Amazon Kindle vs Scribd: eBook subscription models compared
Is Amazon’s latest subscription model for eBooks as ground breaking as its other services?
E-books have been popular simply because people like the convenience of being able to read them on their phones, tablets and readers while traveling, during their lunch break or even before falling asleep, and don’t have to carry physical books. The library of e-books has been massive on services such as Amazon’s Kindle, Scribd, Kobo, Nook and Google’s Play Books.
Now, Amazon has launched the subscription service for Kindle users in India, where at a fixed monthly cost, users read from a collection over 1 million books.
Incidentally, another e-book service called Scribd was already offering a subscription service in India. We take a look at how the two compare.
Amazon Kindle Unlimited
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Kindle readers
Kindle Unlimited offers Kindle readers access to 1 million books without having to buy even one of them. For this, Amazon charges a monthly subscription fee of Rs.199 (at present, there is a limited time offer that charges a discounted rental of Rs.99 per month). In terms of the cost, Kindle Unlimited costs less than Scribd, but we feel that the former’s collection of books available for users in India is not as impressive as what they offer in the US and various European countries. While you will get to read Gone Girl and the entire Harry Potter series, most of the other titles aren’t exciting. We couldn’t find the Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish, which incidentally is available as a separate purchase on the Kindle store.
However, the biggest edge that Kindle Unlimited has over Scribd is that it works seamlessly across all Kindle apps and devices. Though its interface is clean and uncluttered, it is pretty basic—some of the images used in the book cover look blurry, but that isn’t a deal breaker. Amazon has a lot of work to do with Kindle Unlimited in India, and they can begin by bringing in more publishers, new books and audio books.
The unique bit about Scribd is that it began with the subscription-only model. It charges about Rs.624 per month and gives you unlimited access to 400,000 e-books, 50,000 audio books, and also comics on both mobile and desktop. Also, there is a huge stack of literary research papers on Scribd, mostly uploaded by users. It’s not as well organised as the ebooks and other categories but they can be really valuable to some users.
It has a busy but smartly tabulated interface—your current reading list shows on top, followed by new books and several other categories curated for readers according to their reading habits. For instance, if you are reading a book by Ernest Hemingway, the homepage will show a category on books by Hemingway with the entire collection of the writer’s work on the store. Searching for books is as much fun as reading them. Every book has a small excerpt followed by reviews from other readers.
However, when it comes to new launches it’s no better than Kindle Unlimited, but we like it as it has a good collection of rare books, which are not available on Kindle Unlimited, like Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, published in 1964. It is a novel about life in public schools in US in the 60s. The story is told through letters written by a young teacher to her friend, memos filed by her and conversations between students and the teacher.
Scribd carries books from all leading publishers such as Harper Collins, Macmillan. Their subscription is a bit costlier than Amazon, but the collection, variety and presentation gives it an edge over Kindle Unlimited.
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