E-books are a hugely popular format to enjoy reading materials. Thanks to this format, we can use the internet to access books more often and more conveniently. But some people, of course, have avoided the electronic format and stuck with physical copies of their favorite books.
If you’re among the people who have stayed away from e-books, this article will help get you started. You may not yet be aware of all the options you have. Even if you love physical copies of books, there are a lot of positives that come with adding e-books to your personal library.
What are the pros and cons for using e-books?
Before you start looking into which device you want to use and which apps you should get, or before you say you’re just not interested in e-books, here are a few things to consider.
- You can carry a large number of books with you using only one device
- Some devices can read your e-books to you
- You can read at night without a light source
- You can make reading easier with features like text magnification, page color, or night mode
- E-books are often cheaper than physical copies of new books, and some are even free
- Some people miss the feeling of holding a physical book
- Depending on your device, reading e-books for a long time could cause eyestrain (some devices are designed to avoid this)
- You need access to a charger for your device
- If you lose access to the necessary devices, you can’t read your books
Which devices can you use?
Some people are still under the impression that you have to use a device like a Kindle to read e-books. This simply isn’t the case. E-books can be accessed on most devices, though there are some devices that are designed to make reading easier.
E-readers like the Kindle and the NOOK are designed to display like regular ink on paper. However, you may have no issue using other devices for e-reading, particularly if you take breaks during reading.
Specifically, you can access e-books on tablets, phones, and computers, plus some smart speakers. For instance, if you have a device like the Amazon Echo and you have Kindle books, you can ask your Echo to read your e-books out loud. The experience isn’t exactly as enjoyable as listening to an audiobook, of course, but it works.
What apps are available?
If you have an e-reader, you won’t really need to get any additional apps. But if you’re reading on a typical phone or tablet, you’ll want to download an app that improves the e-reading experience. Here are just a few apps you might want to try:
Aldiko Book Reader (available for Android and iOS): With Aldiko, you can read e-books in EPUB or PDF format. You can customize your screen display, add bookmarks, read your own e-books or purchase new ones, use a dictionary, organize your books, and more.
Amazon Kindle (available for Android and iOS): The Amazon Kindle app allows readers to get an experience similar to using a Kindle device. You can shop for e-books in addition to reading the ones you already own. You can also use features like a dictionary, customized display (like font size and page color), highlighting, and of course, bookmarking.
Bookari Free Ebook Reader (available for Android and iOS): This e-reader can read EPUB2 and PDF files. It lets you sync your content across devices, which means you can do things like bookmark a spot using your phone, then see that bookmark on your tablet. You can do things like purchase books, highlight text, and organize books.
Google Play Books (available for Android and iOS): Google’s e-reader has a lot of the typical features and also works well with other Google services. You can do things like buy new books, customize your display, get personalized recommendations, highlight text, and sync some of your information (like highlights and notes) to Google Drive.
Marvin 3 (available for iOS): Marvin 3 is the most recent version of the popular Marvin e-reader app. It’s not only for typical e-books—it also specializes in comic books. It can read EPUB files, as well as CBX and CBR. You can do things like customize your display, highlight, use a reading journal, use a text-to-speech feature, search your books, set a reading timer, and much more.
Moon+ Reader (available for Android): Moon+ Reader is an e-reader with especially pleasing visuals. You can read many different formats with it, including EPUB, PDF, and MOBI. You can also do things like customize your display, use themes, use bookmarks, highlight text, and more.
NOOK (available for Android and iOS): NOOK, from Barnes & Noble, lets you read e-books without actually purchasing a NOOK device. You can buy new books through B&N, customize your display, take notes, highlight text, create additional profiles for family members (including Child Profiles), and more.
Universal Book Reader (available for Android): This e-reader supports many different file formats, including EPUB, PDF, and MOBI. You can customize the display in many ways—this e-reader has a strong focus on visuals. You can bookmark and highlight, and you can also do things like organize your books on your bookshelf, search your books, and more.
Where you can buy e-books?
You can purchase e-books through some of the apps listed above. However, you do have other options if you don’t want to buy through an app. Check out the following apps and websites if you’re looking to buy individual e-books:
- Barnes & Noble or the NOOK app: You can purchase e-books from B&N’s website, or you can buy them directly through the NOOK app if you’re using it.
- BookBub: This website (or app) has many titles available at low prices. E-books are recommended to you, and you can also look through deals or different categories.
- Google Play Books: This app, which is in the list of apps above, has an extensive e-bookstore available.
- Kindle Store or the Amazon Kindle app: You can buy e-books through the Kindle Store from anywhere and have them sent to your Kindle device.
- Kobo or the Kobo app: Kobo has a large collection of e-books for sale in their store. When you sign up, you can even get $5 off your first e-book.
If you’d instead like to try an e-book subscription, you have options. Here are just a couple:
- Amazon Kindle Unlimited: Kindle Unlimited is a service that’s $9.99/mo. and lets readers access as many eligible e-books as they want each month. Many titles on Amazon are part of their Kindle Unlimited service.
- Scribd (on the web, for Android, or for iOS): With Scribd, you pay $8.99/mo. to read unlimited e-books. You can even read magazines and listen to audiobooks. Scribd has a large library of books that includes new and bestselling titles.
There are other websites out there that offer e-book subscriptions, but be careful—some of them may not be reliable or legitimate. Research an e-book subscription service carefully before deciding to use it!
What’s available for free?
You might have noticed that I mentioned some e-books being free. There are actually quite a few legitimate, legal sources for free e-books. You won’t typically be able to own a hugely popular new e-book for free, but you can own other titles, including classics, at no cost to you. You can also borrow e-books for free. Check out some of the following websites for free books:
- Barnes & Noble: B&N’s website also has a free e-books section. You can find books by subject or look at top picks.
- BookBub: As mentioned above, you can purchase cheap books from BookBub. However, there are many free titles, as well.
- Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: If you already have a Prime membership, you can borrow some e-books for free. There are many popular books available among the hundreds of thousands of titles you can borrow.
- Kindle Store: The Kindle Store includes a section with free e-books sorted into different categories. There are classics, romance novels, sci-fi and fantasy e-books, and more.
- Local libraries: Your library might just have free e-books available! Many libraries are part of services like Hoopla and OverDrive, which means if you have a library card, you can likely “borrow” e-books for free. Visit your library’s website to see if this option is available.
- Open Library: This website is part of Internet Archive. You can find any book through their search. Not every book is available for free or even in the e-book format, but when you search, you can select the “Ebooks” option and find many e-books available to read.
- Project Gutenberg: This is perhaps the most well-known website for free e-books. There are tens of thousands of free e-books on the site, including many classics.
You can also often find free books in certain e-reader apps. For instance, Aldiko allows you to purchase books through its app, and it has a “public domain” category with many free books. Of course, some of these apps are offering books that you can also easily find through a website listed above.