Happy Monday and happy New Year!
Being a broke university student (formerly) and a broke professional writer (currently) it probably goes without saying that I am a big fan of free books. Last year whilst going to uni I was told about Project Guttenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/) which I primarily used to read books in the public domain.
Public Domain Books
A public domain book is a book with no copyright, a book that was created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited. Every book and tale written prior to 1923 (or 1947 in most countries) is in the public domain, among them, every book written by Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe and H. G. Wells. (source: wikipedia “public domain”)
However as much as I love and support the work Project Guttenberg does, I have always struggled to find a good Project Guttenberg reader app for my phone/tablet. I have tried the Guttenberg Books app for android and (SURPRISE: DOUBLE APP REVIEW) it’s awful. It frequently crashes, looses my place in books, has a very poor search function, and generally kind of drives me insane but as per the hardness of my head I toughed it out with the Guttenberg Books app for a year.
Then one day whilst reading this really brilliant book called The House on the Borderland and after loosing my place in the book several times in the first 50 pages (I read slow AND have a job AND a family, it’s hard for me to put down more than 5-10 pages in a sitting), I got really fucking frustrated. This frustration drove me in, what I anticipated would be a arduous hunt for the right reader app that wasn’t kindle(1), to the digital pages of “Serial Reader: Classic Literature in 20 Minutes a Day”.
The idea behind Serial Reader is that each book available in the app is “subscribable” meaning that each book you subscribe to is broken into chunks that are under 20 minutes to read (I have yet to see any over 15minutes in my feed but I only subscribe to one book at the moment) which is usually about a chapter, and each book you’re subscribed to is sent to you in a daily “issue”. It’s a well established tradition in literature to release novels in serialised episodes, this is how Wilkie Collin’s classic detective novel “The Moonstone” was originally published in Charles Dickens’ newspaper (yes, that Charles Dickens) All The Year Round and Dickens himself even earned his literary success with the serialisation of his novel The Pickwick Papers.
Serial Reader is itself simple and easy to use and has a minimum of bugs (there is this one where it remembers my previous stopping point but when I swipe the next page it
jumps back to my actual stopping point, it’s my literal only complaint about the app) and has wonderful little features like being able to highlight and take notes on text in app but the features that are my FAVOURITE are when you highlight a word or phrase, a prompt pops up asking if you’d like to define or look up on wikipedia IN APP(2) which leaving a reader app is the number 1 reason I don’t look up the definition of more words or look up the wikipedia entry on unfamiliar phrases.
There are other minour features such as progress bars, badges of reading completion, and a variety of fonts (this is a surprisingly great feature, I’m not usually a font person but I really like “OpenDyslexic”), which are great but most of them didn’t leave as much of an impact as being able to define/wiki a highlighted section of text in the app.
Overall if you’re looking for a Kindle alternative, again I am no authority I have very little experience with the Kindle reader despite hearing near universal praise, Serial Reader is an extremely solid choice.
Feel free to share with me your experiences with Serial Reader and/or other reader apps (including Kindle, I guess but I get enough feedback on that from literally every other reader in my life) in the comments below.
Keep reading, folks. Even if it’s in 20 minute chunks.
- I really don’t know why I have had this unofficial kindle reader boycott, maybe it’s because I avoid apps that want me to enter payment information or something. I think it’s a money-fueled-fear aversion. Or maybe I’m a trend setter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Okay so results may vary, as I discovered whist writing this. The copy/define/wikipedia/etc feature works on my LG android phone but doesn’t seem to work on my MI phone.