READER'S CORNER: eBook Subscription Services
Everybody has already heard of Kindle Unlimited, so no need to bother with that one. Many are unaware that it is (1) not the only such service, (2) not the best deal for your money and/or (3) offers almost no professionally published books. It all depends on what you want, from professional authors and publishers, independent authors, those inbetween and (yes) whether you get to keep those ebooks.
Did that last point catch your attention? Unfortunately, the one I was thinking about is currently having problems, so more on this in a later installment.
Most professional authors have misgivings about such services; KU is at the bottom of their concern in this, for it offers the least number of works from pro-authors by a wide margin. Most pro publishers will not work with KU and likely never will for the most part.
Imagine the % of subscription reads paid to authors through publishers vs. a purchased book; take 10% or less of that for what passes through to the author. Often much less. Compared to what self-publishers earn, it is still better. Just the same, we're talking about the other side now, and that means you, readers. And here's the final catch:
If you have the money to spend, then you don't have to pick just one service. The only limitations may be the type of reading device you use and whether or not there is a reading app(lication) available for it.
Some of these are not for adults but offer a great experience for kids! This time out, we'll stick to those that might be lesser known or not already splogged everywhere. And we won't try to cover all of the options in this first article.
- Devices: iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, plus web access
- Holdings: ebooks (Reading Rainbow, 450+), scholastic (Reading Rainbow), tv series (Reading Rainbow, all episodes)
- Limits: 5 ebooks at a time; monthly access unlimited
- Free Trial: 14 days
- Price: $9.99/month, $29.99/6 months, $49.99/year
The site is terrible; clunky, chunky, and needed info (price, etc.) is not revealed upfront. Even their “gift” giving option isn't clear about cost. Its look might appeal to young-young readers as a way to get to the parents, but the little ones won't be the ones to purchase.
Put all this aside and rough it out, if you have young ones in the K to 3rd Grade age groups. This one should not be passed up by anyone familiar with the exceptional Reading Rainbow series hosted by Levar Burton.
- Devices: iPad, Kindle, Android
- Holdings: ebooks (15K+, english/spanish), audiobooks
- Limits: ebooks unlimitied (?), audiobooks (unknown)
- Free Trial: 30 days
- Price: $4.99/month
DEAL MAKER! Another one for younger readers with broader age range (categorized) from pre-K to 12+. It is free for verified educators and librarians. This is better than Skybary for families with 1+ kids of varied ages. And you get upto 4 separate reader accounts with 1 subscription.
If you want your kids reading as well as zoning out in front of a video game, then you've got to try this. I will likely recommend it to my daughter as soon as my granddaughter is of age for some regular reading, and that's not far ahead.
- Devices: nearly all!
- Holdings: ebooks (500K+, multilingual), audiobooks
- Limits: ebooks unlimitied, audiobooks (unknown)
- Free Trial: 30 days
- Price: $8.99/month
This is a promising service with a site designed properly. While it uses a common responsive design (7+ screens to reach the bottom on a HiRes notebook), at least it shows pertinent information at the top. You can search out authors and titles immediately without having to subscribe. This is the model that other ebook subscription sites should follow for readers interested in more than just fast-food fiction. Unfortunately, you won't find our books on this system.
This is the one service we found so far that offers the option to keep some ebooks even after a subscription ends… supposedly. Unfortunately, between the time I first went to this site and now, the site is down. I will update you when I know more.
WARNING: As if this morning, Oyster would not function at all after loading in either Chromium or Firefox (with appropriate security active in both). Examination of the opening page's underlying code shows an abysmal amount of encoded/inline fonts… and there is no telling what else might be in there. This out-dated approach to fonts in web design has been used in the past as a delivery system for malware/hackware. USE WITH CAUTION.
More subscription options for readers are pending as time permits around writing.