Best free iPad apps for reading books

Best apps for reading books feature

The iPad is a great device for reading books. You can store thousands of them on a device as thin as a pencil and view any of your books, at any time, on its beautiful display.

There are also many iOS apps in the App Store to help you discover, download and read books on the iPad — and the great news is many of them are free. With so many apps to choose from, each offering different features and a different catalogue of books, it can be hard to know which are the best.

Here are some of the very best free apps for reading books on your iPad…


iBooks screens

Apple’s own iBooks app is a good place to start in terms of reading on the iPad. You can buy any of the many thousands of books on offer in the integrated iBooks store, peruse the top free and paid book charts, and store all downloaded books in the app’s bookshelf. Things like font, page color and screen brightness are all adjustable and the app has support for note-taking, bookmarking and in-book search. What’s really great about iBooks is that everything is kept in sync with iCloud so your books on your iPad, iPhone and Mac will be the same everywehre, even down to the current page. iBooks also supports open standards like ePub and PDF.

Free — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)

Marvin (Free Edition)

Marvin screens

Marvin is a modern and clean looking iOS app for reading DRM-free eBooks. The app is packed with customization options, with changeable brightness, text and background color, page texture and layout choices. There’s also full book search, gesture customization, highlighting and annotation tools, reading timer functionality, as well as a ton of ways to organize and sort your content. If you’re an eBook power user, then Marvin is for you. The free edition of the app allows you to view only one book at a time, with the paid version removing this restriction.

Marvin (Free Edition) — Free — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)

Marvin — $2.99/£1.99 — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)


Kobo screens

Kobo is famous for its e-readering devices but it also provides an iOS app that has access to the 3.5 million titles in the Kobo Store with first chapter previews for many books. In the app, you can customize your reading experience with adjustable font size and style and Night Mode for reading in darker conditions. Kobo also has sync functionality with support for bookmarks, notes and highlights so you can pick up where you left off on any of your iOS devices. Kobo Pulse provides a community of readers who discuss what they’ve read which can be a great place to find out about news titles.

Free — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)


Kindle screens

If you’re into books, you’ve no doubt heard of Amazon’s Kindle devices. But the e-commerce giant also has a huge book store that is available through the Kindle iOS app including over a million books, with free samples available, as well as hundreds of magazines and newspapers. You can customize your reading experience by choosing margin size, line spacing, background color, font size, font style, and either portrait or landscape mode and tap and hold text to quickly highlight important sections, easily edit or change highlight colors, and select long passages that span multiple pages. Amazon’s Whispersync technology keeps your last page read, bookmarks, notes and highlights in sync across devices. If you have devices that run on different operating systems, Kindle is a good choice as it’s available pretty much everywhere (even on the web).

Free — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)


Audible screens

Some people like to listen to audiobooks instead of reading and Audible is far and away the best service for doing so. With a range of over 100,000 audiobooks, many read by the author or by professional actors, you’ll be sure to find that book you want to read but never seem to have time to and instead you can listen to it on the go. There’s support for chapter navigation, bookmarking, sleep mode, variable narration speed, button-free mode in the iOS app, as well as multitasking support for background downloading and listening so you can use your iPad for other tasks while listening. If you want to listen to your books instead of read them, Audible is for you.

Free (requires Audible subscription) — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)

Google Play Books

Google Play Books screens

The Google Play Books iOS app may seem a little neglected, and visually it certainly isn’t anything to shout about, but it provides easy access to the millions of titles on Google Play. It has much of the functionality you’d expect, like customization, night time reading, free previews, offline reading and more but the main benefit of using the app is if you also use Android devices where you can continue to use the service and keep your book collection in sync.

Free — Download now for iPad (and iPhone)

Your favorites?

What are your favorite apps for reading books on your iOS devices? Any that you use often and would see featured here in this list? Let us know in the comments or grab me on Twitter: @TiP_AdamO.

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  • frankdjr

    What about Nook??

    • Adam Oram

      Yes, Nook is also good. Lots of free titles.