a pick-me-up in the form of a Jane Austen re-read. Learn more.

Additional reporting by Cristina Arreola.

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