Libraries on the go
E-book services have evolved to offer subscriptions with unlimited books. We look at some of them
The latest wave of the e-book revolution has adopted the subscription model, letting you read as much as you want for a regular fee. It is a bit like the library in your neighbourhood, where you do not have to worry about purchasing individual titles, but can go right ahead and borrow books for a monthly payment. So if you are running out of space on your e-book reader or simply do not want to pay every time you purchase an e-book, here are some apps and services that give you the option of reading as much as you want for a monthly subscription.
Scribd is one of the most versatile services of its kind, and on paper (pun unintended), actually delivers more than the competition. Of the over 500,000 books in the library, you can download up to 20 at a time, to read offline. And that’s not all. For, apart from getting you access to best-sellers and well-known titles, Scribd is also a bit of a writer’s network—you can share your own writings with other Scribd users. This is the most user-friendly of the apps in this list—it asks you about the kind of books you like and makes suggestions accordingly.
Available on: iOS and Android for Rs.550 a month. It offers more than 500,000 titles.
If your reading is more of the newspaper and magazine genre, this is the service for you. PressReader gives you access, without any restrictions, to newspapers and magazines from all over the world, including the Washington Post, The Guardian, most Indian main-line newspapers as well as publications from just about every continent, in a variety of languages. And these are exact digital copies of their paper counterparts, right down to the ads. You can download and keep as many as you want or simply discard the ones you have read.
Available on: iOS, Android and BlackBerry for $29.95 (around Rs.1,800) a month. It offers over 2,000 newspapers and magazines.
If you like comic book superheroes—Iron Man, Captain America and Thor and others from the Marvel Comics universe—then you need to hook on to the Marvel Unlimited service. The app will give you access to thousands of classic Marvel titles, allowing you to download a maximum of six at one time for reading offline. You will also get sneak previews of new titles and access to titles no longer in print, all of which have been reproduced so you can read them with minimum fuss on your phone and tablet.
Available on: iOS and Android for $9.99 a month.
This is currently not available in India, but is expected to make its way here towards the end of the year. But you can use this if you have a US account for the Apple App Store or Google Play store. It gives you access to a selection of titles, including some from Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins which are not available elsewhere easily. You can download up to 10 books at a time on to your device. There is a social networking element to the app too—you can follow people and get followers too. You can use it in India for a month free of charge if you access it from Kindle Fire.
Available on: iOS, Android and Kindle Fire at $9.95 a month. It offers half a million books.
It is not available in India yet but this is the one to look out for. Neither Scribd nor Oyster offer the kind of cross-platform compatibility that Kindle Unlimited does—not only is it available on just about every smartphone platform, it is also among the ones mentioned here that actually works on a classic e-book reader. Another feature that marks out Kindle Unlimited is that you can also choose from Amazon’s audiobook library, letting you listen to books being read out. A maximum of 10 books can be downloaded at a time for reading offline. A big catch, however, is the absence of titles from some notable publishers (Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins, for instance).
Available on:Kindle e-book readers, Kindle Fire, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone at $9.99 a month. It offers more than 600,000 titles.
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