Best apps to read books for free in India in 2021

If you are a bookworm, you know it’s not easy to maintain your book library with new titles constantly releasing every now and then. And, it’s even more troublesome to carry the books around while travelling. Kindles are a great alternative to physical books as they have an e-ink display, last for weeks and can be brought about anywhere. But, what if you cannot afford a Kindle? Well, you can use your smartphone, tablet, or laptop as an e-reader too. Here are some of the best apps where you can read books for free:

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What features should an ideal eBook reader app have?

An ideal eBook reader should at least have these five features:

  • Good collection of books: The app should have a decent collection of eBooks, both paid as well as free. The app should also have the option to download and read third-party titles offline.
  • Support for multiple file formats: eBooks come in various formats, be it .EPUB, .MOBI, .CBR, .CBZ, etc. The wider support it has, the better the reading experience.
  • Multi-platform support: The app should have support for all major platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows etc. So that if you want to jump from your phone to your PC, it can be done easily.
  • Reading tools: Additionally, the app should have basic reading tools, such as a built-in dictionary, highlight text, dark mode, etc.
  • User-friendly interface: Last but not the least, the app should be intuitive and easy to use, so that even a kid can enjoy reading.

7 Best apps to freely read books in India

Out of the many apps, we have analyzed and brought to you the 7 best apps that are available for download on your device to read books.

  1. Google Play Books
  2. Amazon Kindle
  3. Apple books
  4. Oodles books
  5. Moon+ reader
  6. Comics by ComiXology
  7. Kobo

1. Google Play Books

Available in: Google Play Store, iOS, iPad, Chrome browser

Pros: Perhaps the most versatile app. Google Play Books supports most of the formats, including EPUB. It supports PDF uploading as well, which means you can directly upload to the app and read books from third-party websites. Additionally, the app allows you to make changes to the text and colour attributes, view the book’s original pages, add a bookmark, and even hear the book read aloud. The Google Play Books also come with dark mode, an offline dictionary, and an option to enlist the volume keys to turn pages. All in all, it is a wonderful app. You can also get free classics right on the app, and during sales, you can pick up many books for free.

Cons: The biggest con of Google Play Books is, once you upload a book, it takes a lot of time to process. Also, there is no support for Amazon books or .MOBI format.

2. Amazon Kindle

Available in: Google Play Store, iOS, iPad, Windows, Mac

Pros: It’s rated to be the best eBook app out there. Much like Google Play Books, the Amazon Kindle app also allows users to customize font, text size, colour, and line spacing. In addition to this, the app lets you mark and annotate text passages, use an X-ray feature to get more details on characters and other elements, and also bookmark your current page. Additionally, if you need the definition of a certain word, simply highlight it to see a dictionary or Wikipedia entry pop up on your screen with its meaning. You can also sync your data with Goodreads. Amazon provides a ton of free books and classics. Apart from this, during sales, you can get eBooks for as low as Rs 49. 

Cons: That said, the app has a few shortcomings. Firstly, the Amazon Kindle app is entirely tied up with the Amazon store, which means you have to be logged in to your Amazon account all the time. Secondly, the eBook reader app does not allow you to directly upload third-party books. There are some workarounds, but they are a little tricky to use and don’t offer support for cloud sync. All the books from third-party websites will stay locally on your device.

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3. Apple Books

Available in: iOS, iPadOS

Pros: It is a built-in reader for eBooks and audiobooks for Apple devices. You can download the books within the bookstore as well as upload your own eBooks and PDFs to the app. Besides that, the Apple Books comes with the option to adjust font type and size, theme, and brightness, as well as bookmark pages, annotate text and make notes. You can turn on the scrolling view to scroll down to read the book instead of swiping left from the app’s settings. Pressing down on a word gives you the option to copy it, look for its meaning, highlight, make a note of it, search for it through the book, or share it with someone else. The Apple Books also has a search feature that takes you to a specific word or page number. Apple does provide free classics, and occasionally, surprises readers with free books.

Cons: The biggest downside of Apple books is that its limited availability. The app is only available in the app store for iOS, iPadOS and the recent M1 series Macs. Also, there are fewer features compared to full-fledged readers like the Amazon Kindle.

4. Oodles Books

Available in: Google Play Store, iOS, iPad

Pros: Oodles books is another excellent app for reading books. It offers a range of eBooks as well as audiobooks for free. You can also import and read your books on the app. Other features of Oodles Books include bookmarks, dictionaries, and the ability to share a particular text, as well as change the font size, dark theme, and simple navigation. The app is ad-supported; however, you can get rid of them with a premium account, which costs Rs 300 a year. 

Cons: The disadvantages of this app include ads, which could easily annoy an avid reader. Also,  the user interface is pretty outdated. It looks like you are using this app on a 5-year-old phone.

5. Moon+ Reader

Available in: Google Play Store

Pros: Moon+ Reader is a unique app in terms of its design. It has a scrolling feature like a web page for navigation. The app also has an auto-scrolling feature so you can read hands-free. In addition to this, there are tons of customization options such as 10+ themes support, a Real page turning effect with adjustable speed/colour/transparency, 5-page flip animations, and much more. The Moon+ Reader supports sync and has over 60,000 eBooks from Project Gutenberg available for free. The app is also localised in 42 languages, giving access to a wider range of audiences. All the basic functions such as Highlight, Annotation, Dictionary (Offline or Online, support Google), Translation, and Share are available.

Cons: As for the disadvantages, the app’s availability. The Moon+ Reader is only available on Android mobile phones. Other than that, the UI could be slightly confusing for new users at times. There also isn’t wide support for EPUB 3, which supports both audio and video. Not to mention that the PDF reader is only available on the pro version, which is disappointing.

6. Comics by ComiXology

Available in: Google Play Store, iOS, iPad, Kindle Fire devices

Pros: If you are a fan of comics, then Comics by ComiXology is the stop for you. The app has many free comics for you to read and a smart lists feature that automatically sorts your collection by purchase. It also recommends new comics based on your reading history. The Comics by ComiXology also has a built-in guided view that scrolls automatically and scales the comic according to the length of the page. Some other features of the app include a vast collection of manga, graphic novels, and digital comics from publishers like Marvel, Image, and DC. Additionally, while reading, you can use the app’s features like brightness control, zoom, reading modes, and direction, to enhance your overall experience. The app supports .cbz and .cbr files as well, which you can download directly from the store if it is DRM-free. 

Cons: The cons of Comics by ComiXology are slightly peculiar. You can’t let friends borrow issues in your library, and you can’t purchase comics directly from the iOS app.

7. Kobo

Available in: Google Play Store, iOS, iPad, Windows, Mac

Pros: This app lets you read books downloaded from the Kobo store as well as imported from your device, in PDFs or EPUBs format. This app provides many books for free and you get good ones during sales at a very low price. Regarding the app’s features, tap the screen, and a series of icons appear on the lower right. From here, you can play with the font style and size, layout, and theme. You can also opt to use the volume keys to turn each page and tweak the page transition. Highlighting a word retrieves its definition or allows you to annotate it. You can also bookmark a page and view a list of chapter headings and other details.

Cons: There aren’t many disadvantages to this app. It’s mostly good; however, The UI could benefit from a little polish. There are some noticeable lags in the app and the book library is a bit limited.