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The 5 best book subscription services: Get great reads delivered monthly

What is the best book subscription service? ZDNet chose the Book of the Month Club. We analyzed features like membership pricing, reviews, book genres, and more to make our top picks for bookworms.
allison-murray
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer on

There is nothing like curling up with a good book. Nowadays, reading comes in different forms: ebooks, audiobooks, and of course, an actual printed book in your hands. Whatever way you like to read, there is a book subscription for you.

Book subscriptions offer paid memberships that delivers a new book to you hands each month. They are great for those looking to add to their home library and readers looking to expand beyond their common interests and genres.

We've rounded up the best book subscription services available so you can read to your liking.

Features: Skip and add-on options | Hardcover books | 5 books to choose from

You may have heard of the Book of the Month, and that's because it has been around since 1926. The subscription service lets you choose one of five fiction/nonfiction books per month, so that you can add to your growing home library. The service has an emphasis on early releases and debut authors. Some notable books featured in the Book of the Month include It Ends with Us by Coleen Hoover, Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford, and The People We Keep by Allison Larkin.

The first month's book is just $9.99, and after that, you'll pay $15.99 per month to get a new hardcover to read. Of course, you can always skip a month if you're not intrigued by any of the titles, and, if you want more than one of the five titles, you have the option to add up to two books to your monthly selection for an extra cost.

Pros:

  • Great way to build up your home library with vetted titles
  • Inexpensive price range
  • Discover new and noteworthy titles

Cons:

  • BOTM Logo appears on the cover of every book
  • Some subscribers say the page quality is slightly different than store-bought books 

Features: 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscription options | Large-print options | Mix of hardcover and paperback

If you'd rather get more personalized book recommendations, Page 1 offers a customized subscription option strictly based on your tastes. When signing up, you'll tell the service what books and authors you love and what ones you don't, and they will curate books for you each month -- you can even link to your Goodreads account.

You'll receive a mix of hardcover and paperback titles, and if you receive a book you've already read, Page 1 will ship you a new title, free of charge.

It's important to note that Page 1 does not accept cancellations of whichever subscription you purchased. But it does not auto-renew subscriptions and does offer free book replacements.

Pros:

  • Offers ebook and audiobook subscription versions as well
  • Books are completely customized to your taste

Cons:

  • Hardcover only costs extra
  • Does not accept cancellations 

Features: Free 30-day trial | 2 million digital titles | Up to 3 magazine subscriptions included in membership

Of course, if you're an ebook reader, there's always Amazon Kindle Unlimited, which offers around 2 million digital titles. The service works much like a library: For $9.99 a month, you can borrow up to 10 books at a time, including up to three magazines. In addition, Kindle Unlimited's catalog is updated regularly, so there are always new titles to discover.  

You don't need an Amazon Kindle device to enjoy the service. You can download the Kindle app to any device and read your ebooks on your smartphone or tablet. You can swap between different devices, and the app will save your reading place across every device.

Pros:

  • Audible Narration included
  • Great for genre readers and those open to indie/self-published books
  • Read multiple books at a time

Cons:

  • Big-name publishing houses aren't available, so many best-sellers are left out
  • Choosing from among so many titles/options can be overwhelming and time-consuming 

Also: The best e-readers: Kindle, Kobo, and more

Features: 2 box options | Skip option | Hardcover books

Young Adult readers will appreciate the OwlCrate subscription, which specifically caters to the YA genre. The service offers two different subscriptions: OwlCrate Jr. ($29.99 per month) for kids aged 8-12 and OwlCrate ($32.99 per month) for 14 and older. Each box comes with extras like a letter from the author, a monthly magazine, an activity, or unique book-related goodies, and more.

OwlCrate also frequently offers limited edition boxes packed with special edition titles and even more goodies.  

Pros:

  • Each box is built around a theme
  • Price includes book and collectible items

Cons:

  • Shipping is not included in the price
  • Books mostly lean towards the fantasy and magical realism genres

Features: Audible Originals | 5 membership plans | More than 200,000 titles

Those who prefer to listen to books on the go should look no further than Audible's audiobook selection. It offers more than 200,000 titles, and plans start at $7.95 per month and go up to $22.95 per month. With each plan, you get a different amount of credits, which can be used to purchase any audiobook, regardless of price.

During your free 30-day trial, you receive two credits, worth one title each, toward the premium library. Once the trial ends, you revert to the standard one credit per month. 

The service also features Audible originals, which are exclusive audio titles created by celebrated authors, journalists, playwrights, and other storytellers, and produced by Audible Studios. In addition, Audible offers a sleep collection that includes bedtime stories, soundscapes, and ASMR.

Pros:

  • Podcasts included in the subscription
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa devices

Cons:

  • Must be a Prime member for the best benefits
  • Different plan options and credit-based system can be confusing 

What is the best book subscription service?

We chose the Book of the Month club as the best book subscription based on price, book selection, and reviews. 

Book Subscription

Price

Plan Options

# of Titles to Choose From

Book of the Month

$15.99/month

1

5 books per month, but you also can choose books from previous months

Page 1

$99 for three months

3

N/A

Kindle Unlimited

$9.99/month

1

2 million digital titles 

OwlCrate

Starts at $29.99/month

2

N/A

Audible

Starts at $7.95/month

5

More than 200,000 titles

Which book subscription is right for you?

While all of these book subscriptions are great options, it ultimately comes down to what types of books you like to read, if you prefer an actual printed book, an audiobook, or an ebook, and what amount you're willing to spend.

Choose this book subscription...

If you want...

Book of the Month

The best overall option.

Page 1

A book subscription that's customized to your interests. 

Kindle Unlimited

A book subscription for e-readers. 

OwlCrate

A kid/young-adult-friendly book subscription. 

Audible

A subscription to audiobooks and podcasts.

How did we choose these book subscription services?

We chose these book subscriptions after extensive research into the product category. We compared factors like pricing, reviews (both good and bad), different reading methods, and the number of book titles offered. All of the book subscription services were compared at their lowest price point offered.

Are book subscription services cheaper than buying a single book?

It really depends—if you want to buy a new book online or at a bookstore, that can cost you anywhere between $14-$20, so if you're a brand new hardcover book lover, it might be cheaper to opt for a book subscription service.

Used books will cost less, but you might not find those new and best-selling titles in a used bookstore.

Are there alternative book subscriptions to consider?

Here are a few other options worth looking into:

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