Every book lover, sooner or later, decides to switch, to newer formats of reading that go beyond the centuries-old bound physical book format. It’s a different matter that many of these ‘switchers’ come back to physical books, after flirting with digital formats, but then that’s something that’s best left for another day.
If you are a book lover, and you are hooked to your smartphone, what are some digital screen book reading options? Before we begin discussing these digital options for book lovers, let’s get the eligibility criteria in place-
- The apps need to be about books, not articles, not magazines & journals (there go The New Yorker, Brainpicker and many more)
- This list is not about bookmarking services (Sorry to leave you there Pocket)
- The apps need to have book buying option in India using payment options for Indians (bye bye Nook)
The list of apps that a book lover will love is curated by me, basis what I think the reader will enjoy. There is 100% subjectivity in this list and it is not a reflection of popularity (or lack of it) for the suggested apps.
- Goodreads: The Goodreads app does exactly what the website does, and does it very well. Discovering and discussing books is a breeze on the app. The bar scanner feature on the app allows to scan the bar code on the book and all details of the book show up on the app. The Recommendations feature shows up books basis your history, in an interesting flip-through mode.
- Blinkist: Blinkist helps you read books when you feel “so much to read, and so little time”. Blinkist focuses exclusively on non-fiction and converts these books into summaries that are broken down into ‘blinks’ or knowledge nuggets. The free service gets you access to one pre-determined book every day, and then you can sign up for their paid plans. (Full disclosure: I am currently bootstrapping a service called Bookbhook, that is kind of similar to what Blinkist offers).
- Juggernaut: Juggernaut came about when one of the biggest names in Indian publishing space, Chiki Sarkar, decided to build a service that provides original content (books) that can be read while you are waiting at the bank, at your kid’s school (what did Junior do this time). With over 1500 books from some of the best (and new) writers in India, Juggernaut has a formidable (and growing) library of original content.
- Wattpad: Wattpad is another original content publisher that is aiming to get youngsters read more. If you are above 30, you may find the ‘serialising of a book’ concept slightly disconcerting, but then possibly that’s what the youngsters are looking for. If you get social reading enabler Goodreads to mate with original content provider juggernaut, you will possibly end up with Wattpad. By the way, there is a Wattpad like service in Indian vernacular language called Matrubharti. Focusses primarily on Hindi & Gujarati, with a sprinkling of Bangla as well. The ads in Matrubharti are a turn-off, but then they have a premium ad-free version of their app as well
- Audible: Audible app gets you the audio versions of books as well as original audio content. So is listening to audio books equivalent to reading them? I guess there is no definitive answer to that. I am not a music person so I do listen to audio books during my morning run. And Audible, while expensive in terms of audio books, does a fantastic job of making listening to books a real pleasure. Audible also features a lot of free content in terms of series and podcasts as well
Ahem, so where is Kindle in this list of Top 5 apps for book lovers? It’s simple – Kindle has been featured in such lists since 2008. It’s high time we acknowledge the ubiquitous presence of Kindle in a book lover’s life, and take it out of such lists, just so that interesting apps like Matrubharti & Juggernaut find their way in for the new generation of book lovers.