For the productivity addicts among us, there’s nothing more frustrating than finding yourself caught on a stalled subway or idling in rush hour traffic on your way to or from work, sans reading material.
There’s something about reading in the pre-desk hours that gets you in the right headspace for the day ahead, no matter if it’s a novel, memoir, or blog post you’re digging into. Not only that, using your travel time to read is an awesome way to burn through that Goodreads queue. I read more than 100 books last year mostly by making use of idle travel time.
As far as tools of the trade are concerned, of course you know there’s Kindle; but if you want to try out a new app for your reading material, the options below have a lot to offer. Go ahead and judge these e-reading apps by their covers; they won’t disappoint.
This e-reading app is said by digital publishing authority Shelfless.org to have “obliterated the competition.” Not only does Marvin boast a pleasingly clean and modern design, plus easy-to-use annotation and highlight tools in a range of colors and fonts, it also helps you learn and discover more about whatever you’re reading. Ever wished you could go back and see when a character in a novel was first introduced? Or what about get a quick summary for a book you read a few years back and can only dimly recall? You’re now in luck. Marvin also integrates with a plethora of other web services—DropBox, IMDb, Google Maps, Evernote, Tweetbot, Wikipedia—so you can get the ultimate bang for your book buck.
Talk about a reading app tailor-made for your commute. For $4.99 a month, Rooster delivers short, satisfying book installments that take an average of 15 minutes to read but build into two book-length works a month, one contemporary, and one classic. The hand-picked works, selected by Rooster’s team of bibliophiles, are readable right in the lovely Rooster app. You can adjust the frequency and schedule of your installments for maximal accessibility.
3. Next Issue
iOS, Android, Windows
If you’re a major magazine junkie like I am, check out Next Issue, a joint venture formed by six top publishers—Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications, and Time Inc.—to offer tricked-out digital magazine subscriptions in one convenient monthly package. Get access to each of these publishers’ entire catalogue of magazines (yup, even back issues) for $9.99 per month, or $14.99 per month for the same plus access to weeklies like The New Yorker, People, Time and more.
If you like your e-reading with a side of socializing, you’ll like digital book club app Librify. For $6.99 per month, you get one book (to keep) from Librify’s hand picked Monthly Membership List of 100 bestsellers, book club favorites, and emerging authors, plus discounts on the full catalogue of one million titles. Best of all? When you invite friends to read a book along with you, you can see their highlights, reading progress, and comments right in the app.
iOS, Android, Kindle, Desktop
This is one of those that you probably already know about, but if you don’t, I’m about to change your life. Where would I be without Pocket? Waist-deep in my to-read queue, that’s where. This amazing (free) app lets you save articles from any site to read later, online or offline (i.e., underground during your daily back-and-forth to work). Whenever you come across an interesting article you don’t have time to read that minute, click Pocket’s browser extension or head straight to getpocket.com or the Pocket app to add it to your list. Et voilà!
iOS, Android, Kindle, desktop
About a year ago, I remember thinking to myself, “Why doesn’t someone invent a Netflix for books?” Happily, we now live in a world where such a wonder exists. Oyster charges you just $9.95 per month to “stream” unlimited books, from New York Times bestsellers to kid lit. You can pre-browse Oyster’s selection of 500,000 titles if you want to ensure your favorites are featured before you buy.
Oyster competitor Scribd operates under the same principle—unlimited digital reading for a flat monthly rate. Scribd costs $8.99 per month and offers the same size library as Oyster (500,000). Your preference between the two apps will depend on publishers whose works you tend to most enjoy; for example, Oyster has books from McSweeney’s, Rodale, and Simon and Schuster, while Scribd offers Lonely Planet guides and reference books from Wiley.
iOS, Android, Kindle, Desktop
If you’d rather own than rent, this app lets you choose any two books from a popular library of 200,000 for a total of $9.99 per month. Once you download an e-book, you can read it in the native Entitle app, on your computer, your Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, and more. If you use the Entitle app itself, you’ll enjoy the optional night mode, customizable font, adjustable text size, and other bookworm-friendly features.
iOS, Android, Windows, Kindle, Desktop
Not for nothing did Amazon purchase audiobook treasure trove Audible back in 2008. With the free app, you can listen to any of a selection of 150,000+ titles on-the-go, making your commute race by in record time. For $14.95 per month, you get one free audiobook and 30% off others. Worried you’ll find the narrator’s voice annoying or have trouble getting into that doorstop of a novel? You can exchange any book you’re not into at any time, free of charge.