The last chain bookstore near my house closed down years ago. Every evening, I would walk to the store, sit on their comfortable couches, and read an entire book while the salespeople glared at me. In their defence, I was a broke school kid who rarely bought anything, so I understand their ire.
However, times have changed, and bookstores are closing by the dozen every year. There are two possible reactions to this news.
You could react like I did, which means sobbing face down in your bed while you mourn the end of your raison d’etre. Or, you could catch up with the times and realise that there are new ways to find books in the modern age. Those ways are book and ebook subscription services. Luckily for you, I did both – resulting in this article.
So without further ado, let’s look at some of the best book/ebook subscription services for a bibliophile!
1. British Council Digital Library
This all-in-one subscription service is easily the best option available! Instead of having multiple subscriptions for different genres, book types, and languages, you can get everything under one subscription! And it only costs Rs. 1800 a year. You saw that right, only Rs.1800 a year!
Not only do you get access to a large variety of fictional novels, but you can also read comics, educational resources, magazines, newspapers, non-fiction novels, and academic papers – all through one subscription plan. The same plan also allows you to access its impressive library of movies, documentaries, and training videos.
The British Council’s Digital Library is one of the most cost-effective plans I’ve ever come across. The resources they offer are world-class, and, unlike most subscription services, you don’t need different plans for different resources. Everything is available under one single subscription plan for a bibliophile and learning-enthusiast.
2. Amazon Kindle Unlimited and Audible
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is another great subscription plan for any bibliophile. The plan costs approximately Rs. 160-170 per month, although they offer a 30-day free trial.
As any bibliophile would know, Amazon is one of the largest booksellers in the world right now. Almost every book, from local and international authors, can be found on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited is a subscription plan that allows users to read any book in the Kindle service for free while they subscribe. So, for the price of one book a month, you get access to thousands. Sounds like a sweet deal to me!
Kindle Unlimited also has really easy access across devices. Earlier, you would have to buy a Kindle reader to access ebooks on Amazon. Today, you just need to download the Kindle app on any device you already own. And once you’ve subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you can access your library of books across devices through the Kindle app.
Now, as much as we bookworms like to spend all day reading, life often gets in the way. You might have work or school or a series of mundane chores that drastically cut into your reading time. I know how it feels, I’ve been there.
So now we come to a different type of subscription on this list – audiobooks. Don’t have time to read or carry books with you? Get an Audible subscription, grab a pair of earphones, and you’re good to go!
Audible is Amazon’s audiobook subscription, containing thousands of audiobooks. If you don’t have the time to read a book, you could just listen to it through Audible. The subscription plan starts at Rs.199 per month, after a 30-day free trial.
3. Kaffeinated Konversations
While I’ve monologued for a while about the earlier-mentioned plans, those were digital subscription services. So, while they were cost-effective and gave you access to a large range of ebooks, you still couldn’t get a physical copy of the book through those services. And, as every bibliophile knows, there’s a certain thrill in holding a physical copy of the book, turning the pages manually, and smelling that wonderful book smell through the pages. So here’s a subscription plan that allows you to get physical book copies.
Kaffeinated Konversations is a book box subscription plan. They mainly curate books from Indian, Asian, and African authors, although they also include other nationalities on occasion. Along with the books, they also send cute, sustainably-sourced memorabilia like bookmarks, coffee-related products, and other trinkets.
As you know, here at the Purple Pencil Project, we’re all about bringing Indian literature to the forefront. So, as you can guess, I was extremely excited to find out about Kaffeinated Konversations and their focus on Asian and African authors.
They have three main subscription plans – Quarterly, Half Year, and Annual. When you subscribe, you will get a box (environmentally friendly!) filled with cute merchandise and books curated based on a monthly theme. This plan, being a physical book box, is more expensive than the previous two, but it’s well worth it for the new books and merchandise.
Kaffeinated Konversations’ subscription plans begin at Rs. 4299 for the Quarterly Plan.
4. Amar Chitra Katha
I’m sure you’re all familiar with this name. If you’ve grown up in India, or with an Indian family, you must have grown up reading Amar Chitra Katha comics. But did you know that they also have a subscription service?
Through the Tinkle App, you can choose a subscription plan to access your favourite comics – all conveniently available on your phone or tablet! The Amar Chitra Katha website has several subscription plans based on your tastes – from their own Amar Chitra Katha comics to Tinkle exclusives, to even Disney and Marvel comics. Most of the plans are annual plans, so purchasing one gives you a year’s access to everything offered in that plan. Some have quarterly, half-year, and even lifetime subscription plans
You can buy just one plan or several, based on your needs. Feed the young bibliophile in you with plans that begin at Rs. 99, but average at around Rs. 500.
5. Champaca Book Subscription
Champaca Book Box is a book box subscription plan that centres around a yearly theme. The theme of their first year was Translations, while the second year was Travel. The ongoing year (Year 3) is Loneliness and Connection.
Each box features a curated book along with stationery and curios from independent artists. You can try it out for one month at a cost of Rs. 1499, or try their 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month subscription plans. The monthly costs for the longer plans are less costly, with the three and six-month plans costing Rs. 1399 per month and the nine and twelve-month plans costing Rs. 1299 per month.
6. Books n Beyond
Another monthly book box subscription, Books n Beyond is a great way to get new, curated books along with fun, bookish-themed merchandise. Each box is curated based on a theme, so you get one new book along with a bunch of cute memorabilia like notebooks, badges, magnets, bookmarks, and more.
They also have special “fandom” themed boxes, which are curated based on popular fandoms like Harry Potter or Game Of Thrones. The merchandise in these boxes fits the theme, which makes it even more appealing.
Their boxes start at Rs.1500 a month.
This one is for all the parents out there! Every parent has been through the struggle of trying to get their children to read. It can be hard to make children see the value in reading, especially when there’s more stimulation in the form of television or computers.
I remember seeing harried parents in the bookstore, trying to figure out which books are appropriate for their children. Most would see me, a geeky-looking kid with glasses who’s practically buried under a pile of books, and all but beg me to help them choose a book for their child.
But you no longer have to hope that you’ll run into another bibliophile in the store to help you find books for your kids. Enchantico is a book box subscription that is tailored for children. It includes age-appropriate books along with activity-based merchandise. The entire box is curated with the sole purpose of helping children develop a love for reading.
The price is approximately Rs.3600 for a three-month subscription.
8. Kunzum Book Box
If you live (or lived) in New Delhi, you’ve probably heard of Kunzum Travel Café, the iconic book store in Hauz Khas Village. The store has since launched multiple outlets and – more importantly for this article – a book box program!
They have boxes based on Fiction, Non-fiction, Graphic Novels and Comics, and Special Editions. And they deliver all over India, so you can easily choose your preferred box! They have 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month plans, with plans starting at Rs. 2500.
Not only do they have a fantastic selection of curated boxes, but you also have the option to customise your own box! Any bibliophile can chat with them using WhatsApp on the number displayed on their website, or email them at email@example.com to customise your book box.
Scribd is another great platform with millions of ebooks, documents, and magazines, available at an extremely reasonable price. For just Rs.299 per month, you can access their impressive library. They even have a 30-day free trial, after which your subscription renews automatically unless you cancel it.
Scribd’s subscription plan is a monthly plan, which renews automatically at the end of every month. You can cancel at any time at least 24 hours before the next month’s renewal. However, you probably won’t want to, because they have a truly incredible library.
If you’re someone who enjoys reading magazines as well as books, this is the subscription plan for you. Scribd has partnerships with authors from all over the world, so you can access thousands of books through their website or app. They also have an impressive array of audiobooks for a new bibliophile.
10. Aurora Book Box
Aurora Book Box is another box subscription service that sends curated books and goodies each month. Every month’s box is curated based on a theme, and the books and goodies reflect the month’s theme.
They have two types of boxes – One Storyed Box and Two Storyed Box (yes, those spellings are intentional). The first one contains one book and 1-3 accessories and goodies, while the second contains two books and 3-5 goodies. The One Storyed Box costs Rs. 900 while the Two Storyed Box costs Rs. 1600.
11. Shonen Jump Manga and Comics App by Viz
I’ve already covered pretty much every type of book possible so far. We’ve got novels, magazines, ebooks, Indian and Western comics, and even audiobooks. Well, there’s one type I haven’t covered yet. Manga.
For the uninitiated, manga is a type of comic originating from Japan, which has exploded in popularity worldwide since the 1990s and 2000s. The subscription services I covered earlier in this article include many types of books, but none of them includes manga.
Shonen Jump Manga and Comics is an app by Viz which contains the latest manga. It operates on a monthly subscription basis, with a free one-week trial. The subscription renews automatically at the end of every month, though you can cancel at any time in the previous month.
It costs $1.99 per month, which works out to approximately Rs.150-160. For this price, you can read up to a hundred chapters a day in the app for an entire month!
And that’s it! These are the best book subscriptions for any bibliophile, covering everything from fiction to nonfiction, and audiobooks to comics. But don’t just take my word for it, subscribe and check it out for yourselves!