If you’re anything like me, you’ll know the agonies of running out of reading material at inopportune moments – hospital appointments, on a holiday or long journey, at boring parties…This is the very basis of Readly‘s founding.
Before we get into how the app works and my own opinions, let’s learn the story of Readly.
Once upon a time, in the land of Sweden, there was an entrepreneur named Joel Wikell. One day, on holiday abroad, Mr Wikell found himself in the distressing position of running out of reading material. Some surprising research led him to the discovery that there was no service that offered access to multiple magazines online, in the same way Spotify offers access to music. Being a clever sort of chap, Mr Wikell thought to himself ‘We need a Spotify for magazines!’
In 2013, Readly – the first all-you-can-read magazine subscription service – launched in Sweden, to a collective sigh of relief from the reading public, and in March 2014, it hit UK shores. Right now, it operates in over 50 countries.
Here in the UK, we have female entrepreneur Ranj Begley to thank. She built the UK business from the ground up and now, with 77 publishers offering a combined total of 618 magazine titles to date, it has become the most successful magazine app in the country. Go Ranj!
Readly is now in hyper growth (fancy business term for a very steep spike in growth). They have secured partnerships with Vodafone and Channel 4, AND they launched their first ad campaign in June.
Personally, my interest was piqued when I received an email from the good people at Hearst last week, inviting me to a free trial. Hearst are the publishing team behind magazines like the über-popular Cosmopolitan magazine, along with many others. Since I had to give up Cosmopolitan, Psychologies and my other (admittedly numerous) magazine purchases when I got ill, I jumped at the chance to try the service. The normal price per month is £7.99, which is peanuts when you consider that some of the magazines available to Readly customers cost upwards of £3.99 each in the shops. If you bought them individually, it would take a massive chunk out of your book/meals out/cocktail money and we simply can’t have that.
So, for your £7.99 a month what else do you get, aside from access to over 1,600 magazines (including back issues and international titles like Gluten Fritt and Cosmopolitan Indian!)?
- Downloadable content so you can read your magazines anywhere without needing an internet connection.
- Access from any electronic device – iOS, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire and the web version.
- You can share it with your family, if you’re willing, with access for up to five devices.
- Parental controls to protect innocent eyes.
- Unique smart search – say you want to find something specific (Ryan Gosling? Recipes using chocolate?), you can search for a keyword across all the magazine titles AND issues.
- Access to crosswords and puzzles, including Sudoku, all playable using the app without need for a pen.
This is just some of what Readly has to offer, so it would have been rude to turn down the offer of a free trial.
The service itself is actually very easy to use. You can scroll through the hundreds of magazine titles (or head straight to ‘New Arrivals’ if there’s something new out and you know what you want), click the star to save it as a favourite or click the magazine itself to open the issue or back issues. It is unbelievably easy to work through a year’s worth of issues. I haven’t really spoken to my husband in a few days…hmm…
I found just one flaw with the service and that was with the ‘Favourites’ function. No matter how many times I remove Elle and Men’s Health from my favourites, they always reappear the next time I open the app, and occasionally, some of the magazines I added to the list previously have inexplicably vanished. However, since I know which magazines I was reading, it’s easy enough to find them using the search function. And I can overlook the reappearance of Elle and Men’s Fitness.
So, after a week, would I be willing to pay the monthly fee for Readly? Actually, yes. I’ve always liked holding my magazines in my hands, but having access to so many titles, and the ease of that access is a real draw. If I carry a magazine with me when I leave the house, I’m stuck carrying it the whole time, whereas my phone will be with me anyway. So yes! Sign me up! Give me access to Veggie and BBC Wildlife Magazine and Psychologies and then bugger off, because I’ve got a lot of reading to do.
Interested in trying reading for yourself? Follow this URL for your own free trial, then let me know what you think in the comments below.
**Please note, I have not received anything in return for this review and my opinions are my own.