As a book lover, I’m excited about the different ways technology has made it convenient for avid book readers, especially with ebook subscription services. We can read on our phones while we’re on the subway, we can immediately download the next in an addictive series while we’re in the carpool line, we can search for our favorite quotes instantly. I love all of it.

Now that ereader subscription services are finally becoming a viable option, here’s a breakdown of three of our top favorites so you can see which is right for you..

eReatah ebook subscription service | Cool Mom Tech

eReatah’s signature feature is their recommendation system. It uses sophisticated algorithms to recommend books you’ll love. But eReatah is more like a book club; you’re paying in advance for two (or more, depending on your subscription) digital books each month. So you get to keep these files as long as you want. Their notable publishing partners are Simon & Schuster, IPG, Ingram, and Workman (plus others), and eReatah offers each publisher’s entire catalog—not just a few titles. Plus a social component is coming soon, so if you like discussing and sharing your book selections, this could be right for you, though the pricing is way higher than the comparable services.

Book Selection: 90,000 books
: $14.99/month for 2 books, up to $27.99/mo for 4
Keep your books: Yes
Lend your books: No
Read Offline: Yes
Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Who can subscribe: US only
Gift Subscriptions: Not easily; contact them through their website for gift info.

VERDICT: This is the option for you if you want to buy (and keep) your ebooks.



Scribd started as a crowdsourced arena for user-uploaded, sharable content and now has moved to a subscription service for readers. They boast that they are the largest library in the world, larger even than the Library of Congress with some 40 million titles, from NYT best-sellers to classics, along with public documents and user uploaded files like term papers, self-published books, and printables. They’ve partnered with Harper Collins to make their backlist titles (i.e., not new releases) available, and they’ve been connected to Random House and Simon & Schuster as well. But any author or publisher can make their content available on Scribd which keeps it growing. With Scribd (and Oyster, below) you have unlimited access to their entire library, but you can only access those books while you have a subscription.  You don’t own the digital files, so they’re gone with the membership is gone.

Book Selection: 100,000 books and more than 40 million written works and documents
Price: $8.99/month for unlimited books, with some only available for separate purchase.
Keep your books: Only book downloads you have paid for (separate from the subscription service)
Lend your books: Only downloads you have paid for
Read Offline: Yes
Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle
Who can subscribe: Worldwide except where blocked.
Gift Subscriptions: Yes

VERDICT: Affordable choice if you want access to more than top books.

Oyster app | Cool Mom Tech

We like this service so much we included a gift subscription in our Holiday Gift Guide this year. Oyster’s prices are similar to Scribd, though they have a much smaller library. Still, they have a dedicated focus with many of the top publishers, like Harper Collins, Houghton Mifflin, Workman, and others participating, and curate certain selections, not entire catalogs. Like eReatah, Oyster keeps track of what you’re reading and offers personalized recommendations. And like Scribd, you’re paying for unlimited access to borrow books from their library, rather than buying digital files like you do with eReatah. So the books are gone when your subscription ends. I think the app has a beautiful interface that lets you enjoy the experience more than the others. The downside—it’s only available for iOS at the moment; Android is planned for 2014.

Book Selection: 100,000+ books
Price: $9.95/month for unlimited books with a 30-day free trial
Keep your books: No
Lend your books: No
Read Offline: Yes (they’ll store up to ten books for offline reading)
Platforms: iOS 7
Who can subscribe: US only
Gift Subscription: Yes.

VERDICT: If you’re an Apple user, this may be the new gold standard in ereader subscriptions for readers who are all about the best books.

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