Ebook Subscriptions – Aye or Nay?

Are you an e-book subscriber?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with ebook subscriptions, they are programs for ebooks that are similar to Netflix. For a monthly subscription fee, the reader gets access to ebooks in the service’s library. The authors get paid on a revenue-sharing basis based on a formula that allocates a portion of the total funds received for that month’s subscriptions.

One of the most well-known subscription programs is Amazon's Kindle Unlimited. In order to read an ebook from the Kindle Unlimited library, you need to be able to access the Kindle app either through an Amazon Kindle ereader or through the standalone Kindle app for mobile and desktop.

Books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited are also available for purchase on the Amazon website.

Outside of Amazon, there are several smaller subscription services. One service that is expanding is Kobo Plus. Kobo recently announced that it’s opening the Kobo Plus subscription service to readers in Canada.

A Reader’s Point of View

If you finish a lot of books in a month, a subscription service can be cheaper than buying books. The downside is that not all books for sale through the parent company will be enrolled in the subscription service. Your favorite authors might not be available through the service.

Also, the ebooks you access through a subscription service are not yours. You have the right to read the ebook, but once you're done reading, it’s removed from your device.

As a reader, my biggest pet peeve with the Kindle Unlimited program is that it demands exclusivity. That means ebooks enrolled in the program can’t be sold anywhere else. Including on the author’s website.

I’m a Kobo reader. I get incredibly frustrated when I listen to an interview with an author whose books sound interesting, only to learn that they’re enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

I also get ticked off when I hear authors say that Kindle Unlimited doesn’t exclude readers because anyone who wants to read the book can buy it from Amazon.

The issue here is that I don’t read ebooks on a Kindle. Expecting me to read a book on a Kindle device or a Kindle app is equivalent to saying that I can no longer make breakfast in my kitchen. Instead, I now have to go down the street to a neighbor who I have no relationship with and use their kitchen to make breakfast. Not gonna happen. 

Maybe some readers don’t mind having their ebooks spread across a number of platforms. Maybe they can keep track of which ebooks have been downloaded where.

I’m not one of them. I need the simplicity of having all of my ebooks in one place. My Kobo ereader.

Am I the only reader who prioritizes convenience? I doubt it. I’ve always felt that authors who say anyone can read their Kindle Unlimited books are naïve about how inconvenient it is to switch ebook platforms

An Author's Point of View

As an author, I have not enrolled my books in Kindle Unlimited.

Why?

First, as mentioned above, I only read ebooks on my Kobo. I want readers who buy through  Kobo, Apple Books, NOOK, and Google Play to be able to conveniently download my books.

Second, I don’t want Amazon having exclusive rights to my books. I refuse to give one company control of all my ebook revenue.

Kobo, on the other hand, doesn’t demand exclusivity for inclusion in its Kobo Plus program. Which is why I just enrolled all of my Kobo ebooks in Kobo Plus.

So, if you’re in Canada and have signed up for Kobo Plus, check out my ebooks.

If you read on another platform, my books remain available for purchase as usual.

An Alternative to Paid Subscriptions

Personally, as a reader, I don’t foresee signing up for a paid subscription service any time soon, despite reading a lot.

Why?

Because I have a library card and use it to access the majority of ebooks I read.

Ebooks that I check out via Overdrive sync to my Kobo ereader. Books that I check out through another library ebook provider I side-load onto my Kobo.

Either way, I’m still reading ebooks on my preferred platform.

Even readers who have Kindles can, in most cases, check out library books.

What about you? What is your preferred e-book reading platform? Are you enrolled in any subscription services? Does the idea of a subscription service appeal to you? Or, like me, are you a library reader?

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