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Is There Really A Netflix for Books?

netflix of books oyster vs scribdI read a lot. As in over 100 books a year. I’m also a chronic insomniac, and yes, those two things are highly related. I make no claim to reading gorgeous and inspiring literary fiction; I’m a popcorn reader, concentrating on mysteries, science fiction and paranormal fantasy.

For years I used libraries for my reading habit, and while I’m still a huge lover of libraries and paper books, I’ll confess that I’ve gone 100% digital in the last few years. Even bargain shopping, I’m still spending a fair amount on books each month. So you can imagine my excitement when I spied an ad for Oyster Books on Facebook (finally, Facebook is good for something) telling me that it is the “Netflix for books.”

A little digging around the internet promptly revealed that Oyster is also joined by the digital database Scribd in offering a subscription-based option for reading books. Amazon Prime also offers the ability to read a couple of free books a month. (And, in many people’s opinions, will likely end up dominating the books-via-subscription model).

The problem with both Oyster and Scribd is that they both have a fairly small collection only about 100,000 books each and a pretty similar price point ($9.95 for Oyster, $8.95 for Scribd). Personally, I found the book selection at Oyster to be preferable, but that’s because they had a larger selection of the books I prefer. I eagerly signed up for a free month at each service (they do take your credit card information, but don’t bill you until the end of 30 days), but I’m already fairly certain that Oyster will be the service I keep.

Oyster recently received an additional $14 million in funding, which is remarkable considering they only launched their app in September (currently only available for iOS, sadly). They plan to use the fund to expand their offerings (and hopefully develop an Android app), and they claim publishers are signing up quickly. For the record, Scribd does have an Android app which is also rapidly expanding their collection, as well.

I doubt that Oyster will fulfill all my reading needs; there are many authors I love that have new books coming soon that I will probably buy from Amazon directly (neither Oyster nor Scribd offers new releases). But, I’ve already spotted a dozen titles I’m looking forward to reading. What do you think? Are books-by-digital-subscription up your alley?

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