Books in a multimedia environment bring certain advantages not available on paper alone or via classic audiobooks. Among those advantages are audio accompaniment for text and cloud syncing of notes and highlights.
Add to that the lower distribution costs of multimedia over paper and the browser becomes a good tool for books. You don’t need an e-reader or a tablet.
In this week’s All Things Appy we take a look at the best free Chrome browser apps for books — not only free apps but free books too.
About the Ecosystem: Google’s Chrome apps and extensions for its browser are obtained in the Chrome Web Store. Open Chrome on a PC and select a new tab; then choose the new-look Chrome Web Store tile on the page and use the on-page Search box to find the app you’d like to use.
Installed apps are now available in the Chrome bookmarks bar.
No. 1: Kindle Cloud Reader
Kindle Cloud Reader has 4 1/2 stars out of a possible 5 from 1,497 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 1,261,255 users.
Scroll through your Amazon Kindle book collection and read them from within the Chrome browser.
Cloud-like features include the ability to see and edit bookmarks, notes and highlights that you’ve made on other Kindle-enabled devices. Last pages read are synced, and your current book can be read offline, too.
No. 2: MeeGenius Children’s Books
MeeGenius has 4 stars out of a possible 5 from 385 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 107,971 users.
This app reads beautifully illustrated children’s books. One in-store reviewer comments that this app saves a lot of work at bedtime. Maybe, but MeeGenius also highlights the words on-screen in sync with audio, and kids can read the books themselves too, without the audio playback. A pause button helps with recapping.
Free titles include fables “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Field Mouse and the Town Mouse,” among others.
No. 3: Google Play Books
Google Play Books has 4 stars out of a possible 5 from 2,210 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 1,869,956 users.
Four million books are available for browsing along with numerous preview pages. The app boasts that it has millions of books available instantly for free too, which it may well do, but they’re embedded with the paid books and so difficult to find without a title.
You have some work to do, in other words, and the app has a runner-up position in our list as a result.
No. 4: English Audio Books – Librivox
English Audio Books – Librivox has 5 stars out of a possible 5 from one reviewer in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 1,104 users.
Public domain audio source LibriVox provides access to more than 3,000 audiobooks including novels, biographies and so on, all recorded by volunteers.
One of the advantages of audiobook via Web browser is that you can read along with the text if it’s provided, and it is here. So, this app is highly suitable for learning English too.
No. 5: 100% Free eBooks & Audiobooks
Freebooksites.com’s 100% Free eBooks & Audiobooks has 3 1/2 stars out of a possible 5 from 31 reviewers in the Chrome Web Store. The app has 21,765 users.
This app isn’t really an app, it’s more of a compendium of resources to find free and very cheap books, but we’re including it because it is a good source.
There’s a bit of work to do, because you need to scroll through endless links to get anywhere, but it does have a massive list of free book resources.
Want to Suggest an Apps Collection?
Is there a batch of apps you’d like to suggest for review? Remember, they must all be for the same platform, and they must all be geared toward the same general purpose. Please send the names of five or more apps to me, and I’ll consider them for a future All Things Appy column.
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