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Kobo Takes On Kindle Unlimited With New All-You-Can-Read eBook Subscription

Kobo Plus starts at $8 a month and offers 1.3 million books and 100,000 audio books.

Sarah Lord Associate Writer
Sarah Lord covers TVs and home entertainment. Prior to joining CNET, Sarah served as the tech and electronic reviews fellow at Insider, where she wrote about everything from smart watches and wearables to tablets and e-readers. She began her career by writing laptop reviews as an intern and subsequent freelancer at Tom's Hardware. She is also a professional actor with many credits in theater, film and television.
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Sarah Lord
2 min read

Kobo Plus is an all-you-can-read rival to Kindle Unlimited. 

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Amazon is getting more competition when it comes to ebooks. Kobo, the e-reader company owned by Rakuten, launched its Kobo Plus all-you-can-read subscription service on Wednesday in the US and the UK. The service offers 1.3 million ebooks and 100,000 audio books for a flat monthly fee. Plans start at $8 (£9) a month for read-only or listen-only options, while full access to audio books and e-books will cost $10 (£12) a month. 

At launch, Kobo Plus includes titles from Ian McEwan, Elena Ferrante, Alice Hoffman, Philip Roth and other authors. You'll be able to find romance books by Barbara Freethy and Beverly Lewis, as well as as mysteries from M.C. Beaton, Patricia Highsmith, and Elizabeth Peters.

"At Kobo, we're always working to make the reading experience better and more accessible," Bart Robers, Kobo's director of audiobooks and global subscriptions, said in a press release on Wednesday. He added that "there's nothing as gratifying as saying 'read as much as you want for a set monthly fee,' which is exactly what our Kobo Plus subscription offers." 

Kobo Plus, like Amazon's $10-a-month Kindle Unlimited service, offer readers a smorgasbord of books -- but the quality of the books on offer can fluctuate wildly. Don't expect to see big new releases or books that ranked in the year-end best lists. That's because big publishers like Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan and HarperCollins don't allow their books to be part of these services. 

Amazon fills its Kindle Unlimited service with books from self-published independent authors, with work that's marketed as an Amazon Exclusive. Kobo has not said if it has a similar program or how it chooses which books are in its service.