I reached out to Bookly to inquire about sponsorship opportunities after using the free version of the app for a couple of weeks. While I was not paid to write this post, I was given a complimentary lifetime subscription to the app so I could give my honest thoughts about all of the features for this guide. I do not have an affiliate link and will not make any money if you download the app.
Greetings friends, and welcome to a post I’ve been working on for the past month! I’ve been pretty vocal on social media and in the Discord servers I’m in about my lowkey disdain for Goodreads. The website hasn’t gotten an update of value since Amazon purchased it back in 2013, and I’ve been on the hunt for a replacement.
Enter Bookly. While Bookly isn’t a replacement for Goodreads, it has drastically helped me keep track of my reading and provide valuable statistical insights.
What is Bookly?
Bookly is a iOS and Android app where you can set & manage your TBRs, set deadlines & goals, take notes & quotes while reading, and provide you with infographics when you are finished!
What was I looking for, specifically?
Honestly, I wanted an app where I could create an ARC TBR and set reading deadlines to try and tackle ARC Mountain. I tried a few apps out but really was wowed by the breadth of additional features available for free on the Bookly app, so I decided to give it a try!
So what are Bookly’s features?
My wishlist was a small one… until I saw all of Bookly’s features. We all know how much I enjoy statistics, suffice to say that I fell in love straight away 😍
- Real-time reading tracking: add books to your collection (limited to 10 books on free version) and start a session. The timer will record how fast you’re reading. When you finish a reading session, just stop the timer and enter the page you’re on, as a bookmark;
- Reading statistics: you’ll get monthly reports on your performance (Bookly Pro) so you know what you need to improve;
- Reminders: you can set a reminder to remind you to read at a certain time of the day or week;
- Know how much is going to take to finish the book: Bookly lets you know how long you have until you finish the book if you continue reading at the same pace;
- Monthly/yearly goals: goals with reminders that help you keep you focused and make a habit out of reading. Set out a Reading goal at the beginning of the month/year and challenge yourself to read more;
- Achievements: there are tons of achievements that you can unlock to stay motivated and keep things interesting and fun;
- Thoughts & quotes: you can easily add thoughts, notes, and quotes for each book, in both text and image form;
- Infographics: once you finish a book, you can generate an awesome infographic and share it with your friends;
- Lent books: in case you often share books with friends, Bookly lets you mark books as lent so you know where to find them.
Pretty amazing, right?! I honestly didn’t know I wanted many of these features but now that I’ve had them for the last month and a half, I don’t want to give them up.
Free Bookly vs. Bookly Pro
I used the free version of the app for about three weeks before activating my lifetime subscription given to me by Bookly. I took a bunch of screenshots of the app and its functionality so I could easily compare Free vs. Pro which I have compiled into the below slideshow.
As you will notice in the above screenshots, most of the app’s functionality is available in the free version. What you mostly miss out on are the Assistant, which provides personalized suggestions, detailed statistics over time, a word of the day. Other than that, you are limited to 10 books at a time and only have access to the rain ambient sound.
How I Use Bookly to Organize My Reading
Like I said earlier, all I was looking for was the ability to set deadlines. And then Bookly was like ‘I got you fam’ and suddenly I am using it to track my annotations, too! Not only that, but by tracking the amount of time you spend reading each day per book, it really provides an incentive to read and keep reading streaks running.
Taking Notes for Physical Books
Last month I wrote about how much I rely on reading notes and annotations when I’m writing my reviews. While I have no qualms writing in my books, I prefer to pass along my physical ARCs to international readers through Flapping Pages… and I don’t think they would enjoy my notes!
One of my favorite things about reading eBooks is being able to take extensive notes while I read. Bookly gives you the ability to write thoughts down while reading, type up quotes you enjoy, and even a dictionary function if you come across a word you don’t know.
This alleviates my need to write in my books or breaking my wrist writing in a notebook. Especially because you can note the page number for your thoughts & quotes. I use page flags and short hand for quotes so I don’t have to copy everything down, but it is a lifesaver for me and my goldfish brain when writing my reviews. All you have to do is click the icon to scroll through your notes.
ARC Read Planning
We all know that I am a planner and tracker, making use of my Book Blogger Spreadsheet template (2020 version coming next month!) to keep track of my reads. It works really well for me, but I wanted something a little extra to keep me on track.
About a week ago, I took a hard look at my 2019 and older ARC obligations. I eliminated three of them due to no longer being interested in reading them (sorry!), and added the remaining 23 to the app under an ‘ARCs to Read”.
I’ve since read 3 of my ARCs (whew!), but I’m taking advantage of the ‘Read by date’ option for the four books I’ve identified to try and read this month. The breakdown of how much you need to read in order to meet your end date should prove helpful for me! Hopefully moving forward I can knock out at least an ARC a week from this backlog to get caught up – which could possibly get me good by March 2020.
Building a Habit of Reading
The daily reminder I set, and the subsequent reading streak, also provide me motivation to read. Sometimes all you need is a little nudge to pick up a book and try to get some pages read. Last month I literally read 4-8 pages for days in a row to not break my streak. I’m nothing if not competitive.
There are also some fun achievements that you can unlock. There are a total of 30 and all of them are available on the free version of the app.
For the most part, the achievements reward you for reading – streaks, books read, pages read, and amount of time spent reading using the app. As a gamer, I appreciate the added incentive.
If you’ve ever tried to track your reading progress for audiobooks with Goodreads, you will know that there is a lot left to be desired. Bookly tracks your progress on audiobooks by minutes read, which is super helpful! Unfortunately, I DNF’d the one audiobook I was reading (Imaginary Friend).
Added Bonus – The Infographics
It’s well established that I like data, and I appreciate seeing how many pages I read per hour. You might have noticed the below infographic in my last couple of reviews; well, that’s where they come from!
Bookly is really awesome, but I do have a little wishlist. All but the last one are what I would consider ‘nice to haves;’ I am still kind of bitter I lost my streak and approximately 4 hours reading A Thousand Fires before midnight on November 1.
- Ability to delete collections, or at least rename them.
- Ability to access prior months’ reading report after the month has passed.
- Ability to add a book to a collection after finishing without having to edit the collection itself.
- Friends! I am competitive and want to compete with someone other than myself.
- Ability to have a reading session over two days without losing your streak. I do most of my reading at night and often carry over past midnight. If you don’t want to lose your daily streak and have your time spent on the previous day lost, you will need to end the session before midnight and start a new one after midnight.
Note: after talking with Bookly, it appears that I’ve uncovered a bug & they’re working to fix this!
Not only has Bookly provided me with a lot of fun statistics based on my reading, but it also gives me the ability to organize my reading.
Bookly isn’t a replacement for Goodreads. The app lacks the social aspect of the site and the ability to leave reviews for books, but it provides readers with additional tools to keep track of their reading and organize their thoughts for reviewing.
One of the nicest side effects of using Bookly for the past six weeks definitely is it builds a habit of reading. With the daily reminder and tracking your time spent reading each title, you have tangible evidence of your reading. Sometimes it sucks to only read six books in a month… but seeing that you read a total of 37 hours has a more positive feeling to it. And even though I read less books last month, I spent more time reading – which shows me I’m trying despite my stupid slump!
Do I think Bookly Pro is worth it?
Because my ARC Mountain is huge, the ability to add more than 10 books to organize my reading has been really useful for me. I also enjoy the monthly statistics provided via Bookly Assistant, but I also recognize the cost will likely be a roadblock for a lot of readers.
If I am being honest, I probably wouldn’t have splurged on the app on my own due to sticker shock even though I am privileged enough to be able to afford it. After having the opportunity to use the Pro version of the app, I do think it is worth it. I don’t know what I would have done after a 7 day free trial… I’d had been tempted for sure.
But I wholeheartedly recommend the free version of Bookly for every reader. Even if Pro isn’t in your budget, the features provided in the free version of the app will help you organize your reading and provide electronic annotation tools for those of you who don’t write in your physical books.
Bookly Pro Giveaway
Bookly has kindly given me a redemption code for a Lifetime Bookly Pro membership for one of you! All you need to do to be eligible is be a follower of my blog, but there are a bunch of ways to get extra entries if you are so inclined.
You have until November 20, 2019 to get your entries in, and may the odds be ever in your favor!