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Internet-based subscription services look to be the future. For video, you’ve got Netflix, the king. For music, you’ve got big man Spotify. If there was an Internet subscription for literature, that would complete the trifecta, wouldn’t it? Well, look no further because ebook subscription sites are finally here.

For not much money at all, you can unlock an entire world of literature just waiting to be read at your convenience. Indeed, in the long run, ebook subscriptions tend to be far cheaper than buying them at retail prices. Should you subscribe? If so, which site is best?

Are eBook Subscriptions Worth It?

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There are those who scoff at the idea of paying a monthly fee to read books. Granted, if you aren’t a big book reader to begin with, then you probably won’t benefit much from subbing to one of these sites. But here’s the funny thing: avid readers probably won’t benefit much either.

The three most important questions to ask are:

  • How many books do you read per month?
  • Which genres do you prefer to read?
  • What are the eBook devices available to you?

If you rarely read, you probably won’t be able to justify the monthly fees. If you read through books as fast as a college student burns through Netflix episodes, you’ll probably outgrow your subscription pretty fast. The same is true if you read in obscure genres. And depending on which devices you have, you may not even be able to utilize some of these sites.

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For those who don’t read often, you may want to check your local public library first. Most libraries nowadays offer ebook rentals for free Where Can I Borrow eBooks From? Where Can I Borrow eBooks From? If you have an e-reader, you will know how convenient eBooks are. I have a Kindle and I love it. It makes reading anywhere a breeze and I read a lot more too. However, the... Read More , which is the way you want to go for one-off reads. Obscure genre readers and those who need to read new releases are probably better off making straight purchases.

But if you fall somewhere in the middle of it all, ebook subscriptions are extremely worth it. Plus, as title selections increase and ebook technology improves, so too will the value of an ebook subscription.

The Best eBook Subscription Services

Scribd

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Back in 2006, Scribd was born as a service for publishing academic papers. It exploded in popularity in 2009, when Scribd first inked a deal to sell ebooks. Since then, Scribd has been one of the best places to purchase user-submitted papers and retail books, and in 2013 they launched their subscription service which granted users access to Scribd’s entire library for a monthly fee.

Price: $8.99 per month for unlimited access.

Free Trial: Yes, one month.

Selection: 400,000+ ebooks from 900+ publishers.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook, Web.

Regions: Worldwide, though some ebooks are unavailable in some regions.

Note: You only have access to Scribd ebooks while your subscription is live. When it ends, you lose all access.

Oyster

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Like Scribd, Oyster launched its subscription service in mid-late 2013, but Oyster quickly earned a lot of praise and support for its beautiful interface, wonderful reading experience, and ease of use. It started as an invite-only membership site, but quickly scrapped that in favor of a 30-day free trial system. Oyster outshines Scribd in many ways in exchange for a slightly higher monthly fee.

Price: $9.95 per month for unlimited access.

Free Trial: Yes, one month.

Selection: 500,000+ ebooks from 1,600+ publishers.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook, Web.

Regions: United States only.

Note: You only have access to Oyster ebooks while your subscription is live. When it ends, you lose all access.

Entitle

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Formerly known as Ereatah, Entitle made a name for itself over its complex user recommendation system. Rather than paying for access, you actually get to keep the ebooks that you download So You Think You Own The Books and Games You Paid For? [Opinion] So You Think You Own The Books and Games You Paid For? [Opinion] I've got a shelf full of books. I love them. I read them. I even use them as a backdrop for my wife's science videos. And sometimes, I lend them to friends. It's not complicated,... Read More through Entitle — even after your subscription ends. The downside is that the number of ebooks you can download is limited, the selection is smaller, and the monthly fee is the highest of all the sites on this list.

Price: $9.99 per month for 2 ebook downloads, $14.99 per month for 3 ebook downloads, or $19.99 per month for 4 ebook downloads.

Free Trial: Yes, seven days.

Selection: 200,000+ ebooks.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader.

Regions: United States only.

Kindle Unlimited

Having launched just last month, Kindle Unlimited is the newest of the four services. It offers the largest selection of books for a moderate price, but also comes with a complimentary Audible membership for downloading audiobooks. When it comes to audio, the selection is less (around 7000+) but you can seamlessly swap between reading and listening.

Unfortunately, the five biggest publishing houses (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster ) have all declined to participate, meaning you may not be able to find the ebooks you want to read, even if they’re popular.

For a deeper look, check out our review of Kindle Unlimited Kindle Unlimited -- Is It Really Worth It? Kindle Unlimited -- Is It Really Worth It? Amazon's rumored "Netflix for books" service is finally here: Kindle Unlimited. In theory, it sounds fantastic. But is it all that it is hyped up to be? Read More .

Price: $9.99 per month for unlimited access.

Free Trial: Yes, one month.

Selection: 600,000+ ebooks.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Web; pretty much any platform that can handle read Kindle ebooks Don't Like Amazon? Alternatives To The Kindle eBook Reader App For Android Don't Like Amazon? Alternatives To The Kindle eBook Reader App For Android Amazon has its own set of flaws that send readers looking for an alternative that’s just as good. Looking to get away from Amazon, the Kindle, and DRM? Here are some of the best ebook... Read More .

Regions: United States only.

Note: You only have access to Kindle Unlimited ebooks while your subscription is live. When it ends, you lose all access.

Final Thoughts

If you aren’t in the United States, you really don’t have an option here other than Scribd. However, for those within the United States, it’s a toss-up between Oyster and Entitle depending on your preference. Go with the former for a pleasant experience and large selection. Go with the latter if you want to keep what you’ve paid for.

Are you a member of an ebook subscription site? Which one and why do you prefer that one? If not, what’s keeping you from taking the leap? Share your thoughts with a post in the comments below!

Image Credit: Reading an E-book Via Shutterstock, eBook Tablet Via Shutterstock

  1. Jody r
    October 14, 2015 at 12:09 am

    oyster is ending in january 2016 according to their site.

  2. shell
    March 19, 2015 at 4:15 am

    I joined oyster and I love love love it! if you have a friend to try the trial you get a 15.00 credit and so does your friend..so you have 30 day free trial then they take 5.00 from your credit for the next 3 months so you only pay out 5.00 of your own money then you can decide if you want to continue you with the full subscription price...great selection of books!

    • Joel
      March 20, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Very nice referral system! Glad you like Oyster. Sounds like you're having a blast. :)

  3. Niki
    February 17, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I have also tried kindle unlimited and am not all that impressed either. I am trying scribd now and so far, i like it.

  4. Denise
    January 13, 2015 at 2:24 am

    I recently signed up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and am not impressed. The books I want to read are not included, and the books that are included seem to be "second tier." I'm not expecting to be able to get just-published or bestseller books, but many books that don't fall in those categories are only offered for an additional fee. There also seems to be a lot of self-published books. I have nothing against these books, per se, as long as they're well written and well edited, but so many of them are not.

    I had high hopes for Kindle Unlimited but there just isn't enough of what I want to read available so I will not be joining when my free trial expires. Thanks for the other options to check out!

    • Joel Lee
      January 18, 2015 at 12:25 am

      Yikes, thanks for sharing your Kindle Unlimited experience. Let us know which alternative you end up sticking with! I'd be interested in knowing just for the sake of my own curiosity. :)

  5. Sean
    January 1, 2015 at 2:19 am

    I have really enjoyed scribd - and they just added audio books with the service.

  6. Charity
    August 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    There are so many, many FREE ebook services, that unless you want a certain ebook that isn't free, you would be much further ahead by buying the occasional ebook. Public libraries also lend ebooks now, also for free.

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