10 Best iOS Reading Apps for iPads and iPhones


Kindle iOS App

The iPad and iPhone are very popular devices that have become common go-to options for reading ebooks, especially on the go.

There are far more iPads and iPhones in the world than there are dedicated ebook readers like the Kindle, so for this post let’s do a roundup of the best reading apps for iOS devices.

Apple of course has their own iBooks reading app, but I always caution people about buying from iBooks because the ebooks are permanently locked into Apple’s ecosystem for good and can never be read on any other devices.

You can buy the exact same ebooks from Amazon, Kobo, or Google and read them on a multitude of devices, not just one platform and brand.

Buying ebooks from other ebook stores on an iOS device is a little more of a hassle because you have to use the web browser instead of the app (otherwise they have to pay Apple 30% of each sale) but that’s a minor inconvenience to avoid having your ebooks locked into one brand forever.

To make things easier, this list of best iOS reading apps is broken down into a few different categories.

Main eBook Store Apps

Kindle – The Kindle app is the most popular reading app for iOS. It has a bunch of integrated features, including Whispersync for Voice to read audiobooks aloud, and Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s ebook subscription service. You can add PDFs and DRM-free ebooks and documents to the app with Send to Kindle.

Google Play Books – Another big name for ebooks, Google’s reading app is available on iOS devices. The app also supports uploading your own ePub and PDF files to the app as long as they are DRM-free.

Kobo Reading App – Another popular option for ebooks is Kobo. They have a large library to choose from, including magazines. The nice thing about Kobo is they have their various reading apps for different platforms, plus dedicated ebook readers like the Kobo Aura One, and their ebooks can be downloaded in Adobe ePub format to read with other apps and other brands of devices as well, so there are plenty of options for reading.

Nook – Barnes and Noble’s Nook app for iOS is quite nice but you’re better off avoiding it with the way B&N runs their ebook business. Like Apple, they’ve made it so you can’t download your purchased ebooks outside of the app, so unless you want your ebooks locked into B&N for good then buy from somewhere else.

Best 3rd Party Reading Apps

Marvin 3 – This app supports DRM-free ePub ebooks as well as CBX and CBR comics. Marvin might have the most features of any reading app on iOS. The list just goes on and on. There’s also Marvin Classic for older devices.

Bookari – Formally known as Mantano, Bookari is another popular reading app for iOS that’s not limited to one store. It supports ePub and PDF files, including books with Adobe DRM. The app sells for $4.99.

Aldiko Book Reader – Formally an Android exclusive app, Aldiko is now available on iOS as well. The app supports ePub and PDF, including books with Adobe DRM, and it works with ebooks from public libraries.

Scribd – This app provides access to Scribd’s library of ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines for a monthly subscription fee.

Apps for Library eBooks

OverDrive – The OverDrive app lets you borrow ebooks, audiobooks, and videos from public libraries for free. All you need is a library card.

Hoopla Digital – Another option for library ebooks is Hoopla. They offer movies, music, and audiobooks as well with a library card.

19 Responses to “10 Best iOS Reading Apps for iPads and iPhones”

  1. You should take a look at Hypen too — I’ve been using it for a while and it’s wonderful. I can pull down books from my COPs server/sftp, and the highlight export is fantastic.

  2. Love your website! Guessing its a hobby/interest page, been checking in every now and then, will continue to do so. Keep up the good work!

  3. Well if you are going to make the comment about using the Nook app but not being able to use the books you get from B&N you should make the same comment about Amazon. Their books arent even ePubs that can be used anywhere else; they are as proprietary as they come…

    • Yes, but unlike the Nook they can be downloaded elsewhere so you can remove the DRM and convert it to whatever format you want. The fact that Nook books are ePub means nothing since B&N made it so customers can’t download them anywhere and they’re always locked in the Nook app.

  4. Understood, but the article is about e best reading apps. Your commentary sounds biased towards Kindle in that case, when the Nook app does everything the Kindle app does except the voice feature.

    • I’m not biased toward Kindle. I’m biased against Nook after the way B&N has treated their customers over the years. What happens in a year or two when they decide to give up on Nook because the business does nothing but lose money? Without a way to download Nook books for backup that’s a huge problem. Plus the Kindle app does have way more features than the Nook app. B&N hasn’t added any new features to their ereaders or apps in like 5 years–that just goes to show how dedicated they are to the Nook business.

  5. To add to what I was saying, the vast majority of Kindle and Kindle app users do not use outside software to convert formats and such for other use, thats users like you and me, so they are every bit as locked into Amazon as a Nook user….. That’s more my point.

  6. Also, at least regarding the Kindle iOs app, it definitely does not have way more features than the Nook app, in fact it has less. The only thing it has Nook doesn’t is the voice feature. On Nook I can read my messages, read the daily snippets, etc etc, which the Kindle app only allows me to browse the store, my collection, and turn on the voice.

    If you mean more fonts, etc. that’s possible, but those are not extra features. I agree fully that the download feature is obviously an issue except for guys like us who can use outside software to get our content, but again, for the vast majority of Kindle/Kindle app users there is also no difference in that regard… I can side load/download content to either app without issue.

    • I haven’t used the Kindle iOS app since I ditched the iPad so I may be wrong but I can remember there being way more features, like being able to view nine pages at once to quick scan, X-Ray to look up characters and terms, translations and Wikipedia reference, there’s family library sharing, you can create flashcards for textbooks, and all notes and highlights are exportable. The Kindle app can also have PDFs and personal documents and ebooks sent to it wirelessly, as well as library ebooks from public libraries. I don’t recall the Nook app having any kind of advanced features like that.

      On a lighter note, you’re the first person to leave a comment on this blog in like 5 years that’s been pro-Nook. 😀

      Most comments are from people that are ticked off because they can no longer download their purchased ebooks anymore, or how B&N suddenly discontinued their desktop apps and cloud reader without any warning or explanation.

  7. Their desktop is gone unfortunately but you can still read your books from a web browser if that’s something you like

  8. I have some questions. Where do I start? Well, I prefer talking to someone rather than this format. However, I am getting a little desperate to figure this out. Haha, kind of. My 11 year old grandson is visually impaired. He reads Braille in school. He loves technology and that is not an understatement! He is able to go on utube to learn many things to figure things out on his different tech devices and how to play games. I am looking for a tablet or an ereader that he can use to take a short break from his Braille reading to read the same thing in print. Just to change things up a bit, maybe, hopefully make his reading a little more fun for him. I have to have something that the text can be enlarged only not too large. I was given a nook GlowLightPlus. He said that the print looked dull. I think that the print was not dark enough. I also did not think the print enlargement was very good. It had too big of a jump between something a little larger than normal and the next level up. The print and screen was not sharp , bright and clear. I have been reading your reviews and I am wondering- along with a lot of other wonderings I have- are all E Ink ebook readers gray looking in their text? Do any of them have the ability to become a lot darker and sharper in the contrast? I did like your review on the Kindle Paperwhite 3. I had heard that you have to pay $10.00 a month to purchase ebooks. That I do not want because I am pretty sure we will not be getting that many books, maybe just a few books a year. Maybe, maybe not. Also. I have thought about getting a 7inch tablet that would be great for reading ebooks and also have the ability to go online to do research instead of an ereader only device. We like to listen to books on cd with real voices, I do not think I would like to listen to books that are computer generated. Although, he might like it just to change things up. A 7 inch or smaller screen would be best because he has to hold it up close to his right eye to see the screen. I do apologize for the length of this email. Talking is way better. I hope you can offer some of your advice to this not tech savvy person- me. Thank you! Please help.

    • E Ink screens do have more of a gray, off-white color than paper. That’s where frontlights come in handy because they make the screen look whiter and brighter. You don’t pay anything monthly for Kindles unless you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s ebooks subscription service. The Paperwhite has the exact same screen as the Nook so it’s not going to be any different, although Kindle’s fonts are better and more optimized for larger sizes. If you’re going with a tablet I would think a larger 10-inch model would be better than a 7-inch tablet because the text size can get a lot larger.

  9. Just loved the app suggestions. I have been following your blog from last few months. Kindle is my favourite app to read ebooks. I will definitely try remaining apps too. Thanks for sharing.

  10. i am visiting your blog from last few months i was not aware of these reading apps i was only knowing about the kindle but know thanks for showing these option too I am gonna try these soon

  11. Thanks for all the info, I was wondering if you know of an iOS ebook app that supports doc files, because of my job I have to read a lot of documents but I don’t want to convert every one to ebook so I can read it, besides kindle (that makes a little difficult to manage the files) do you know if something like that exists?

    • I don’t know, never used doc files much with iOS but the Microsoft Word and Google Docs apps are where I’d start.

    • Luna, I’m pretty sure GoodReader can do what you want. It can open many types of files and even open them from a zip file. They currently have version 4 in the App Store and are working on version 5 which they promise will have a lot of new features even though the current version is very feature rich.

  12. I’m done with Marvin 3. Marvin classic was amazing but I’ve been telling Appstafarian to fix the page loading problem for a year now. Basically, switching from landscape to portrait (or vice-versa) you can be 10 pages away from where you left off. Check the App Store – others have been ticked off also.

    Now the classic version won’t update one’s location through Dropbox like it used to perhaps forcing people to buy the new version.

    This seems Very convenient for a developer who wants people to purchase his new app. Sketchy at best.

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