Why the new ‘Netflix for books’ is useless to me

tree readingMaybe you heard that Smashwords has partnered with Scribd to deliver a “Netflix for books” service. For $9 a month, you can read as much as you want.

That’s a good price — $9 easily covers one book or 40 — but to me, it’s a useless deal. Here’s why:

I just upgraded to a Kindle Paperwhite because I wanted to experience the comfort of reading on a brightly lit screen and the speed of near-instant flipping between pages, like I get on my iPad. But I also wanted to eliminate the glare of LCD and the distraction of apps, push-notifications, and the Internet.

As wonderful as Scribd sounds (it offers access to more than 40 million books — a giant library for digital reading), you can only use it on web-enabled devices like iOS and Android phones, tablets, and desktop computers. The Kindle Fire and Nook HD support Scribd, but the Paperwhite — or any other e-ink reader — does not.

That’s probably not Scribd’s fault. Amazon can control its content on its own e-readers, for examples, whereas other devices allow for third-party apps (including the Kindle Fire, which is only semi-closed and based on Android’s open platform). That could be a contributing reason.

Regardless, Scribd is still useless to me — for now, anyway. But I’m curious what effect its emergence could have on libraries across the country. As more people convert to e-readers and more of them seek digital books, how many will resort to a single, convenient source like Scribd, which, as long as you maintain an ongoing subscription, enforces no limits on the length of time you can read books (unlike library rentals)? I find that e-book loaning from local libraries can be both complicated and slow. I doubt Scribd would be nearly as grueling.

Does a “Netflix for books” interest you even if you have to read on LCD screens to get it? Do you think it could threaten local libraries?

One of the best novels of the last few years is $3

But only until June 7. Then the digital version of Alex Bledsoe’s The Hum and the Shiver — one of the best fiction books of 2011, according to Kirkus Reviews — returns to its full price.

I just bought it.

The sequel, Wisp of a Thing, releases June 18.

Also, awesome cover:

The Hum and the Shiver

Early Michael Crichton (that Jurassic Park guy) books coming out


If you’re a Michael Crichton fan, then you’ll be happy to know some of his earliest works are releasing as e-books soon. No need to travel to a secret island to find copies (you can grab them in print form, but many sell for hundreds of dollars).

Crichton wrote 10 novels under three different pen names at the start of his career, back when he was studying in medical school in the 1960s. Open Road Integrated Media is publishing the first digital editions of books like Odds On (his premiere novel) and even Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, which Crichton wrote with his brother Douglas.

Open Road referred to them as “The Med School Years.” *snicker*

The author used the pseudonyms John Lange, Jeffery Hudson, and Michael Douglas.

Here’s the full list:

Writing as John Lange:

  • Odds On
  • Scratch One
  • Easy Go
  • The Venom Business
  • Zero Cool
  • Drug of Choice
  • Grave Descend
  • Binary

Writing as Jeffery Hudson:

  • A Case of Need 

Writing as Michael Douglas:

  • Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues

14 Kurt Vonnegut e-books for $1.99 each

Kindle Daily Deal Kurt VonnegutAmazon’s Kindle Daily Deal today is on 14 select Kurt Vonnegut books.

I don’t see Slaughterhouse-Five or Breakfast of Champions on there, but I do see Mother Night and Player Piano. And at $1.99 each, you really can’t complain too much.

What’s your favorite Vonnegut book? Such a great author! My boyfriend and I both love reading him.

Awesome book cover Friday: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Thanksgiving food books

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday. Thanksgiving was a little different for me this year. My parents traveled across the country to visit my eldest sister, and my boyfriend drove out of state to spend the day with part of his family. Even so, I had a great time and enjoyed the company, and I’m definitely enjoying the extra-long weekend break! I’ve been sleeping in, eating leftovers, and watching TV shows — Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Twin Peaks (the clear inspiration for one of my new favorite video games, Deadly Premonition). And of course, reading! I’m busy with a book for Kirkus Indie and with Life of Pi for my two-person book club. :D

This year, I’m thankful for my family and amazing boyfriend, but I’m also grateful that my grandpa could make it home for the holiday. He hasn’t been doing so well lately and has been spending a lot of time in the hospital, trying to get better. It made Thanksgiving more special that we could have him with us.

What are you thankful for this year? Books are something we can all be happy about! This week’s pick is a children’s classic, rereleased as an e-book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Do you like the cover? I adore the bright colors and childish flair to it, and I can imagine kids would be drawn to the style. That brings up an interesting topic. Where do you stand on publishers rereleasing classics with more modern covers? As someone who looks for the most aesthetic version of a book, I’m totally for them. And if it gets a book back into print (or in this case, fresh availability as an e-book) — even better. The way I see it, if a fancy cover gets young readers to try an old book instead of passing it by, what’s the harm?