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$9.99 a Month for Unlimited Books!!!!!!!

May 12, 2014
This is not an ad, I promise, but for $9.99 a month, all of this (and much more!) can be digitally yours.

This is not an ad, I promise, but for $9.99 a month, all of this (and much more!) can be digitally yours.

This is not an advertisement. When I watch the news and see a reporter talking about a brand new product, I change the channel. I watch the news for the news, not to watch a reporter give free(?) advertising to a product I’m probably not interested in. That’s what commercials are for. But that might just be me being grouchy.

Today I’m writing about a product, but I’m not confident about the product or its concept. I’m not endorsing the product that I’m writing about. When I write about a product to endorse it, it will probably be a product that I created, and I’m uncomfortable even doing that. If I’m uncomfortable trying to get others to spend money on stuff that I created, I definitely don’t want to waste effort getting others to spend money on somebody else’s stuff.

According to Publishers Weekly , ebook subscription provider Oyster (which I had never heard of) has added a bunch of new publishers to its service. I’m not interested too much in the details. I am intrigued, though, by the concept of paying $9.99 a month for an “unlimited” number of digital titles. It’s kind of like Netflix, only with books. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure it’s right for me.

First of all, Oyster and I might disagree slightly about the meaning of “unlimited.” Oyster says you have “unlimited access” to their books each month, but their selection is 500,000 books. That sounds like a limited number to me. I know I can’t read all 500,000 books, and I know that 500,000 books is a lot of books, but it isn’t “unlimited.” I’m pretty sure new books aren’t in Oyster’s selections, and that would put a limit on my usage. If there are millions of books out there, and Oyster has 500,000 books available, that’s less than 25% of books available, and that’s not really unlimited; it’s a good start.

The thing is, I get annoyed at people who use the same logic that I just used. I know exactly what Oyster meant when they said “unlimited.” You get “unlimited access” to their books. I know that. It’s clear in the article. That’s why the article used the phrase “unlimited access.” I probably shouldn’t obsess over the word “unlimited.” I don’t believe in  starting unnecessary arguments. Oyster used the term “unlimited access” correctly. I’m just guessing 500,000 books might mean the selection isn’t great for everybody.

$9.99 over 12 months means $120.00 a year. Yeah, I know that technically it would be $119.88 over a year, if I was completely literal and multiplied $9.99 by 12 instead of rounding up. I’m the type of person who estimates instead of doing precise math. If I were figuring this out on a spreadsheet, I’d use precise math, but I’m writing a blog post, so I’m estimating. If I were taking a test to get into (or out of) college, I’d use precise math and show my work, but I’m writing a blog post. When I write a blog post, I usually focus more on grammar, spelling, and punctuation than I do on precise math.

I also ramble sometimes.

Despite writing a blog about books, I don’t spend $120.00 a year on books. I don’t even spend $119.88 a year on books. So far this year, I have spent less than $30.00 on books, and I’ve read almost everything that I’ve desired to read. I bought two books at a used book store. I’ve read a bunch of free samples on my e-reader. I’ve purchased two really cheap books on my e-readers. And I’ve read a bunch of books from the public library. I can’t think of any book that I’ve wanted to read and haven’t been able to. My system works for me. At this rate, I’ll spend less than $75.00 on books this year.

However, this doesn’t include my daughters’ books. My daughters like new books, and I often buy them the new books they ask for because they usually read them. I spend between $20.00-$40.00 each month on new books for them. Maybe it would be worth it to get a subscription service so that my daughters could use it, but they don’t read digital books. They prefer real books. That’s great for the book publishers who might fear the possibility that young people will stop buying books. I don’t know if my daughters are an indication at all, but they don’t like digital books. They like tablets for games, videos, gossiping about each other, but they don’t like tablets for books. In a way, that’s too bad. They might have been able to save me a lot of money.


But enough about me! How much do you spend on books each year? How much would you be willing to pay each month for unlimited books? Is a selection of 500,000 titles enough to justify the cost? Do the “youth” whom you know prefer real books or digital books?  You can tell me.  I promise not to share any information with Google or Facebook.

  1. Veronica permalink

    I’ve got a kindle and Amazon Prime so I get one free book a month from the “lending library.” I have a friend who uses to download books. If there is something I really want to read and can’t get it through, I’ll buy the ebook version or used (if its cheaper than ebook and has great reviews…this way I can loan it to people). There is a great used book store next to the local library that sells paperbacks for 50 cents and hardbacks for a dollar.

  2. From a fellow rambler, I appreciate that you read the fine print on this because I would’ve been thinking exactly the same thing regarding “unlimited access.” I just started reusing my library card and it’s been great. Like you, I really don’t spend that much on books a year. I don’t think 500,000 books justifies $10 a month especially if they are digital titles.

    • According to the article, a lot of the e-books are the digital versions of real books. Various publishing companies are providing books, but not ALL of their books, which brings us back to the word “unlimited” again.

  3. Amy permalink

    Books are my one entertainment vice so I tend spend quite a bit throughout the year, but most of it is on books for series I collect. I also frequently buy used books spending anywhere between $0.10 to half of cover price or use an online book exchange, I also use my library quite often for what I want to read, helps that I work there and know the system. Most anything I want to read can be found there in print, e-format or I can borrow it from another library with Inter-Library Loan. So I probably won’t be signing up for any netbook like services soon.

    • Mooch? There’s a word I haven’t heard/seen in a while. I’ve missed “mooch.”

      I had never heard of Bookmooch, but I just looked at it. I kind of wish I had heard of it a few months ago when I took a bunch of books to the used book store. Bookmooch sounds like it could be fun. How much time does it take to organize, catalogue, and/or mail the books you trade/send?

  4. Amy permalink

    It doesn’t take long (30 mins to an hour), but I only post about 10 books at a time. They use the info over at amazon, so you enter a title or isbn # and follow the tabs to offer a book for trade, you can enter a condition description. Most books will be mooched within a day or two, another reason to only list 10 at a time lots of $ for postage at one time, send media mail. Grab some small package envelops at a $ store and wrap the book in a plastic grocery bag first and send it off. You can even create a wishlist and they will notify you when a book you want is available or you can browse recently listed for what looks interesting.

  5. If I was richer, I’d do this. I read about 4-5 books a month, so IF they were all new ones, this would be a good deal. However, since new books are more expensive, I usually read cheap or free ones or go to a used bookstore and get them for a dollar. Of course, if I had this, I would read a lot more new books, which might be nice.

    • I don’t know if reading newer books is that big a deal. I read a few new books earlier this year just to say that I’ve read new books this year, and now that urge to read new books has faded. But if were richer, I might change my mind too.

  6. Netflix streaming is “unlimited”, and probably has only 10-20% of the movies and shows that are out there. Yet it is more than enough to keep you next to the TV 24/7. So I think it could work for the books, too – realistically, you could only read 100-200 books in a year, so 500,000 is a lot.

    • I can read only 100 books or so each year, but I can pretend to have read more, especially if I have a bunch of them on my shelf. But getting books digitally doesn’t help me pretend (even though I don’t pretend anymore). It’s easier to watch a bunch of movies and TV shows than read a bunch of books. It all depends how good the selection of “unlimited access” is.

  7. Amount varies…libraries are a fairly low risk method of obtaining newer or established books at 0 cost. Prefer tactile feel of “old style books” versus kindle or e-versions. I think I could take that 9.99/mo and plug a few essential bills (groceries for example) equally effectively.

    • Do we want unlimited access to a limited number of books? Or limited access to an unlimited number of books? Did I phrase that question correctly? I think I’m like you; I’d rather have the limited access to an unlimited number of books.

  8. I may actually spend 120$ on books a year–I tend to do a lot of impulse buying of 1-3$ indie e-books. (Do I read them all? Not hardly.)

    Looking at the selection, I am seeing a lot of older books, publisher’s backlist and public domain titles. However, that does seem to include a lot of classics in genre fiction. They are offering a free month to new customers to try out the service, and I would be interested in trying it out–

    EXCEPT at the moment it seems to only be available on Apple equipment, and I don’t own anything made by Apple. I don’t see any “Android Coming Soon” notices on their website, either.

    • Apple? Only Apple? I didn’t see that. Then again, I didn’t look. I guess I’m not a potential customer anymore.

      • I think that is part of their marketing strategy, actually. Apple customers tend to be people who are willing to pay extra for convenience. There are a lot of ways to get free or sharply discounted e-books, but most of them require some file transfer and or conversion. A single library app like this one would make sense for people who would rather spend money than time.

  9. I spend about $200 a year, so if I wanted unlimited access for 120, I would get it. However, I don’t want unlimited access. I fear unlimited access.

  10. I’m pretty specific about what I read so I’ll either stumble upon a book on the internet or hear about it from a friend and if that book wasn’t part of my “unlimited access,” I’d be pissed off that I’d have to spend MORE money on books just like I’m pissed off when I want to watch a movie and Netflix doesn’t have it. So, no, I don’t think it’s worth it.

    • You’re right, that’d be a bad feeling, to spend that $9.99 a month and then want to read a bunch of books that you don’t have “unlimited access” to.

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