Recently, a new subscription service has emerged: the one for readers. For about $9 a month, readers can access ebooks on their phones and computers. The two main competitors are Oyster Books and Scribd.
I had an Oyster subscription for about 6 months, and I have a free year-long subscription through Scribd for being a Smashwords author with my books available in the catalog. This is my review of both of them, so you as a reader can make a decision if they’re worth it!
Price and Volume
If you read four books a month through this service, that would be $2.00 – $2.25 a book. If you only read one a month, it’s not really worth it, if you could just buy that book elsewhere for the same price, which is totally realistic for both catalogs, which don’t generally include books that haven’t been released in paperback.
Scribd claims to have 100,000+ books while Oyster boasts 200,000+ books. Their catalogs seem to overlap a lot. I haven’t been with Scribd long enough to say whether the difference in numbers is a downfall. Just browsing their websites, I can see that Oyster has a bigger selection.
Edit: According to Carrie, Scribd’s Community Manager, “Scribd actually has 300,000 books (we’ve added significantly to our catalog as of late).” (see comments) Awesome!
Do not expect books that were released in the last couple years unless they’re provided through Smashwords. You can generally find the first in a popular series — for example, Partials by Dan Wells and Gone by Michael Grant. There are backlist titles from 20th century favorites such as Agatha Christie, Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Jeanine Frost, the Pioneer Woman, the 7 Habits series. There are plenty of “classics” too — The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Alice Walker, Lois Lowry, and CW Lwwis.
To be honest, both websites have great interfaces. They’re smooth, clean, and they load quickly. Whoever is on the design team should be winning awards or something — they’re pretty. The Scribd website is not great, but the mobile app is very attractive.
I have some pictures from the Scribd mobile app. Here you can see the sidebar, the search function, a book description, and the home page.
And the only pictures I thought to take from Oyster were of my own books — I took them for marketing reasons, not for general purposes, so bear with me! This shows the reading view (which you can switch to different color themes) and the search function.
With Scribd, you can read on your iOS device, your Android device, or on your browser. You can also login with your Facebook account.
With Oyster, they currently only have apps for your iPad and iPhone. This may be the biggest downfall. In my opinion, Oyster needs to hurry up and get their stuff together, because that could easily be a nail in their coffin with time. As far as I know, you can’t login with your Facebook account.
The results probably depends on the individual reader — Scribd is more accessible and has a bigger catalog. There’s only a dollar in price difference, so if you have an iOS device and you’re considering Oyster, the best way to decide would be to try out a free trial, which they both offer for a month, to decide which one is better for you. Good luck! Let us know what you think.
Emily Ann Ward is the author of Finding Fiona, Le Garde series, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. Aside from writing, she loves traveling and she’s the managing editor of the Rush line for Entranced Publishing. Currently, she lives in Oregon with her husband Chris and their cats. Visit her website at http://emilyannward.com