Readly and PressReader

A screenshot of the Readly app on an iPad.

When it comes to reading magazines on a computer or tablet, you may well have heard of Readly, seeing as it’s widely advertised. But there’s a competitor, PressReader, that’s also worth considering. I’ve used both, and so here’s a comparison of the two.

Fundamentally, both services let you read as many digital magazines (and some newspapers) as you like, for a flat monthly fee. Both claim to offer thousands of titles.


As mentioned, Readly is probably the best known, as it’s advertised in lots of podcasts and through other third parties. Indeed, if you fancy trying it, you may find that a two or even three month free trial is available with a bit of searching (as opposed to the standard one month free trial). Normally, it costs £9.99 per month and claims to offer over 7000 titles to read.

You can be notified of new issues, and have these automatically download when you’re on wifi for offline reading. Pages in magazines can be bookmarked, and there’s a ‘mobile view’ which reformats pages for easier reading on smaller screens. I use this a lot; though I read magazines on an iPad, it simplifies the formatting and reduces the amount of pinch zooming needed.

A screenshot of the PressReader app on an iPad. It's an alternative to Readly.


I hadn’t heard of PressReader until a couple of months ago. It claims to offer over 8000 titles to read; many of these seem to be the same as Readly but it also includes some additional magazines like The Economist. There’s also some non-UK newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Like with Readly, magazines can be downloaded for offline reading, and it’ll reformat pages too. Indeed, on the whole it does this better than Readly, although sometimes it cut articles short. It also handles light and dark mode better on iOS.

Pricing is where things get a little more complicated. There is a free tier available, with around 500 magazines available to read. The ‘premium’ subscription, with unlimited access to all of its titles, is much more expensive than Readly – £27.49 per month, with only a 7 day free trial. So, in a nutshell, PressReader is almost three times more expensive than Readly.

But it’s not quite that simple. Many local libraries offer free access to PressReader through its HotSpot system. Indeed, this is how I found out about it. In West Yorkshire, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield libraries all offer complementary access, as long as you have a library card with one of them. Sorry Leeds residents, but your council doesn’t offer this, although it is available for Leeds Beckett University students and The Leeds Library members. Some hotel chains like Marriott offer this too.

The catch is that you may need to re-authenticate with your library on a regular basis. Where I am in Calderdale, this is every 30 days but could be as little as 24 hours in some places.

So do I use Readly or PressReader?

If it wasn’t already obvious, I used Readly for quite some time. However, when I found out that PressReader was available for free, I switched last month and cancelled my Readly subscription.

I had been contemplating cancelling Readly in any case. When I first subscribed, I was regularly reading both Rail and Modern Railways, and previously had subscriptions for each. Readly was slightly more expensive per month, but offered a better reading experience. However, Modern Railways hasn’t been available from Readly since the beginning of last year, or indeed any other unlimited magazine platform.

Something to consider is that, when you cancel Readly, you’ll get a special offer to try to keep you as a customer. In my case, this was a 40% discount for three months, if I remember correctly. So if you do subscribe to Readly, maybe try cancelling it once a year to see if they offer you a discount.

Pocketmags Plus+

I thought it would also be worth mentioning Pocketmags Plus+ here as a third alternative. Pocketmags Plus+ doesn’t offer nearly as many magazines – around 600, rather than thousands – but it does have a few that aren’t available on the other platforms. There’s no free trial but the first month is 99p, and then £9.99 thereafter.