Monday 2 November 2020

5 Free Offbeat Apps for Book Lovers

Amanda Kennedy


If you Google "Apps for Book Lovers" or read through the many list articles on the subject, you'll quickly notice the same apps mentioned again and again. 

While Goodreads, Libby, Amazon Kindle, Blinkist, Serial Reader et al. are all incredibly useful, much used and highly rated, most book lovers already have these apps installed. With this in mind, I wanted to create a list of the more unusual apps which might appeal to lovers of literature: some of which I use myself on a regular basis, and a couple which I've discovered while researching for this article.

These apps may not directly apply to books in the strictest sense: rather, I feel they will appeal to book lovers, or include interesting features you may not have previously considered. Best of all, all of these apps are completely free! I hope you will enjoy using some of the apps mentioned in this article, and would be very grateful if you could recommend any other apps that book lovers may also enjoy.

Sealed Book Project: Praeldeum and Codex

The best way to describe the Sealed Book Project apps is that they are (digital) book-based mystery games. To progress through the story, you will need to solve in-app riddles using clues from the text (and a little real-world sleuthing). 

Here's the publisher's description:

If you enjoy thrilling stories filled with riddles, codes, unknown symbols, ancient languages, conspiracy theories, and many other exotic secrets and mysteries, SEALED BOOK PROJECT is created just for you.

Vol. 1 PRAELUDIUM is the first multilingual adventure puzzle book-game of the series of interactive CHALLENGE BOOKS suitable for people of all ages who love the excitement of reading Mystery / Thriller / Suspense / Adventure novels.

The BOOK for readers, who love CHALLENGES!

I've played both Praeldeum and Codex (Volume 2) of this series and thoroughly enjoyed both! The team are now developing Exitus: the third and final in the series, for which they hope to create more real-world interactive elements. Take a look at their Kickstarter for details and to support this worthy project.

The Sealed Book Project Apps are available on both Google Play and iTunes. Take a look at the official website for further information.

The Walk

Created with the NHS and the UK's Department of Health, The Walk is promoted as a fitness tracking game, but also includes a thrilling story which is "unlocked" as your walking distance increases. 

As we face a second lockdown here in the UK, this might just be the prompt you need to get outdoors in the cooler weather!

Here's a description of The Walk from the developers:

With 65 episodes containing intricate, fully-illustrated maps, 800 minutes of audio story and hundreds of collectible items to explore the world of the story, The Walk is more than just a pedometer — it's a way to turn walking into a journey, a challenge, and a rip-roaring adventure. And you can use The Walk whatever your level of fitness or mobility, thanks to the game's 'adaptive fitness' system which adjusts to your own fitness levels and gives rewards for gradually increasing how much you move every day.

Learn more about The Walk on the official website. The app is available to download from Google Play and the App Store.

Bookshop Search (UK Based)

This smart app by The Booksellers Association will help you find local bookshops for all your literary needs. During these trying times, it is well worth supporting your local bookstore as opposed to merely ordering everything from Amazon. Even during lockdown, most indie booksellers can arrange to have your next read delivered to your door, and this app will help you find their contact details with ease!

Download Bookshop Search from Google Play or the App Store.

The Waterstones App (UK Only)

I'm sure by now that most Waterstones patrons have already installed this app since it replaces the Plus loyalty cards. However, I recommend this app for all book lovers due to the many other features which make this app great. 

Using the Waterstones app you can:

  • Browse the latest releases and curated book lists
  • Create wishlists of the books you want to buy (for yourself, for family members, for your Christmas shopping...)
  • Find, reserve and order books
  • Read reviews to decide whether books are right for you

BBC Sounds App

A lesser-known feature of the BBC Sounds app is the ability to listen to audio books, drama and radio adaptations of favourite reads. In fact, I don't remember ever using this app to listen to live radio; I most frequently use this as an alternative to Audible for listening to audio books in the car...

To find your next (free) audio book or drama, open the BBC sounds app and scroll down to the "categories" section. Choose "drama" then scroll through the categories to find the podcasts which most appeal to you.

I particularly enjoy the selection of "Classic and Period" podcasts, which include several unabridged audio books such as Alice in Wonderland, Cranford, H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Radio 4's "Books at Bedtime" series is always well worth a look: these abridged productions frequently serialise popular new book releases in 10 minute chapters over the course of two to three weeks.

Learn more about the BBC Sounds app and download from Google Play or the App Store.

What are your favourite bookish apps?

Do you have a favourite bookish app? Please share your own recommendations by leaving a comment below.

Amanda Kennedy / Book Blogger, Writer & Editor

Amanda is a lifelong learner and book lover who lives in the North of England with her family and several cats. She writes book reviews, literary news and bookish articles here on All My Pretty Books.

To learn more about Amanda's own work, visit her personal website.


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