Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Streaming Service Review: PLAYSTER


I was provided with a free week of Playster for review purposes. Although I could have gotten a whole month free just by signing up on my own, so the monetary value of this is questionable. Either way, all biases and opinions are my own.

I've never been one for subscription streaming. I am subscribed to Hulu, so I can watch The Mindy Project, and Amazon Prime, though I mainly have that for the free shipping and not for the movies, etc. But I've never been tempted by book subscriptions like Scribd or Oyster, for several reasons:

  1. I'm poor. Sad but true.
  2. Most of the books I read I get for free (see point 1). The vast majority of them are from my local library, and a few are ARCs or gifts/loans from friends. If I can get most of everything I want to read at the library, why would I pay for a book subscription service?
  3. I feel like subscription services generally do not have the books I want to read. That may not be true, but the ones I've looked into mostly have lit fic and best sellers. That makes sense from a business standpoint, but my jam is quirky romance, YA, cozy mysteries, and spy novels.
  4. I don't read enough to justify paying a monthly fee. I usually average only one book a week. To my mind, I'd have to go through three or four books a week (which I used to do... ah, childhood) to make signing up for most subscription services a good deal.

All of which is a long way to go about saying that I am not well-versed in subscription services, and my opinion on Playster should be taken as one who is a noobie in this market. That said, I was pretty impressed with it.

Playster, in case you hadn't guessed, is a new subscription service. It's not just for books, but audiobooks, movies, TV shows, games, and music as well. The monthly charge for all services is $24.95/month, which is pretty steep compared to Amazon Prime or Hulu–but, you could also argue you get more services through Playster. Alternately, you have the option to subscribe to just one of the services–for example, books–for $9.95/month.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of books and audiobooks available on Playster. I found exactly the audiobook I wanted to listen to, and there were plenty of YA, mystery, thriller, and romance novels, some I'd never even heard of. So, not completely dominated by best sellers.

My favorite part of Playster's service was actually the audiobook section (I didn't have an opportunity to look at the games, video, or music, so I can't tell you how those were). Audiobooks aren't included on Amazon Prime, and many of the audiobooks from my library are only playable on Overdrive, which is a giant pain in the ass. Playster's audiobooks were easily streamable from Chrome, which was a simpler way to listen than through Audible, even. So that definitely elevated its value as a service for me.

One thing about Playster that kind of confused me was that the app wasn't available yet. I could sign into it on a browser using my Mac and iPad (although I wasn't able to sign in on my iPhone, don't know why), and reading books through Chrome on iPad wasn't any more onerous than reading books through Kindle's app; but it still felt strange not to have a dedicated app. So if you do decide to try Playster you might want to hold off until the app is ready.

Another point of concern I noted while scrolling through the books was a lack of diversity–not in genre, but in authors. I was able to find one author who was a POC, but that was after a concentrated search on my part. I would definitely recommend Playster make more of an effort to include and feature books by a more diverse group of authors in the future.

Anyway, those were my impressions. If Playster is worth the monthly fee is up to the individual, of course, and to be completely honest I'm going to stick to the library. But for those of you who use (or canceled, for that matter) Scribd, Playster might be worth checking out.

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