Can you imagine a world without books? I can't. Even though I am a huge fan of the old print-and-ink books, sometimes it just isn't practical to juggle a stack of reading material (on the plane, in the car, waiting in line). These five big eBook services are all eager to win your business and mine. Here’s a comparison of each so you can decide which one works best for you!

5 Questions to ask yourself

You will notice right off the bat that, for applicable services, the monthly pricing is pretty competitive. So you’ll want to start by asking yourself these five questions to help determine which service or program may best suit you.

  • What device do you plan to use to read eBooks?
  • What types of books (genres) do you prefer to read?
  • How many books do you read—on average—in a given month?
  • Do you want to keep the books you read even after you no longer have a subscription (versus returning them like you do with a library book)?
  • What is your monthly budget to buy books to read?

 

5 eBook subscription services 

The five "big" eBook subscription services vying for your loyalty today are: Book Bub, Scribd, Amazon Kindle, Entitle and Oyster. Here’s a look at each.

1. Book Bub

  • Website: https://www.bookbub.com
  • Free trial: N/A – pay as you go.
  • Subscription cost: N/A – pay as you go.
  • Cancellation: N/A – pay as you go.
  • Supported device(s): All devices (iOS, Android, readers).
  • Can you keep books you've read? Yes.
  • Number of titles: Thousands of titles – Book Bub does not specify, but if a title is featured for a special freebie, discount, or promotion with a major retailer they have a relationship with, you’ll get a notification about it.
  • Extras: Book Bub is unique amongst these five services in that it simply functions like an alert to let you know about daily free and discounted books from major retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Smashwords, Kobo). You redeem the deals you want through those retailers by clicking through to them from the Book Bub link.
  • Notes: Book Bub offers free eBooks and deep discounts through special sales and promotions, so often you’ll pay less than $1 for the books you read! You subscribe for daily or weekly emails (your choice) to receive alerts. 

2. Scribd

  • Website: https://www.scribd.com
  • Free trial: Yes – 30 days.
  • Subscription cost: $8.99/month.
  • Cancellation: Can cancel anytime without penalty (no refunds for partial months).
  • Supported device(s): All devices (iOS, Android, readers).
  • Can you keep books you've read? No.
  • Number of titles: 400,000+ eBooks (900+ publishers represented).
  • Extras: You can also find academic papers to read using Scribd. As well, you have access to audiobooks and personalized recommendations (the more you read, the better recommendations become).
  • Notes: This is the only major eBook subscription service that is available to customers who live outside the United States. 

3. Amazon Kindle Unlimited

  • Website: http://www.amazon.com/b?node=9578129011&tag=viglink20268-20
  • Free trial: Yes – 30 days.
  • Subscription cost: $9.99/month or free with Amazon Prime membership.
  • Cancellation: Can cancel anytime without penalty.
  • Supported device(s): Any platform (computer, tablet, device, app) that can read Kindle eBooks.
  • Can you keep books you've read? No.
  • Number of titles: 600,000+ titles.
  • Extras: Your subscription includes access to download audio books.
  • Notes: Since Amazon is not playing nice with some of the biggest publishers, you may not have access to some popular titles (such as those published by Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Random House).

4. Entitle

  • Website: https://www.entitlebooks.com
  • Free trial: Yes – 7 days.
  • Subscription cost: $9.99 (2 eBooks/month); $14.99 (3 eBooks/month); $19.99 (4 eBooks/month).
  • Cancellation: Can cancel anytime without penalty.
  • Supported device(s): iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Kobo, Nook.
  • Can you keep books you've read? Yes.
  • Number of titles: 200,000+ eBooks.
  • Extras: This is the only major eBook subscription service that permits you to keep the eBooks you have read after your subscription expires.
  • Notes: Entitle is also a partner with the Ellen Degeneres show through Ellen's Book Bar, which highlights books featured on the show and donates a portion of subscription proceeds to a scholarship fund to send deserving kids to college.

5. Oyster

  • Website: https://www.oysterbooks.com
  • Free trial: Yes – 30 days.
  • Subscription cost: $9.95/month.
  • Cancellation: Can cancel anytime without penalty (no refunds for partial months).
  • Supported device(s): iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, apps and web readers.
  • Can you keep books you've read? No.
  • Number of titles: 500,000+ eBooks (more than 1,600 publishers represented).
  • Extras: This service has a lovely, easy-to-use interface that many users love.

So…which eBook service is for you? 

So now it’s time to decide which eBook subscription service is the best fit for your needs. Here’s an overview of how to choose based on your personal priorities.

  • If you love eBook freebies: Book Bub
  • If you only want to buy books that are discounted at least 90%: Book Bub
  • If you don't want to subscribe to a service: Book Bub
  • If you want to keep what you read: Entitle or Book Bub
  • If you want access to the most titles (and don't care about major publishers): Amazon Kindle
  • If you want access to eBooks from major publishers: Oyster
  • If you prefer the easiest-on-the-eyes digital interface: Oyster
  • If you’re already an Amazon Prime member: Amazon Kindle
  • If you have an interest in academic titles and user-submitted papers: Scribd
  • If you only want to pay for the books you have time to read each month: Entitle