The 6 Best Ebook Subscription Services, Compared | MakeUseOf

Many ebook subscription services offer unlimited access to ebooks for a monthly fee. Here are the best ones, compared!

Internet subscription services are the future. They offer unlimited streaming of media for a flat monthly rate, offering some of the best entertainment value around. But what about an internet subscription for literature?

Ebook subscription services have been around for a while now, and if you're an avid reader, if you don't use one, you're missing out. These are the best ebook subscription services that will satisfy your need to read.

Some scoff at the idea of paying a monthly fee to read books. Sure, if you aren't a big book reader to begin with, then you probably won't benefit much from subbing to an ebook subscription service.

Before you decide on an online book subscription, the three most important questions to ask yourself are:

  1. How many books do you read per month?
  2. Which genres do you prefer to read?
  3. Which ebook devices do you have available?

If you rarely read, you probably can't justify the monthly fees. If you read in obscure genres, you may not find anything interesting. And depending on which devices you have or where you live, you may not even be able to use some of these services.

Regardless, you should always check your local public library first. Most libraries offer free ebook rentals, which is best for one-off readers. Obscure genre readers and readers who prefer new releases are often better off buying ebooks as and when they want them.

But for those who fall somewhere in the middle, ebook subscriptions can be extremely worthwhile. Here are the best ebook subscription services that are worth checking out...

Scribd was originally launched 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.

In 2013, Scribd launched its subscription service which granted users access to Scribd's entire library for a monthly fee. The best part is, you get access to magazines, newspapers, and audiobooks in addition to Scribd's massive collection of books.

  • Price: $10/month for unlimited reading
  • Free Trial: Yes, 30-day free trial
  • Selection: Over 1 million ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines
  • Books Per Month: Unlimited
  • Platforms: Web, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook devices
  • Regions: Worldwide, though some ebooks are unavailable in some regions

2. Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited eBook Subscriptions

Kindle Unlimited offers the largest selection of ebooks for a moderate price, but also comes with free unlimited audiobooks with Audible narration. You can seamlessly swap between reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks. Better yet, it also lets you browse the latest issues of popular magazines.

Unfortunately, the "Big Five" publishing houses (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster) have all declined to participate. This is one of the reasons why some people think Kindle Unlimited isn't worth the money, as you may not be able to find some of the ebooks you want to read.

  • Price: $10/month for unlimited reading
  • Free Trial: Yes, 30-day free trial
  • Selection: Over 1 million ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines
  • Platforms: Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire
  • Regions: Available in most major countries

3. Bookmate

Bookmate eBook Subscriptions

Bookmate is a mobile reading app with an accompanying ebook-reading subscription. Since its launch in 2010, Bookmate has seen tremendous success in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). So much so that it has expanded to Scandinavia, Singapore, Indonesia, and parts of Latin America.

Two unique aspects of Bookmate include its social element (follow friends to see their feeds and bookshelves) and the fact that you can upload your own EPUBs and FB2 ebooks and sync them across all of your devices.

  • Price: $10/month for unlimited reading
  • Free Trial: No
  • Selection: Over 1.8 million ebooks
  • Platforms: Web, Android, iOS, Windows Store
  • Regions: N/A

4. 24symbols

24symbols eBook Subscription Service

24symbols is the only service on this list that offers a discounted rate for a one-year-at-a-time subscription, essentially making it the cheapest option by a significant amount. If you're looking for value, you'll find it here.

In addition to having an expansive collection of fiction and nonfiction books, it also offers comics and graphic novels. Upon signing up to the site, you'll also get access to 24symbols' active community of readers.

  • Price: $9/month or $90/year for unlimited reading
  • Free Trial: No
  • Selection: Over 1 million ebooks and audiobooks
  • Platforms: Web, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, BlackBerry
  • Regions: N/A

5. Kobo Plus

Kobo Plus Ebook Subscription Service

It would be awesome if all Kobo owners could take advantage of this ebook subscription service, but Kobo Plus is only available in a select few countries. At the time of writing, Kobo Plus is only available in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada.

Despite the regional limitations, the service has seen resounding success, so if you live in either country, it may be the best option for you.

  • Price: $10/mo for unlimited reading
  • Free Trial: Yes, 30-day free trial
  • Selection: Hundreds of thousands ebooks and audiobooks
  • Platforms: Web, Android, iOS, Kobo devices
  • Regions: Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands

6. ComiXology Unlimited

Comixology Ebook Subscription Service

If comics are more your thing, there's an unlimited ebook subscription for that too. ComiXology was purchased by Amazon in 2014, and has since grown exponentially.

With ComiXology Unlimited, you'll get access to thousands of comics from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, and many more. But if you're more of a Marvel fanatic, then you might want to read our article pitting ComiXology vs. Marvel Unlimited.

  • Price: $6/month for unlimited reading
  • Free Trial: Yes, 30-day free trial
  • Selection: Over 25,000 digital comics
  • Platforms: Web, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire
  • Regions: The United States

As far as plans go, Scribd is the best option overall. It's an affordable service with a wide selection of ebooks. Plus, it isn't boycotted by the "Big Five" publishers, and it's available worldwide with partial restrictions for some regions.

Bookmate and Kindle Unlimited are also solid ebook subscription services if you don't like Scribd. They're both priced the same, and while Kindle Unlimited has the larger selection, it's only available in some countries. 24symbols is a strong runner-up to Bookmate.

And while Kobo Plus shows promise, its regional restriction makes it all but useless for most of the world. Lastly, ComiXology Unlimited is best reserved for avid comic book readers.

If you want to add more ebooks to your collection, just keep in mind that you don't necessarily need a subscription. Plenty of sites offer free ebook downloads that you should definitely take advantage of.