Other Places to Find Good Books: Subscription Services

Other Places to Find Good Books:
Subscription Services

This is an informal series. 

Part 1: Kobo
Part 2: Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple Books
Part 3: Ask an AI
Part 4: Smashwords
Part 5: Subscription Services
Part 6: Fiction Apps
Part 7: BookFunnel & StoryOrigin
Part 8: Book Bundlers


It has been a while since I added to this series, but let’s check out another source of books:  Subscription Services. 

These are services that ask you to pay a flat monthly fee, usually quite low, and in exchange, you can read all the books you want that they have in their catalogue.

The most well-known of these services in Kindle Unlimited.  There is also Scribd, and Kobo Plus.  There are other, less well-known services, which I hesitate to mention because I can’t recommend them.

All subscription services must figure out a way to pay authors when readers read their books.  How they pay authors, and how much they pay authors, must come to a total that is less than the amount of subscription fees they take in, or the model doesn’t work.

Therefore most subscription services pay authors very little per read of one of their novels.  Author rely on readers reading a great many of their books as they don’t have to pay for them, in order to make money.

The model can be shaky, which is why only the much larger subscription services manage to do well, or to last long.  Yet they all have their drawbacks.

Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited has thousands of books available, and all of them cannot be found anywhere ouside Amazon.  That makes Kindle Unlimited very attractive.

This exclusivity is tough on authors, though, who must rely purely upon Amazon to earn their money.  Therefore many authors choose not to go into Kindle Unlimited. 

The books available in Kindle Unlimited are therefore…well, limited.  Not every book in the world can be found there.  After a while you might find that you’ve plumbed the depths of a particular category of stories and must wait for authors who are in the program to publish new books.  

Scribd

Authors can offer their books for Sribd to include in their purely subscription only reader service, and Scribd will decide whether to include the book or not.  This beccomes a problem if you’re reading romance. Scribd severely limits the number of romance stories on offer, because that is the genre with the “whale” readers, who read so many books in a day or week, that the fees Scribd must pay to authors quickly outgrows the subscription price the reader has paid. 

So you will not find many romance titles on Scribd. 

Nor will you find complete series.  Scribd occassionally picked up one of my books to include in their service, and it was usually book 3 or 7 or so forth, in a series, when they hadn’t taken any of the previous books. 

I never earned more than pennies from Scribd, and have stopped offering my books for their service. I know a great many other authors who feel the same way.

Therefore, the books on offer at Scribd you might find quite limited.  But if you like reading outside romance, you may enjoy the books on offer there. 

Kobo Plus

Kobo Plus is the second largest subscription service currently available in the English speaking world.  Its greatest pro for authors is that it does not insist upon exclusivity.  Authors can publish their books anywhere else they want to, plus pick up subsciption fees from Kobo Plus.

Not every author publishing on Kobo also puts their books into Kobo Plus, but a large number do (including me), and as more and more readers subscribe, more and more authors will be tempted to join the program, too.  Therefore the books on offer via Kobo Plus include books that are not available via Kindle Unlimited.   

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As you can see, the major problem with subscription services is the range and number of books they have to offer via that service.  However, if you combine services, you will have a huge number books available to read.  For example, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and Kobo Plus, you’re covering nearly every published book available, between them, and as time goes on, there will be less and less books not subscribed in one or the other.

However.

While the idea of a smorgasbord of free books sounds wonderful, if you do not read a great many books quickly, a subscription service might not be for you.  For example, Kobo Plus’ monthly fee for US residents is $7.99 a month.  The average romance book is $2.99.  You have to read at least three books a month to make the subscription service worthwhile.  If you are subscribed to two services, you need to read twice as many books in a month if you don’t want to lose money.

There are many readers who read that many books a day or per week.  But not everyone is able to consume books in such large numbers.  Buying books as you go might end up being more economical in the long run.  

Do the math before you dive into the sea of lovely books just waiting for you to download them.

 

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