You love your books, magazines and daily dose of news. And you love your smartphone. Guess what? It's time to integrate the two: the myriad of apps available can turn you into a speed-reader, a breaking news expert or just help you get through some of those long-awaited classics you've been hoping to read on your holiday. Plus, we're offering a super-exciting deal for Cosmopolitan fans through our Wuntu app: 50,000 free digital issues of your favourite monthly mag. So yeah, your travel bag's pretty much sorted - and with all of your reading material on your phone, there's plenty of room to pack that extra pair of sandals.
As we get ready to jet off on our summer hols, we’re bound to notice that technology really has made our suitcases lighter – instead of packing Lonely Planets and beach-ready reading material, everything we need to find our way in a foreign city and have two weeks of books, magazines and newspapers at our fingertips, is in our precious smartphone.
Reading is one of our greatest indulgences. Here are the tools of the trade that you need on your smartphone now to instantly improve your reading game… and get you summer-holiday ready.
Even better? We’ve got a superb digital magazine offer from our fab freebies and discounts app Wuntu for you this week.
Enjoy your favourite magazines
Hands up all Cosmopolitan lovers! This week, our Wuntu app is offering Cosmopolitan fans 50,000 digital copies of every woman’s favourite celebrity, fashion and lifestyle mag. And you don’t even need to stress about the pages getting stuck together if you accidentally drop it in the pool, because, naturally, you’ll be enjoying it from the comfort of your lounge chair, scrolling through the pages on your phone or tablet.
Move fast to snag this great deal (first, get Wuntu on iTunes or Android). Then swipe right on the Cosmopolitan card in the app, select Use now, and follow through to Hearst. Choose Cosmopolitan, fill in a few details and check yes to letting Hearst email you (you can unsubscribe from their marketing emails any time). Hearst will email you a link to your new digital magazine. There’s one code per user so get all your friends to sign up so they don’t miss out on the deal.
If you’re a total magazine buff, you probably also need Readly in your life – the app gives you access to over 2200 top magazines (yes, that includes all those stylish foreign fashion ones), and your favourite guilty-pleasure weeklies, for £7.99 a month. You can even get back issues to get up to date if you’ve been busy working, or had a child, or fell down a Stranger Things/OITNB rabbit hole the last few months…
Let Apple News keep you organised
In possession of an iPhone? Apple News will collect all the articles you want to read and stash them in one place, from news stories to visually arresting editorial spreads. So instead of flitting from newspaper app to magazine app to another news app and back again, all of your go-to titles can sit in one spot, where you can subscribe to your favourites, share great articles with friends or save stories to read offline. You’ll also get breaking news alerts so you can stay on top of the latest even when you’re in a rush…
You may not know this but audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today, and as other sectors of the book business (i.e. traditional publishing and even ebooks) see declines, stats show that readers are downloading audiobooks by the truckload – according to the Publishing Association, audiobook downloads are up 28%. What’s not to love? You get the same experience of being in a great book, but can listen when you’re driving, on a long walk or when exercising. And there’s even star-studded narration to boot.
Audible is your source for audiobooks, with over 200,000 to choose from. Try it for free for a month and then membership plans start from £7.99 a month.
Whether you’re a uni student who has three days to get through Dickens’ impressive oeuvre or are just struggling with information overload and want a better way to get the info you need, fast, then speed-reading may be your new best friend. Apps like Spritz essentially teach you a new way to read: by highlighting one letter in each word in red, your eyes stay focused on one point on the screen, allowing you to read up to 1000wpm sensibly.
Spreeder is another speed-reading app that can help you read at three times your normal speed. Just choose the number of words you see at any given time, changing the rate at which words come to you to achieve an optimal pace. These apps might just be essential for exam cramming/interview prepping/catching up on all the latest news. But probably won’t promote relaxation on your hols, so save ’em for when you’re back at your desk.
Get the classics
If you’re a dedicated bookworm, you’re going to need an app (or 10) that gives you access to unlimited tomes. The Kindle app works across all of your devices and helps to customise the reading experience with font sizing, typefaces and changing background colours. It’s also got a built-in dictionary for when you get that self-punishing urge to finally take the plunge and download James Joyce’s Ulysses.
The Goodreads app is a great resource for getting recommendations for new reads based on books you’ve enjoyed in the past (and what friends and those with similar interests are reading), while MegaReader is a mega-resource with over 2 million free books for your iPhone or iPad. Wattpad is the app for budding novelists and novelistas – you can submit your future bestseller and a community of avid readers (slash wannabe critics) can even interact and make comments on the story online. And don’t miss OverDrive – your online digital library for loaning you an endless supply of books, wherever you happen to be.
Embrace the aesthetics
Digital reading enthusiasts can still enjoy curating their books – digitally, that is. Just like Instagram fiends like to showcase their gorgeously snapped meals, adorable pets and unrealistically attractive friends, book aficionados have their own Instagram hashtag for supermodel-esque shots of literature: #bookstagram. Bonus points if you manage to artfully place your book next to a vintage teapot and cup, or surround it with random-yet-stylish knickknacks like perfectly executed origami designs, beads and candles.
If you’re looking for inspo on books to download next, check out Bookifer. The book review site is also beautifully laid out with books photographed against colourfully patterned backgrounds.
Main image: Via Hearst