Thursday, October 3, 2013

Netflix for books -- here we go

By Steve Weddle

If you're tired of reading your ebooks for free, you'll be happy to know that a few new options allow you to pay for the service.

Years back, my local library had Rocket eBooks, these blocky things in cases, pre-loaded with dozens of books. You could check out the "Mystery" ereader and you're carrying 18 ebooks -- Evanovich and Connelly and Child so forth. There was a literary reader. A romance reader. Each one, loaded up with a different genre.

You couldn't check out individual ebooks, at least not near me.
You can now read near boats!!

Overdrive came along and provided an effective -- though cumbersome and clunky -- way to check out individual ebooks. They'll pop up on your Nook. You can load them up on your Kindle. Heck, you could probably even plop them onto your Sony eReader. Whatever you have, you can log in through your local library, and -- if the book isn't already checked out and if your library has it -- read a soon-to-be favorite.

Recently, Oyster has gotten into the mix, offering old books for your Apple phone. If you want to read something that they have -- limited to participating publishers -- you don't have to worry about whether someone else in your county has "checked out" the ebook. You can start reading, for only $120 per year. As Oyster says:
We created Oyster to evolve the way people read and to create more of the special moments that only books can offer. From anywhere a mobile device can go—a bustling subway car, a quiet coffee shop, or lost at sea with a Bengal tiger—our mission is to build the best reading experience, one that is both communal and personal, anytime, anywhere. 

Imagine being able to read anywhere. It's like a dream come true.

Ha. I kid because I love.  (Seriously, though. Selling your ebook service as "now giving you the ability to read anywhere" is kinda weird because, you know, um, books have been kinda portable for a while. I mean, for reals, it isn't like any of my books are those big dog bahama mama books the monks used to gild, you know?)

I hope Oyster does well. The nice folks at BookRiot seem to love it. The app is only available for the Apple phone now, but word is they'll be expanding soon. The interface looks lovely, if that's something that you're interested in.

And now news that Scribd and HarperCollins are teaming up to provide another ebook subscription serivce.

Amazon has offered its lending library to Prime users -- $79 a year -- for quite a while, too.

We have many, many options for borrowing books. Some I've missed mentioning, no doubt. Free from the library. Paid-subscription from other folks.

I suppose there's gold in them thar hills if companies are now getting onboard with it. Netflix for books. Spotify for reading. MySpace for auto detailing.


Jack Badelaire said...

$120 a year for a subscription service is a lot if you have any skill at all in hunting for good bargains. At $10 a month, if you join a couple of "daily deal" type services, you could easily find three $2.99 or lower deals a month in a genre you like.

Maybe these services will gain traction if they carry all the latest bestsellers and a lot of romance / mystery titles, but I'm a little doubtful that they'll capture a significant portion of the market without some serious advantages compared to someone simply finding cheap book deals.

David Cranmer said...

Yup. The ability of anywhere reading is a good thing.