Updated: Subscription eBook Services Compared

Update for 18 July 2014: With Amazon having launched the Kindle Unlimited service this morning, it was high time that I updated this post to reflect the changed market.

The following post matches up 5 different services that are available in the US or globally:


  • Oyster offers 500,000 titles, but few are frontlist and few are bestsellers.
  • Amazon boasts that the Kindle Owner's Lending Library stocks over 550 thousand titles, most of which were added via KDP Select.
  • Scribd has a catalog of over 400,000
  • Kindle Unlimited has 650,000 titles at launch, many of which are also found in KOLL. There are also 7,300 audiobooks.
  • Bookmate offers 400,000 titles, but they tend to be concentrated in certain markets.


  • Oyster costs $10 a month for unlimited access.
  • Kindle Owner's Lending Library comes as part of an Amazon Prime membership, and in the US that costs $79 per year but includes other extras like free 2 day shipping and free streaming video. You are limited to borrowing a single ebook title each month.
  • Scribd costs $9 a month for unlimited access.
  • Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 for unlimited access, but limits you to only having 10 titles at a time.
  • Bookmate costs $5 a month, which is usually billed through a subscriber's cellphone company.


Oyster and Kindle Unlimited are only available in the US. Scribd is available globally, and the Kindle Owner's Lending Library is only available to Kindle owners in the US, UK, and other select markets.

Bookmate is technically available globally but the company is concentrating its attention on certain markets: Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. They plan to expand into Scandinavia and Latin America by the end of 2014.


  • Oyster launched their pilot with an iPhone app, and later released iPad and Android apps.
  • Scribd has iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and iPad apps, and you can read in your web browser.
  • Kindle Owner's Lending Library is only available on a Kindle.
  • Kindle Unlimited is available on any Kindle device or app.
  • Bookmate offers apps for Android and iOS.

6 thoughts on “Updated: Subscription eBook Services Compared

  1. Safari probably shouldn’t be in the list since it is really focused on the tech books and you can’t get those books on the other services.

    It’s also pretty expensive but compared to what tech books cost it might be a bargain for some folks.

  2. Pingback: APM Blog

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