help me consider ebook subscription services?
August 25, 2015 7:22 AM   Subscribe

i'm switching to ebooks exclusively rather than my usual combo of library ebooks/piles of library books. i'm looking into netflix-for-ebooks kind of options.

i'd really like to find a paid book-subscribing service that might supplement my library options. my (chicago) library is great, but for me, their ebook selection is insufficient to use exclusively.

i'm aware of gutenberg and have looked around at free ebooks from time to time without finding much of interest. i very rarely buy books--i don't often feel a need to reread/keep what i've read. the volume of reading i do means i'd prefer a service that doesn't limit titles--i'd want 5-15 books/month (or the option of that many--i read multiple books at a time, or put one aside if i'm not in the mood, or discard stuff not to my liking, as well as reading a lot).

i strongly prefer the e-ink readers for reading books, which rules out oyster (which seems to require a tablet or smartphone). i'd considered getting a kindle (i currently have a nook simple touch) and doing amazon unlimited, but after a quick search i'm less than impressed by their selection--i'd assumed it would be much better.

i had a friend who converted an e-ink nook to an android tablet, but it turned out awkward and blinky, didn't seem very usable. that was a while ago--maybe it's more possible to make a workable conversion now? oyster might be a good option, if it was possible with e-ink.

any suggestions/personal experiences that might help? thanks.
posted by JBD to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I know you said you want a paid service, but can you expand on why you're not starting with Overdrive via your local library? It's free, pretty much all-you-can-read, and they have a great catalogue, including new releases.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:31 AM on August 25, 2015

My guess is that the OP would prefer a paid service in order to avoid the wait lists for library books. I find it pretty difficult to find e-books I can check out from Overdrive on the spot, even when I'm not looking at new releases.
posted by Kriesa at 8:02 AM on August 25, 2015

I love, love, love BookBub! Every morning I get an email with about 7 titles, at least 2-3 of which are completely free. I just click on the titles I want to download them (I only ever get the free ones).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:03 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

In your shoes, I'd be considering one of the new nook androids-- or any android-- and oyster. I much prefer e-ink, but my partner has a nook tablet and his own account. I read his stuff on that and it's really not too bad. You're right, converting a simple touch to an android still does not give good results.
posted by BibiRose at 8:05 AM on August 25, 2015

My above answer assumes you don't blog about books, or review heavily, or anything. People who are active in some way like that generally take advantage of Netgalley and/or some of the other ARC services available to book professionals. But reading a lot of ARCs is not necessarily what you want to do if you are a purely recreational reader, anyway.
posted by BibiRose at 8:13 AM on August 25, 2015

I have a Kindle Paperwhite, but I'm also an Oyster subscriber, and I read on my iPad Mini. I do prefer the e-ink, but Oyster's selection is so great that I deal with the iPad.
posted by anotheraccount at 9:10 AM on August 25, 2015

Have you looked at Scribd? I was using it for audiobooks, but they've got a very wide selection, and they don't autoreturn things the way overdrive does.

(full disclosure: that's my referral link.)
posted by Cracky at 9:16 AM on August 25, 2015

Can you get more library cards? Perhaps a card from the big city library if you live in the suburbs, or from a suburban library if you live in the city? Most libraries do use Overdrive, but not all Overdrive selections are created equal.
posted by yarntheory at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2015

Best answer: I also live in Chicago and can echo that the Overdrive selection here is surprisingly limited. However, my employer is in Philadelphia and I pay city taxes there, so I also qualify for a free Philadelphia Free Library card and can tell you that Philadelphia's Overdrive selection is much, much bigger than Chicago's. Philly is also one of a small number of libraries that will let nonresidents pay (currently $50 annually) for a library card without ever having to show up in person to verify your account, so it's worth considering yarntheory's suggestion to look into membership in other libraries, even nonlocal ones! You might be able to get most of the books you want at a cheaper price than going with a paid service - though with the tradeoff of wait lists for many books.

I found this short list of libraries that let you get cards without appearing in person (no idea how exhaustive it is), and you should be able to do test searches on their Overdrive catalogues to get a sense of whether they have more of the books you're looking for than Chicago does. Philly is the only one I can comment on personally; I don't find every single book I want to read there, but I find most of them (vs. almost none of them through Chicago). This is Philadelphia's Overdrive page and this is their library card info page.
posted by jessypie at 10:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Sorry for this not being a direct answer but have you poked around on Mobile Read? I usually check there for ebook related needs.
posted by oneear at 11:12 AM on August 25, 2015

Seconding Scribd. I got it for an academic resource and have kept it this year. The selection is very good, but not exhaustive. It's easy to use and has audiobooks, too.
posted by mrfuga0 at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2015

I love Scribd, but if audiobooks matter to you, I just got an email a couple of days ago that they are dropping their unlimited audio availability. They will in the future have a segregated list, some available for free and some available for an $8 credit (one a month free). I am super bummed about this.
posted by instamatic at 4:06 AM on August 26, 2015

Response by poster: it's really too bad that Oyster is retiring their service--it seemed the best option. i'll try it out anyway, til it's done. and look into alternate libraries as well.

articles talking about other options seem to reach similar conclusions to this thread.
posted by JBD at 12:36 PM on September 24, 2015

Response by poster: i was unimpressed by oyster's selection for some genres, and their in-browser reading did not work well with my computer (i was still uncertain about an android device, wanted to try oyster first).

so i'm less disappointed than i expected that they're shutting down.

i joined some extra libraries, am loving having better selection & numbers of checkouts/holds. and i'm happy to give money to libraries!
posted by JBD at 8:26 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

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