Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW of the eBook Subscription Services

With the launch of Kindle Unlimited, we thought it was time to do a comparison and give our opinion as to which one is worth your $9 or $10 per month. We began talking about subscriptions back in 2009 and I followed that up in 2011. It’s amusing to look at the considerations that we discussed at the time. I was willing to pay $25 a month at the time! Not so much now.

Subscription services comparison chart

Like the fancy chart? I worked on that on and off for hours. It sucks, I know. Graphic design is not my forte. Colors, fonts, white space? Also not my thing. Words are my thing. Incorrectly spelled words, but words nonetheless so here is my barrage of words pertaining to subscriptions.


Updated:  I should note that Scribd is $1 cheaper than all others, is the only one available outside the US and if you are a DA reader, you can try it out for three months for free:

Scribd is a lovely app both in iOS and Android although I found the note taking / highlighting a tad more intuitive on my iPad. As you can see in the screenshots, the annotation features appear directly above the highlighted text whereas on my Samsung phone, it’s at the top menu bar. Awkward.

scribd ios v android

Browsing is a breeze. Simply scroll or flick your way through the catalog of books. Tap the one you want to read, download it and you’re off. If you stop reading on your mobile device, you can pick up on the web where you left off. It syncs the location. And you can go back to reading on your mobile device later.

You can only download twenty books at a time for offline reading which means you have to remove one book from your device before you can add another. That’s as easy as tapping the “Edit” and “Remove” links on the menu bar of your library screen.


scribd remove

Scribd also offers some discovery features. When you highlight a book on your recently read shelf, it presents other books in a similar vein.

Smashwords supplies access to the premium distribution catalog to both Scribd and Oyster. You can find titles from Kristen Ashley, Bonnie Dee, Carolyn Crane, Jessica Clare. But there are plenty of self published titles that are only available on Kindle Unlimited. Some authors won’t participate on the Scribd platform because of piracy. When you search an author and there is pirated material on Scribd, it can easily show up underneath the main books. I understand Scribd is working hard to ameliorate that and if you have a legitimate book on Scribd, it’s hard to find a pirated version but that’s kind of a shakedown for authors. Put your book on Scribd to prevent unauthorized copies on Scribd!

Nonetheless, I thought the look and feel across platforms for the Scribd version was really great. It was easy to browse and return books. It felt like a true library without any hassle of waiting, checking out books, and returning them. It’s as easy as opening the app and then getting lost in its multitude of offerings.

Kindle Unlimited

Like Scribd, KU’s platform is a delight to use on either iOS or Android. Both have the same feature set in terms of note taking, annotating, bookmarking but Android allows you to browse and buy from within the App itself. On iOS, the renting/borrowing of books must be done through the browser. From a user standpoint, this makes Scribd the more elegant and useable option for iOS readers.

Additionally, to return a book, you either have to go Amazon.Com / Manage Digital Content or if you have an Android device, try to “borrow” a book. If you’ve reached your 10 book limit, Amazon warns you that you have to return a book. It recommends a book to return or you have the option of going to your list of borrowed books.

Once the book is borrowed, though, it falls into your library just like any other book. You can’t tell the borrows apart from the purchases.

The content differs in two ways from Scribd. First, Amazon is subsidizing the subscription access for publishers like Scholastic (Harry Potter series), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Life of Pi, JR Tolkien) and maybe other publishers. Some of the Sourcebooks catalog is included but not all. For instance, the seven Windham series books by Grace Burrowes are KU eligible but the Captive Hearts or Lonely Lords series). I suspect it might be due to the publishing date. The older titles are in but the newer titles are out.

For self published titles, the rank and file must choose a 90 day exclusivity with Amazon called the Kindle Direct Publishing Select also known as KDP Select or Select. Bigger name self published authors have cut special deals with Amazon to be included without exclusivity.

One of the biggest challenges is find KU eligible titles. Sometimes, you get the option to search and then filter down to KU titles but this is little checkbox is not always available.

Kindle Unlimited Eligible

On my Android device, there’s a helpful graphic denoting with titles are KU eligible but I can’t browse “romances” within the KU category.The helpful graphic appears some, but not all of the time. Here you can see I’m browsing the romance section and no KU eligible graphic appears above Hudson even though it is eligible as can be seen in another list.

hudson kindle unlimited

There’s a “search in KU” option but you can’t get there by the dropdown box on the search bar. Instead you have to go to the front page and click on the big KU graphic and then it appears.

Kindle Unlimited Search

There might be content but beyond what’s on the bestseller list, it’s damn hard to find. Additionally, I downloaded a copy to my desktop and when I opened my app there was a big red exclamation point and I received a “License Limit Reached” warning instructing me that I had exceeded the limit on the number of devices that could read the item.

2014-07-27 03.07.11

When I re-synced, those book covers with the exclamation points disappeared. I went ahead and reborrowed the book and there was no warning.

The big problem with KU is the ease of use from the device. Checking out, browsing KU titles, and then returning isn’t an effortless experience.  I’m not sure if this is because KU launched before it was supposed to given the leak or whether they just haven’t thought through how users will utilize this experience.  I suspect its the former. You can easily drill down to Prime eligible movies and from the streaming menu on a Roku or XBOX you are able to explore Prime only content as well.


Oyster is my least favorite of the services. It contains basically the same content as scribed and for a few cents less but you can’t search from the web unless you subscribe which puts you at a disadvantage. In order to sign up for the free trial you have to hand over the credit card. Thus in order to see whether the service even has the content you might be interested in, you have to sign up. I find that to be intrusive and limiting.

Update: Oyster contacted me and asked if I would make the following correction:

1. With Oyster, you can search on the web before starting a free trial.
2. Oyster has Houghton Mifflin (one of the top 10 publishers in the US), which Scribd does not have, which brings titles like Lord of the RingsLife of Pi, hundreds of additional New York Times bestsellers to Oyster. We work with over 1600 publishers, while Scribd only has 900. Oyster continues its partnership with two of the five largest publishers in the world, and six of the top 10. Oyster offers a diverse library of bestselling titles like Steve Jobs, Under the Dome, The Happiness Project, Beautiful Ruins, The Great Gatsby, Onward and tens of thousands of others.

The second really negative feature about Oyster is that it’s non iOS apps–both for the Web and the Android OS–are devoid of any functionality. You can read and that’s about it. There is no way to bookmark, search, highlight passages. In Android, the menu bar at the time shows at all times which is a completely different user interface than any other app, not even the reading apps, just every app out there.

Given that the content is pretty much the same as Scribd, except for McSweeney and Rodale publications, I saw little reason to sign up for Oyster over Scribd.


Screenshot 2014-07-26 23.06.38In my opinion, there are really only two subscription services worth using. It’s either Scribd or Kindle Unlimited.

The limitations are access to content. Each reader has to decide for themselves if the content is worthwhile.  The content in Scribd feels more robust given the participation of HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster however even those publishers aren’t allowing access to the front list.

Subscription with Scribd feels right if you want to read backlist titles. There are a ton there. I read Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” in no time and was presented with a host of other biographies after I was finished. If I didn’t read romance, I could spend my life in a subscription like Scribd.

But if you are reading newer books, I think Kindle Unlimited is the way to go but you are looking at access of primarily self published titles that are exclusive to Amazon in addition to Amazon titles. Is that worth $9.99?

I missed Berkley books as well as Harlequin. I’d love it if I had an endless access to category romances. I’ve wanted it for some time. Perhaps with the HC acquisition of Harlequin that may come to pass yet.

Content is vital for these subscription services. CEO Trip Adler told DBW that “The No. 1 reason people stop subscribing is that they want more books. We’re focused on getting best-selling books to attract readers.”

There’s no question that readers like subscription services. When Smashwords premium catalog went live on the Scribd platform, Mark Coker saidIt was the largest first-month sales for any new Smashwords retail partner in the last five years.”

Kindle Unlimited Affect

More recently, Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list is displaying the power of its subscription service. Over at Publishers Lunch (subscription link), they are documenting the rise of KU titles on the top 100 list. The top 100 list is important because Amazon’s recommendation algorithms start to take notice and recommend those books at various points on their site thus increasing their sales overall.

As of the 23rd, Cader reported that “45 of the top 100 titles are also available through Kindle Unlimited —  and 24 of the top 50 titles.” This includes Amazon published titles (which are all KU books), along with the subsidized publisher titles, followed by the self published books that are exclusive to Amazon. 

As of the writing 25th, 19 of the top 40 were KU titles, although most of the exclusive titles were Amazon imprints and only a handful were KDP Select titles. It should be noted that some of the top tier indie authors are allowed to participate in KU without being exclusive.

There are a lot of readers trying out KU this month. Bloggers have reported a decline in Affiliate sales. Whether this will remain constant, see Adler’s comment above. Each subscription service will need to add more content in order to keep the readers.


Screenshot 2014-07-26 23.14.38As for how authors get paid, all receive some proceeds after 10% of the book is accessed. Scribd and Oyster authors receive 60% of their retail rate and KU authors get a share of the “Global Fund.” The Global Fund is a fund set by Amazon that generally nets an author $2 per borrow through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and likely the same amount participation in KU. Amazon increased this month’s fund by $800,000.

As a side note, the authors who are making bank on the KU are those who are publishing serials at 99c. First, it takes almost no time to get to 10% on a serial that’s not much more than 60+ pages and second, the 99c book generates only $.30 in royalty versus the $2 per download/borrow through the Global Fund. Amazon does not differentiate between retail price when paying out monies through the Fund.

Generally speaking, anyone who is pricing their book under $2.99 is coming out ahead. Anyone with a retail price of above $2.99 is likely taking some loss in exchange for exposure.

KU Recommended Reads

Darlynne, a long time reader of Dear Author, went through hundreds of KU pages and made up a spreadsheet of entries that are worth  your time.

The books listed are either those I immediately grabbed for myself or are highly recommended by any definition of good crime writing. Not all series/books are offered, not all books in a series are included in KU. In the case of a series, I’ve provided the title of the first book. Ultimately, I’d like to produce one list of just author names, shorthand for, “Try these, surprise yourself.”

All the books here are recommended: highly recommended books display “R” in the Comment column, books I loved display “S” for squee. None of this guarantees any of the books will work for or speak to other readers, but I offer this list as a starting point for new-to-mystery readers or as a means to alert others who weren’t compelled to go through every single entry. The good news is that free-ish book = no regrets. What a relief.

Anyone want to do this for romance?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. library addict
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 04:15:44

    I am passing on these subsciption services. I may reconsider if/when they ever get some of the other Big 5 publishers on board, or even Harlequin. But at the moment that money per month for me is better spent purchasing books. Not that we actually own ebooks, but with Calibre I can at least feel like I really do ;)

  2. Deborah Nam-Krane
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 04:24:46

    I’m surprised people aren’t offering lower priced genre and category subscriptions.

    Thanks for the breakdown!

  3. Mikaela
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 04:51:15

    I’ll admit that I’m very tempted by Kindle Unlimited. If I sign up for it, I might cave and get a Kindle too. Or maybe I’ll just read on my tablet.

  4. Cap
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 06:08:47

    Thanks for this. I’ve been looking for a good comparison of Scribd and Oyster for a while. I’ve tried both and ended up with Scribd. The content being so similar, the two deciding factors were 1) when they got premium Smashwords and 2) the ability to search the catalog without subscribing (which allowed me to keep checking for improvements in catalog). I remember going so far as to Google “Kit Rocha Beyond Oyster.” Yikes. My only complaint is the graphics. Oyster is, well, prettier. I feel like its graphic designers are in a higher class than Scribd, and I’m not overly found of the text layout. There are also frequent graphics issues with the text, such as a chunk of text being separated from the mainlines pushed off the page, like falling off a cliff. But, that’s certainly not enough to keep me away. The selection is just too good. I think if you’re looking for a specific author, rather than just casting a net for a new book, KU will be disappointing.

    The audio aspect does make KU a lot more tempting (they’re expensive!), but I think the selection will still be a problem there as well. The truth of the matter is that very few good audiobooks come from smaller houses, and almost never for self-published books. Good production and top narrators are expensive. Amazon dropped some big names, but I have a feeling there’s not a long line of big names behind the few they have mentioned in advertising the service. Without one of the big five, I can’t see it being worth the money. For now, my Audible subscription and local digital library will suit just fine. I’m rolling in the audio from the library alone.

  5. Cap
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 06:16:16

    Oh, and I am considering getting a Fire so that I can read Scribd on the big screen, when I have previously been able to pass up all the bells and whistles in favor of eInk. So, Amazon need not fear, it is still the master of the universe. Even choosing a competitor’s product over its will result in a win for them.

  6. Keishon
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 07:57:27

    I signed up for Oyster before KU even got started because I think they have enough mystery books to keep you reading for months. They also have two major publishers providing content (none of the front list as mentioned) that KU doesn’t have or probably won’t ever have. Maybe that’s not a big deal. Moving on. For iOS users, Oyster’s interface is really nice and you have four themes to choose from. You can also take notes and highlight. They also just launched and will allow you to read from the web. It’s a shame you can’t access their content without a subscription but they also offer a 30 day free trial just like KU. So for iOS users I think Oyster is a valid consideration. If you have Android device, maybe not so much which is a shame that Oyster didn’t make the app as robust.

  7. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 09:23:42

    Okay let me try this again, because my original post has a number of errors. If someone would be so kind as to delete my earlier two posts, I’d be very grateful!

    Ugh! If I had the time I’d create the spreadsheet, but I don’t. I only hope the person who does create it won’t forget to list multicultural works in the romance genre. I’ve only been writing in the IR (Interracial romance) genre for a short time, but there are other writers who have built up fan bases over the years and who’ve helped popularize the genre. In addition, many work double duty as reviewers with websites that promote the IR genre (for example, Delaney Diamond’s Romance Novels in Color website)

    Unfortunately, finding not only IR romance but works with diverse characters can be a bit of a challenge on Amazon, and its the same with the IR category for Kindle Unlimited (full disclosure, most of my ebooks are on KU, and I did get a bump in borrows this month).

  8. LeeF
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 09:37:38

    Guess I am still a cheapskate and will stick with the library :-)

  9. Sunita
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 09:41:33

    @Keishon: Like you, I went with Oyster over Scribd (and I’ll unsubscribe from KU after the free month is up). I had to wait until it had an Android app because I don’t have an iOS devices. Since I don’t take notes or annotate the books I read on it I hadn’t even noticed the shortcomings that Jane points out, but I can see how that could be a dealbreaker for some. I really like the interface, I find it much more pleasing than Scribd’s. And I’m hopeful that the functionality of the Android and web apps will increase since they’re both very recent. Oyster started as iOS only and I’d almost given up on the possibility of them expanding to other platforms.

    The thing about Scribd is that it will take down a Scribd author’s pirated books if contacted (which does seem like a bit of a shakedown), but there is still a ton of infringing work on there. I’ve found a lot of old Harlequins which haven’t been digitized. Some may be non-digitized because the rights holders are hard to find (e.g. Mary Burchell, who is deceased and it may be difficult to find out who controls her estate). But others are clearly around (e.g., Charlotte Lamb’s daughter, not to mention the university press whose 2008 book of essays by Elizabeth Bowen is not in the public domain, even if some of Bowen’s work is).

  10. Darlynne
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 10:14:37

    As anyone in earshot of me can attest, I created the list of mysteries out of my own frustration in not being able to sort KU content within a genre by author. I used to think that was a Kobo peculiarity, but Amazon doesn’t provide the capability either. That’s like walking into a physical bookstore or library where everything is shelved or cataloged by publication date or title. Who thinks like that?

    This morning, I realized I’d left off Colin Bateman’s many books, a double-squee recommendation (if you’re interested, start with CYCLE OF VIOLENCE and then try MYSTERY MAN). Since the list isn’t complete anyway, I’ll send an updated file for Jane’s link soon.

    Fingers crossed someone somewhere will create a list for scifi/fantasy, too.

  11. Miss Reader
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 11:33:36

    I was totally tempted to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, but I already have plenty of books on hand to keep me busy. Plus I try use my library’s Overdrive site and Open Library for checking out ebooks. So I think it’s just cheaper for me to pass on these ebook subscriptions for now. Hopefully they keep on improving though.

  12. AH@badassbookreviews
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 17:43:13

    I’m just curious – if you have a library with ebooks and audio books available, why would you go the paid subscription route? My local library has tons of ebooks and audio books and membership for residents is free. Nonresidents pay a nominal fee which is much less than the fees charged by these subscription services.

    What will these subscription services do to our local libraries?

  13. Sunita
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 19:02:27

    @AH@badassbookreviews: Speaking for myself, I have access to two library systems, one of which has a decent ebook selection and lots of demand (so lots of waiting lists) and the other of which has a better ebook selection and even more demand. They are OK for audiobooks that aren’t current (the waiting lists for current ones can be quite long), so I do use them for that on occasion. But it’s worth $10/month to me to be able to read the books when I want and keep them as long as I want.

    I don’t think these subscriptions will hurt our library systems in any appreciable way, although librarians with more knowledge may think differently. The subscription services are still pretty limited, especially for newer books.

  14. Statch
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 19:09:09

    Thanks for doing the comparison. I hadn’t been paying attention when Scribd and Oyster came out, so when KU launched, it was hard for me to know how to compare them. I have too many books in my TBR pile to justify a subscription service now, but for that price, if one of them were to sign up more of the big publishers, even if just for backlists, I might bite. The library in the area I’ve moved to doesn’t use Overdrive; they use a much more limited service that doesn’t have much I’m interested in.

  15. Joy
    Jul 27, 2014 @ 20:39:45


    I have a Scribd subscription (I find they have plenty that I’m interested in reading; I haven’t seen much along those lines at KU yet) and I still use the Overdrive library ebooks. I find the selections are different enough I use each one for different books. Also there can be very long wait list at my libraries.

  16. Elaine Brown
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 00:15:08

    Is it worth mentioning that I believe Scribd is the only one avaiable to non US residents?

  17. Chris
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 05:56:18

    An interesting article, but it’s omitting one extremely important consideration: that “Kindle Unlimited” is only available to people in the US, whereas 95% of the people on this planet live elsewhere. A mention of the geographical availability of these different services would be a useful addition to it.

  18. Anna Richland
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 09:58:50

    I’d love some librarians to weigh in on this thread!

    My local library system (big city = Seattle) has extensive ebooks. We use them for kids on kobo and nook devices pretty regularly. A few years ago, in romance, the ebooks were mostly digital versions of print releases, but over this last year they seem to have changed their acquisition policy to reflect the times and are getting more and more digital-only or digital-first books through Overdrive. I see more and more Carina Press titles in the system, for instance.

    So I’m in the camp of why pay $120 a year for something that’s free with your tax dollars? For that price, you can own about 30 books that you know you want ($4 each). And authors do better, for the most part, if you buy.

    AND the subscription services track a ton of data on you – exactly how far into the book you stop reading, how fast you read, all that stuff. My reading habits are not their business, and certainly I don’t want the details of my reading to be exploited for their business model and other marketing.

    As I understand it, most libraries have very aggressive privacy policies. Subscription services? Nope. Ever since the Clinton/Lewinsky thing where they brought up the books Monica had bought Bill and used her Barnes and Noble purchase record (credit card record?), I’ve been the type of privacy nerd who wanted the sum total of my reading habits to be private. Sure, I put stuff on goodreads, but it’s stuff I chose to put there, not everything. I’m happy that the library doesn’t keep a record of what I’ve checked out once I’ve returned it – unless I affirmatively choose to have that kept. Subscription services want your data very, very much. Not altruistically.

    If you put yourself on multiple hold lists, you’ll always have books coming in. Our system allows you up to 50 holds at a time. Especially with the request for category – I’ve found that categories are VERY well represented in the digital library selections. Yes, on hold, but they do come through.

    Personally, I’m unwilling to let large for-profit internet services do to libraries what they did to brick and mortar bookstores.

  19. Sunita
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 10:50:19

    @Anna Richland:

    AND the subscription services track a ton of data on you – exactly how far into the book you stop reading, how fast you read, all that stuff. My reading habits are not their business, and certainly I don’t want the details of my reading to be exploited for their business model and other marketing.

    All the ebook platforms have this technology. We’ve talked about this before at DA, quite some time ago in fact. If you buy a book Amazon tracks you in exactly the same way as if you lend a book. They just use the information for a different purpose. The only away to avoid being tracked is to never communicate with their servers, which can only be accomplished by sideloading everything and leaving your wifi/data toggle in the Off position permanently.

    I’m pretty sure that my libraries also allow a lot of holds, but that involves another layer of keeping track, and I’m still reading books on their schedule rather than mine. If I thought that subscription services were likely to pose a real threat to library access I’d change my behavior because libraries are under enough strain as it is, but until someone with inside knowledge or data says that, I’m paying my $10/month.

    ETA: OverDrive states in its privacy policy that it acquires considerable data on usage. It’s not clear whether it specifically tracks reading activity, but it could do so under the TOS. And OverDrive “shares” its (anonymized) data. It’s a commercial enterprise, after all.

  20. Beret Brenckman
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 12:54:50

    I thought I’d give the 30 day trial a try with Kindle Unlimited. I quite like it. I went through some of the new release lists posted elsewhere and am trying “new to me” authors that I just didn’t/couldn’t justify purchasing with my limited book budget. I found I quite liked Jasinda Wilder and a few others. The advertisements for KU say that you can cancel at any time so I’ll probably just use it for a few months and then cancel.

    Library usage vs. KU – as the former assistant branch manager for a public library in Colorado I’m kind of on the fence about this. Our district was hit with a pretty huge usage “fine” on Overdrive for three years in a row for eBooks and audio. That took away from what I could buy for my paperbacks and hardcovers for the physical branch. My library only allows five holds and even though we are in a consortium of libraries, I just don’t find much I want to read. Denver Public does a good job with eBook purchases but I don’t live in Denver and have to go through much rigamarole as far as getting a Denver card is concerned.

    As for the privacy issue, I don’t really care about the tracking as I review and post all my books on Goodreads/Facebook anyway.

  21. Deljah
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 18:50:26

    I’ve had a Scribd subscription for a while, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m doing the free month for KU, but plan to cancel it.

  22. Felipe Adan Lerma
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 06:40:46

    “For self published titles, the rank and file must choose a 90 day exclusivity with Amazon called the Kindle Direct Publishing Select also known as KDP Select or Select. Bigger name self published authors have cut special deals with Amazon to be included without exclusivity.” –

    My biggest problem with KU at this time, both as a reader and a writer. That’s a lot of titles not in KU but potentially available on Scribd (or Oyster.)

    Michael Sullivan has an article at The Passive Voice that speaks to this. The comment thread is very intense. Lots of pros and cons and counter-arguments.

    Which leads me to,

    “But if you are reading newer books, I think Kindle Unlimited is the way to go but you are looking at access of primarily self published titles that are exclusive to Amazon in addition to Amazon titles.” –

    Don’t quite understand that.

    As many (or more) self-published new titles are, because of exclusivity, brand new on Scribd (and Oyster.) And reportedly many of those are or were on best seller lists. And, they aren’t excluded from being made available at libraries – something titles in Select are kept from.

    Other than that :-) and having a link to recommended titles on KU but not Scribd :-) nice comparison points and links.

    And I do especially appreciate the several mentions where some authors are being allowed to be non-exclusive in Kindle Unlimited, while the vast majority of small self-published authors are not.

    I’d wanted a subscription service for ebooks since my wife and I realized what a relief it was with Netflix to be able to sample and explore new titles and actors and such. And I’d especially anticipated Amazon matching Scribd and Oyster.

    But with their self-imposed exclusivity (on small self-published authors without clout, ie, me) there’s way too many titles on Scribd not on KU for me to just pick it over Scribd – I’m continuing to track how both work for me right now.

    But as Darlynne says, “The good news is that free-ish book = no regrets. What a relief.”

    Have signed up for your posts :-)

  23. Felipe Adan Lerma
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 06:48:35

    @Beret Brenckman:

    Beret, I’ve only recently re-begun acquainting myself with what libraries offer now, and found this article about interlibrary loans, hope this helps.

  24. Felipe Adan Lerma
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 06:55:57


    Statch, I’ve stuck with Scribd (among several reasons) because of their backlist of authors I like, like Michael Crichton and Janet Evanovich. The bigger publishers participating with Scribd just recently increased their backlist titles available and hopefully that’ll get even better.

  25. Felipe Adan Lerma
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 07:05:47


    Probably the article I’ve seen that’s sparked the most comments about your same question – literally hundreds of replies from librarians around the world – comment thread is incredible :

  26. Juli Monroe
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 07:43:28

    @Sunita, I had to chuckle when I read your comment that you find Oyster more aesthetically pleasing. I made that point in one of my articles on TeleRead and was roundly criticized for discussing the appearance of a piece of software. I knew my point was valid, and you just confirmed it. :)

    By the way, the latest update to the Scribd app looks lots better. They selected a better font and much better color choices. Oyster is still better looking, but Scribd closed most of the gap.

  27. Alison
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 08:30:43

    One problem with the library’s ebooks is that not all of them are available in Kindle format (yes, I read on a Kindle Keyboard.) And neither Scribd nor Oyster would work for me either.

  28. DigitalCzech
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 13:36:15

    You know Scribd works on Nook right? You’re comparison isn’t correct. And Oyster is $9.95/month

  29. Darlynne
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 21:24:28

    I decided to take a stroll through other categories in Kindle Unlimited. Beginning at the KU page, I chose scifi/fantasy, looked around for awhile, lost, and then turned to romance. My frustration with how to identify KU books continues. For example:

    I stumbled, literally, over KATHERINE by Anya Seton and eagerly clicked on the author’s link. In the list of available books on her author page, GREEN DARKNESS was not one of them, not even to buy, even though her other titles were there. But this made no sense, so I searched separately for GREEN DARKNESS. And there it was, available for purchase and also in KU.

    Whatever algorithm Amazon uses, the bottom line is that some books aren’t showing up in any context. Honestly, I’m just going to search for authors I like and see what might be available.

  30. Mick Rooney
    Jul 31, 2014 @ 22:12:02

    Excellent head to head, Jane, but the geo availability is a critical point relevant to all interested in these services.

  31. Chris @ Publishing Hero
    Aug 16, 2014 @ 04:26:02

    Nice job!

    (Speaking as a fellow blogger and NON-graphic designer, I can highly recommend the WP plugin TablePress. Free, creates tables from an Excel file or in-browser, and can be reorganized at will.)

  32. daniel
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 21:38:29


    Kindle Unlimited Sucks! Yes Kindle Unlimited Sucks, plain and simple, and there is now question about this .. At first I just thought it Sucks from an authors standpoint. A authors whose books wear selling pretty well in 20014 … Selling well until Amazon had the bright idea of this thing called Kindle Unlimited, a sort of Netflix for Books .. Well Kindle Books anyway. Kindle Unlimited is a monthly subscription service, whereby a subscriber can get unlimited downloads of Kindle Books on Amazon, 10 books at a time for the cost of $9.99 a month … If you’re an avid reader, this might sound good to you, good if you can get and read numerous books a month for $9.99 … Yes, good if you can get books, or more like, good if there was a good selection of books for you to get (Download) and read … But guess what my friends? The selection of books Sucks “Big Time.” There practically is none. The selection is “Pitiful” scandalous actually. Anyone who has signed up for the free month of Kindle Unlimited no-doubt already knows this. I don’t know what the figures are, but I’d wager to say that percentage wise the number of books available on Kindle Unlimited against the Total Number of Books sold on Amazon is far less than 1 % .. That’s dismal, to say the least .. Think I’ll see if I can find out the figure somewhere, and if one of you dear readers happens to know, please let me know by leaving a comment in the comment box. Thanks for that!

    Anyway, I first starting hating Kindle Unlimited in the beginning of the month (August 2014). Anyway last Christmas Season my book sales spike to pretty good numbers for the first time. Nice! Yes it was. The first 4 months of 2014 sales were so-so … Then all of a sudden in May 2014, sales of my book Sunday Sauce started spiking in a big way. They went from about 20 a month to more than 600 … I was loving it .. In June and July I was selling close to 850 units a month with about 50 borrows from Klindle Prime subscribers that are worth 2 Bucks a Pop .. Sweet! Then came the dreaded month of August 2014 … Dreaded for me anyway .. All of a sudden, my sales dipped overnight, and “Drastically” !!! My sales went from around 33 a day, down to a meager 3 ! “What The Fu_k ???” I didn’t know what hit me. Seriously, I didn’t .. I didn’t ever know what the Hell Kindle Unlimited was … I soon found out .. I went on the Forum for Kindle Select Authors and soon found out. A number of authors had seen sales drop dramatically as soon as Kindle Unlimited came on line. They were in the same boat as me .. Others were not. They were the fortunate ones, their sales had soared. Soared upwards that is .. Well goody for them, but not me and others. Some authors said their sales went down but their “Borrows” were up dramatically. Up enough for them to be happy .. But how bout us other guys? Guys (and Girls) whose sales not only went down, but went down drastically, and overnight? And all because of Kindle Unlimited .. I posted on the KDP Forum, “I Think I Hate Kindle Select.” I wasn’t really sure cause as a number of authors stated and suggested for everyone (authors) to wait and see when the dust settles.
    OK, so I would. I didn’t have a choice … I was reading some articles and forums about this whole KU thing and how it was affecting authors, either badly, like me, and for some, it was good. Amongst all the talk, some were thinking that if your book was priced at a higher price-point it might tend to attract KU Subscribers to download it more than over titles that were cheaper, like mine at just .99 Cents … The subscribers would feel like they were getting a better deal by getting more expensive books free as opposed to getting a cheaper book free. Makes sense to me!
    So I started experimenting. I had to get my sales up after the KU bashing. So I raised the Price to $9.99 hoping to attract more KU Subscribers to download my now more expensive book. Nothing !!! I tried putting it to $5.99, Nothing! So I put it back to .99 Cents and figured I’d wait out the storm …
    Well it’s August 31 and the first dreadful month of Kindle Unlimited is over .. But Kindle Unlimited is till there, and new subscriber will be going for the Free Month of KU .. Hey, I did myself. Mainly as an author who saw his Kindle Sales Aniolated as a result of Kindle unlimited, I wanted to get it to see how it all worked and what was available. Boy i’m glad I did. I signed up for my Free Month of Kindle Unlimited, went on and started looking for books. Guess what? Well I think you already know? There’s hardly anything there. I couldn’t find any books I wanted to read. Well a couple. But I don’t think I’ll even find ten. Why? You know. The selections Sucks. There’s hardly anything there. The selection is quite pitiful and I’d have to think the majority would agree, especially those who might read 6 or more books a month and thought KU might be a great deal. Not !!!!!
    So, I’d have to say, it looks highly likely, that eventually this thing called Kindle Unlimited will one day in the near future go the way of the Dodo Bird, and off into extinction .. Time will tell. What do you think?


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