The headline isn’t exactly correct, but it is the implication of the new book subscription services being offered. The three biggest are Amazon Unlimited, Scribd, and Oyster.
If you are unfamiliar with them, now is the time to do a little digging. In fact, after you’ve read this post, pick one and sign up for the 30 day trial and see for yourself.
Each offers the reader unlimited reading access to their catalog for a monthly price of around $10. You can read as many books as you want and pay no more than the monthly fee. So if you are a voracious reader you win! If you only read one book per month or less, then you might as well just buy the book. Some pundits are calling it the “Netflix of Books.” But like the streaming media offerings (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime) each service has something the others do not. No one place has all the books all the time. Let’s look at each in turn.
This service hit the news this week because they just signed an exclusive arrangement with Harlequin to make 15,000 romance titles available to their readers. This is significant because romance readers are generally considered the most voracious of all.
Scribd also has an arrangement with HarperCollins for their entire catalog which includes Zondervan and Thomas Nelson books. Harper also licensing select content with other services, but Scribd has access to their whole catalog. And since HarperCollins just bought Harlequin…you see the connection.
Scribd isn’t only limited to Harper titles. They have also recently added 10,000 titles from Simon & Schuster (which includes Howard Books). Their fee is $9 a month. So you can save a buck versus the other two services!
An interesting difference with Scribd is they also give access to thousands of documents, which include court cases, scientific studies, and even self-published books.
You are limited to reading the books on the various Sribd apps or on the web. You cannot send your books to your dedicated ereader (like a Kindle or Kobo device).
Authors get paid via a licensing arrangement they have made with the various publishers. Our agency’s clients have seen some income credited to their account. But the service is still newish so any substantial volume has yet to appear.
Try Scribd here (www.scribd.com)
I tried out Oyster Books on my iPad to see what the hullabaloo was about. Kept the service beyond the initial trial period to run it through its paces.
They have a nice selection of books. Again, not an exhaustive offering, therefore many bestsellers do not appear. But there is still plenty to read with over a half a million books to choose from. I dipped into old classics and even recent bestsellers like the biography of Steve Jobs. It was easy to browse and add books to a potential reading library.
But after a while the virtual shelf simply reflected my own bookshelves which is already filled with hundreds of “some day” books and I could not justify continuing.
However, it is a beautifully designed app both on the iPad, the iPhone, and on the web (and Android). I could change fonts, backgrounds, etc. As with Scribd, you cannot send your books to your dedicated ereader (like a Kindle or Kobo device), you must use the free reading Apps.
In many reviews Oyster is the #1 choice. But those who read romance may shift to Scribd to get access to the entire Harlequin catalog.
Try Oyster Books here (www.oysterbooks.com)
Not to be left out Amazon entered the fray with a lot of noise. They have over 600,000 books but none of the Big Five (Harper, PenguinRandom, Simon & Schuster, etc) are participating. They do have exclusives with the two biggest YA series published by Scholastic (Hunger Games and Harry Potter). The balance of their offerings are those authors who have published using the KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing) program.
There is some great content available because all the Amazon publishing imprints (like 47 North) are part of the service.
They also be downloaded into your Kindle dedicated e-reader device.
Authors are paid once a reader has read 10% of the book. And they are paid a full royalty as if the reader has purchased the book.
This one is still somewhat new so the jury is out. It will be interesting if any of the major publishers license their books to this service.
Try Kindle Unlimited here (Amazon Kindle Unlimted)
For tickles and grins I searched each of these subscription services to see which ones had selected bestselling books (a check mark shows if the service has the book available). This is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, Christian and general market titles. Who publishes the book makes a huge difference because if that company has yet to participate none of their titles will show up. It was also interesting to note that when some of the titles are searched and not found, the service provided alternative books in that same genre!
|Redeeming Love – Rivers
|Jesus Calling – Young
|Wool – Hugh Howey
|Divergent – Roth
|The Shunning – Bev Lewis
|Crazy Love – Frances Chan
|Blind Side – Michael Lewis
|Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Covey
Have you used any of these three services?
What advantages or disadvantages do you see to a service like this?
Other than the subscription fee, how is this any different from your local library?