Scribd, AKA the “Netflix for books,” is a dominant player in the ebook and audiobook subscription services arena. But despite its dominance in the market, Scribd is hit-or-miss. Contrary to what’s being marketed, you don’t get unlimited titles. So if you’re thinking of switching to other options, you’re in luck — I have a list of Scribd alternatives that offer a wide range of genres from science fiction and romance, to comics and academic. There are a few options here for different kinds of readers.
These services also offer subscription plans like Scribd. Some are even cheaper, and they give you much more for less! Just like Scribd, they have their own apps, too. And if you don’t feel like fully committing now, some of these apps also offer trial plans to see how they work.
Without further delay, here are eight Scribd alternatives to try now:
Kobo Plus is the ebook subscription service of Kobo. Currently, it’s only available in Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands. If you’re living in those countries, you can try it for free for 30 days, and you can browse its catalog of 200,000+ titles. Unless you cancel, Kobo will charge you $9.99 CAD after that.
On Kobo Plus, you get to read as many ebooks as you’d like from the dedicated Kobo Plus tab on the Kobo Store. What you get from this subscription depends on the Kobo Plus catalog, which features a lot of genres and backlist titles.
Kobo Plus has a lot of romance and thrillers. You’ll know when a title is available to borrow when you see the label “Free with Kobo Plus” alongside an ebook.
I find Kobo Plus a competitive contender to Scribd — just don’t expect newer titles and ebooks from buzzworthy authors. It’s one of the best Scribd alternatives out there. There are a lot of choices for the casual reader, and for those who don’t always want to read the latest releases. It’s also a great service for young adult, romance, science fiction, and fantasy readers. I just wish they were available to more countries.
Bookmate is an ebook, audiobook, and comics subscription service based in Ireland. And unlike Kobo Plus, it seems to be available everywhere. It costs $8.99 USD per month, and you can choose from up to 500,000+ titles in different languages. Aside from English, Bookmate has local catalogs in Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Swedish. And like Scribd, it features curated lists.
Though it’s available everywhere, it has fewer titles from the United States. What I noticed is that its catalog features more books published in Europe. There are a handful of bestseller titles from the U.S. as well, but some of them are not currently available for borrowing; Bookmate’s contracts with the publishers have already expired.
Bookmate’s audiobook selection, however, is very limited. You won’t find a lot here. The titles in its bestseller audiobook list are mostly not from the catalogs of the Big Five publishers. One thing more, its comics selection is so scant.
Bookmate is marketed as a “market leader in Russia,” so it’s clear that it’s aimed at a European audience. I don’t recommend Bookmate if you want ebooks published in the U.S. Lastly, some of Bookmate’s ebooks have the possibility to disappear from their database, and that means you won’t get to reread them, or own your ebooks.
24symbols, which has been called the “Spotify for books,” launched in 2011. The service costs $8.99 USD per month, and you can choose from over 500,000 ebooks and audiobooks in 11 languages.
Just like the previously mentioned subscription services, backlist titles make up most of its catalog. There are many ebooks in the romance, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, and the fiction genre. In the young adult section, however, there’s very little to choose from.
The monthly subscription includes audiobooks. The choices, however, are so meager that there isn’t much to look at aside from classics.
24symbols doesn’t offer a free trial, so you won’t be able to see how it works before paying. Still, you can check out the future releases section to get a feel for their service. Their team also does a weekly roundup of ebooks that have caught their attention, and it’s a great place to start if you want to explore what 24symbols has to offer.
For a voracious reader who always wants the latest releases, I find 24symbols disappointing. Still, it can attract casual readers.
Kindle Unlimited works a lot like Kobo Plus and Scribd, except that it’s available in many countries. There’s a dedicated page to see the ebooks currently available in the said service. You’ll see which titles are eligible for borrowing when you see the “Kindle Unlimited” logo on top of them.
Among this list, Kindle Unlimited has the largest number of ebooks available. For $9.99 USD per month, you can choose from over 1.5 million titles. Like the others, Kindle Unlimited has a lot of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, suspense, and romance titles. Most ebooks are from independent authors, and the majority of the titles are backlists. There’s a small selection of nonfiction titles, too, but most are in the lifestyle section.
Also included in Kindle Unlimited are Amazon Originals, wherein they publish exclusive ebooks. Another thing is that this service offers digital magazine issues. According to the fine print, you can keep up to three digital magazine subscriptions at a time. Just like ebooks, you can only choose from a pool of magazine issues available.
Though not widely advertised, the monthly subscription also includes audiobooks. It’s actually difficult to find audiobook titles that are available to borrow in Kindle Unlimited. So to get you started, here’s a list of 50 Free Audiobooks in Kindle Unlimited and here’s how to look for more.
What’s lacking in Kindle Unlimited is a good selection of young adult titles. Still, among the best Scribd alternatives, Kindle Unlimited remains at the top.
Storytel is currently available in many countries in Europe and Asia (and in several languages as well).
Storytel’s combined catalog is over 300,000 titles. The subscription price depends on the country where it’s available. For India, it costs ₹149 per month for the Select option, which includes unlimited access to audiobooks and ebooks in more than ten regional languages except English, and ₹299 per month for the Unlimited option, which includes unlimited access to audiobooks and ebooks in English and regional languages. In the case of Singapore, subscriptions start at $12.98 SGD per month.
Storytel’s catalogs are localized per country. For example, in India, it offers Indian classics on top of the regular titles. And of course, some ebooks are translated, as with the case in Germany, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. In a nutshell, every country has a different catalog, so the ebook and audiobook selections will vary depending on where one lives.
Like Kindle Unlimited, Storytel also has Storytel Originals through which they usually publish exclusive audiobooks.
Storytel is a great service for European and Asian users, but not for those outside of those areas.
Though Scribd also has a comics section, the choices are not plentiful. Enter comiXology, a dedicated online comics store. And since it’s also part of the Amazon family, it offers a wide range of titles. It even releases comic issues every day!
ComiXology Unlimited, its subscription service, is Kindle Unlimited for comics and the like. If you’re a heavy comics reader, this might be a great option for you. It costs $5.99 USD per month, and allows you to browse over 25,000 digital comics, graphic novels, and manga.
Members also get 10–15% off all titles from publishers like Marvel Comics, Image Comics, IDW Publishing, Dynamite, etc., even on new releases.
You can find eligible titles to borrow when you see the comiXology Unlimited logo. ComiXology is currently offering a free trial for interested users. If you don’t want to do that, however, you can still take advantage of its free comics selection, which includes titles like The Walking Dead and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
ComiXology Unlimited is only available in the U.S. for now.
Harlequin Romance Ebook Subscription
This publisher’s ebook subscription services are divided into ten, which include different romance sub-genres/topics: desire, heartwarming, historical, intrigue, presents, romance, romantic suspense, special edition, love inspired, and loved inspired suspense. Some of these services are also divided into two: avid reader and casual reader. Each subscription gives readers two free ebooks per month, chosen from a pool of available titles. There’s also a discount of around 19–25% when you buy in its store.
Subscription starts at $12.99 USD per month. At first glance, this service seems very generous, considering the price. However, according to the fine print, the ebooks are automatically delivered on the first of every month. That means you don’t get to choose which ones you’d like.
Harlequin’s catalog, though, is massive. And if you’re a heavy romance reader, the choices won’t disappoint you; there’s an ebook for every romance reader.
ProQuest Academic Complete
Scribd allows user-uploaded content, and sometimes, these are academic in nature. In fact, Scribd has helped me during my college days with its free academic papers for research. The academic content there, however, really depends on what users upload, and it’s not always reliable.
In terms of academic material, ProQuest belongs to the list of the best Scribd alternatives.
If you’re a student, teacher, or researcher, there’s an all-in-one academic ebook subscription called ProQuest Academic Complete that offers academic ebooks in a wide range of fields. This service boasts unlimited access to 202,000+ academic titles, and it’s the most comprehensive one I’ve personally tried. But if you only need one area of study, you can avail of their individual ebook subscriptions: business; university press; reference; education; literature & language; arts; health & medicine; science & technology; history; diversity, equity, and inclusion; social sciences; law; religion & philosophy; and Canada.
The only downside is that ProQuest has a steep learning curve; it works differently from the mainstream ebook subscription services.
The ebooks here are in PDF and ePub formats. Some are protected by DRM while others are not. If you’re not well versed in the world of digital reading, here’s a beginner’s guide to the most popular ebook formats. The most important thing here is that you have to install the software/app Adobe Digital Editions on your device to read DRM-protected material. But if for some reason you can’t do that, you can also read the ebooks via your browser.
Obviously, the aforementioned services are paid. And if you’re looking for free Scribd alternatives, there’s OverDrive and Hoopla. They’re not ebook subscription services — they are library apps — but they kind of work the same way.
Sometimes, though, there are long library waitlists for the titles you want to read. In that case, here are “15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online” and “14 Websites To Find Free Audiobooks Online.”