Kobo is bringing its Kobo Plus service, which lets you read unlimited ebooks and audiobooks for a flat monthly fee, to the US. There are three different plans available; for $7.99 a month, you can get access to ebooks or audiobooks with the “Read” and “Listen” plans, or you can get both for $9.99 a month.
You can access the books through Kobo’s e-readers (though do note that not all of them support audiobooks) or the company’s iOS, Android, and desktop apps. You also don’t have to be constantly connected to Wi-Fi to read them — a Kobo FAQ says that “you can read a maximum of 15 Kobo Plus books while offline over a 30-day period.”
Kobo Plus has been around for a while in a few countries, including Canada, New Zealand, and Portugal, but I’m happy to see it coming to the US. As someone who loves reading but tries to avoid giving Amazon money, I’ve always been jealous of the Kindle Unlimited subscription, which is $9.99 a month and is similar to Kobo’s offering. It’s good to see some more competition in the book subscription space.
However, I will say that my excitement’s been tempered a bit by the selection of books that’s currently available. Like Kindle Unlimited, Kobo Plus doesn’t give you carte blanche access to every ebook on the store, only select titles. I signed up for the free trial and scrolled through the top non-fiction Kobo Plus reads, and I’m pretty sure I could keep myself entertained with what’s available there for a while.
When I checked the 72 books on my wishlist, though, I could only get four through the subscription (and three of those were from the same author, Samuel R. Delany, so the variety was extremely limited). It is possible that I just have extremely niche tastes, though, because when I did the same experiment with Kindle Unlimited, it also only scored four out of 72. It’s also worth noting that I did this before the Kobo Plus had officially launched, so it’s possible I didn’t have access to the full catalog.
According to Kobo, the library accessible to subscribers includes 1.3 million ebooks and 100,000 audiobooks, and the company says it’s adding more each month. For reference, Amazon boasts “over three million digital titles” that are included with Kindle Unlimited, so Kobo does have some catching up to do if it wants to match that figure.
PS: I’d be remiss if I wrote about book subscriptions without mentioning Libby, a free app that gives you access to tons of ebooks and audiobooks via your local library. The catalog is dependent on how good your library is, but it’s worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it already.