Reading is a great way to mix up your social-distancing routine, plus it helps you slow down and fully absorb yourself in new ideas and worlds. Buying physical books might be on hold for a bit (although you can still order, and should, ideally from an independent bookseller). Luckily, ebooks are a safe and mostly worthy alternative to the real thing.
Even if you’re staunchly anti-ebook, you may want to consider giving them a shot, and here’s why: Several digital retailers and ebook apps are giving away scores of free titles right now. You can stock up your phone, tablet, or even your PC with a free digital library that can easily carry you through these uncertain times, and well into whatever the world looks like once we’re on the other side of it all.
Apple is offering a “Stay at home” ebooks catalogue through its Apple Books service (via 9to5Mac). The collection includes numerous well-known novels, as well as a bevy of educational Sesame Street books and Winnie-the-Pooh stories for children. You’ll find the collection highlighted in the Apple Books app’s home page.
The Kindle app has plenty of free titles in its ebook store, but Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read even more books for free for $13.99 a month, plus discount pricing on other titles. Sure, it’s not technically “free” if you have to pay a monthly subscription fee, but it’s much cheaper than buying each book at full-price—and if you’ve never used the service before, you can get 30 days free, which should (hopefully) be enough to see you through the current crisis. (Maybe? Hopefully?) You can read any Kindle book using the Kindle app on Android, iOS, and PC.
Google has several free ebook titles in the Play Store as well. While many of them are public domain titles you can get just about anywhere, it’s a simple way to read classics right on your Android device. That said, there are plenty of modern offerings available too, and Google is also giving away many of the same Sesame Street-themed educational books as Apple for free right now.
Libby, Hoopla, and other Library apps
Provided you already have a library card, you can use apps like Libby, OverDrive, Hoopla, and more to virtually “check out” ebooks and other media right on your device.
Comixology and Viz Media
More of a graphic novel and manga person? Most of the apps above have graphic novel and manga titles, but Comixology and Viz Media are going to be your best bet for finding free issues of your favourite comics and manga.
Both apps have a selection of free issues from a wide variety of publishers/creators, but you can also unlock massive libraries of free-to-check-out titles for just a few bucks a month. Comixology is available on Android, iOS, and Kindle, while Viz Media is available on Android and iOS.