Best Reading Apps and Services

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Okay, okay, by now we all know we’re stuck at home, so let’s talk about books.*

I LOVE TO READ! In the past, I’ve stuck to paper books and the popular subscription services like Kindle Unlimited and Audible for audiobooks, BUT I’m trying to cut back on those pricier options this year, and have found some alternative services that provide ebooks, physical books, and audiobooks.

First up is LIBBY.

Libby had been on my radar for a while as the place where I could maybe get free library books…but then a couple of my siblings sat me down and told me that HELLO, IT IS FULL OF FREE BOOKS. Libby–and its parent Overdrive–work through your local library. It’s simple to input your library card info and start reserving ebooks, audiobooks, cookbooks, and more from your local library.

Because I split my time between Texas and New York, I actually have two different libraries in my account, and if the selection at one of them doesn’t have what I’m looking for, the other might. Interestingly, the library from my small town in upstate NY allows me to have 15 holds for books, but the Dallas system only allows me to have 5.

There are a couple of small drawbacks to using Libby. Just like when you physically go to the library, your local branch might not have exactly what you’re looking for. It isn’t Amazon, where you can type a title in and start reading right away. Instead, you can browse what’s available, place a hold, or contact your library to request that they get certain titles. Popular books will have months of wait-time attached to them (again, just like with real library books). That being said–once you’re aware of that limitation, you can find some really great books serendipitously, and since they’re all FREE, there’s no pressure about trying new authors or genres. I have found three or four series of books that I have LOVED so far this year, and I had never heard of them before. The only other con is that the interface is a bit irritating, but once you figure it out, it’s useable. On the whole–an EXCELLENT AND FREE way to score some books!

Next up: BOOKBUB & CHRIP

BookBub is an ebook website that features insane bargains and sales. They also can send out personalized recommendations to your email address that alerts you when a favorite author or genre has a new and on-sale release.

Chirp is the audiobook branch of BookBub, and has a similar service. Basically, if you are going to buy a book, double check BookBub and Chrip before you do so. I’ve gotten very popular audiobooks for as low as $1.99 on Chirp, and then they’re mine to keep!

My only complaint is that I have to use an additional app to listen to my audiobooks. Same with Libby. That means that I juggle my audiobooks between the Audible app, the Libby app, and the Chirp app. Maybe there’s a way to send all audiobooks to the same place? Let me know if you know!

SCRIBD

Scribd is a subscription service that costs $10 a month and has unlimited audio, ebooks, sheet music, magazines, and more. Disclaimer: I haven’t used Scribd yet, but a friend of mine uses and loves it (you can follow this link to check out Emily’s review on her blog which is chock-full of interesting info, pretty graphics, and great content.) But after reading about it and hearing Emily talk about it, I might have just talked myself into another subscription service.

THRIFTBOOKS

If physical books are more your thing, check out Thrift Books, which is a service my sister-in-law turned me on to. They have a fantastic, inexpensive collection of high-quality used books. You can also search for rare or hard-to-find books and when one becomes available, they’ll let you know!

If you love to read or are looking for some ways to entertain yourself during this lockdown we’re all in, I hope these are useful links for you! If you have any other service you use to access books, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!!

Stay tuned for my next post about reading where I give some recaps of what I’ve read so far this year and share some recommendations.

*READERS OF THE FUTURE: this post is from that crazy time in early 2020 when the entire world seemed to grind to a halt and none of us were really sure what was happening. I’m sure things are better where you are. In the future. Maybe? Okay, let’s just get back to reading fiction.

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