The Netflix of Books

I love Netflix. My family, who enjoys my account for free, loves it too (that was me being sassy). The service is less than ten dollars. I have unlimited access to as many movies and television shows as I want, which becomes particularly dangerous during finals. Netflix allows me to rewatch movies I used to own on VHS without purchasing a new copy; it allows me to find lesser-known titles, hidden jewels. Now a few Netflix-like services are beginning to appear for books.

While there may be more of these services, this post will focus on two: Scribd and Oyster. The two are very similar, so lets take a moment to talk about their differences.

Scribd Screenshot


  • Available for $8.99 per month
  • Offers personalized recommendations
  • Compatible with most platforms: iOS, Android, tablets, and web browsers
  • Synced between devices so you can always start where you left off
  • Ability to read bookmarked titles on or offline
  • Offers thousands of bestselling titles, new releases, and more
  • Access to the millions of user-contributed works published on Scribd
  • Available worldwide
  • Contracts made with publishers and authors

Oyster Screenshot (2)


  • Available for $9.95 per month
  • Offers personalized recommendations
  • Compatible with only iOS devices
  • Ability to read last ten books opened offline
  • Offers thousands of bestselling titles, new releases, and more
  • Available only in the US and customers with US credit cards
  • Contracts made mainly with publishers

For the sake of honesty, I am not sure that I will use either of these services in the near future. Not because they aren’t valuable tools, or as amazing as Netflix. I’m sure they are both of those things, but, as I’ve written in posts before, I have yet to jump on the e-book bandwagon. I prefer my books in print–mainly in hardcover–and I can’t see that changing any time soon. With that said, I researched both services and have to say that I would be more inclined to sign up for Scribd.

Scribd is cheaper. Granted, it’s only a dollar less, but that’s twelve dollars of savings over the entire year. For someone living frugally, like me, that’s two slices of pizza, four hot mochas from Starbucks, ten train tickets. I could keep going, but the point is, it’s money better spent elsewhere. Scribd is more available, in more than one sense. It can be used on more devices, and unlike Oyster (which can be used abroad if you are willing to pay roaming charges), Scribd can easily be accessed abroad without using any data by bookmarking titles beforehand. But the main reason I’d choose Scribd? They seem to care more about authors–even if they aren’t on the bestseller’s list. Users can submit their own pieces, allowing Scribd’s eighty million users to discover their work. Partly because lesser-known authors can submit their work, the website’s catalog is larger than the Library of Congress:

“Scribd has more than 40 million free books and documents contributed by users, and nearly doubles in size every year.”

With that said, both Scribd and Oyster offer a free thirty-day trial. So why not try both and decide for yourself?



  1. Felipe Adan Lerma

    this is a nice review of both ebook services, and i’d never even thought about using them like when in europe, so glad you brought that up

    am wondering if, when using a free wifi, ala starbucks or macdonalds, if roaming charges are averted

    and if, once a book is downloaded for reading, it’s available without further internet use, like the kindle

    all part of a much interesting march into the future of reading; thanks so much melanie 🙂

    1. Melanie Figueroa

      Thank you for your feedback. 🙂 From what I have been researching, you can bookmark titles that you want to read using Scribd and access them without wifi, so you wouldn’t be using any data or getting any roaming charges. However, I’m not sure you can do the same thing with Oyster. Their website made it seem as though you can open any of the titles you’ve already opened in the past without using wifi, but then in a different section of the website they said that if you went abroad you would still get roaming charges.

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