Sadly, the printed page is gradually disappearing, but times must change. Technology has paved the way for publications to go digital. So many magazines have already switched to the web, and books are not far behind in leaving their paper form. There is an advantage to eBooks though since paper books are bulky and sometimes heavy. Having to carry several over a long trip or for serious study can be an issue. This time, we discuss the Best Online eBook Stores to satisfy our need for information or escape to other worlds.
We have our phones and tablets to thank for their ability to contain mini-libraries of digital versions of manuals, novels, magazines, comics, and other publications. As long as they’re charged, and there’s electricity around, we can never get bored. The problem now is where to get our virtually printed material. There are plenty of online booksellers out there with their respective advantages, disadvantages, promos, and niche products.
List of 8 Best Online eBook Stores
Our first entry for the Best Online eBook Stores would have to be Amazon. Before Amazon ventured into almost everything that can be sold, it sold books and eBooks. Amazon would have nearly every title of best-sellers, novels, manuals, cookbooks, references, guides, prose, and biographies. Buying them was easy. The search was easy, and payment was secure. It still is – the interface remains similar and remains easy to use.
Amazon has practically all titles available, except of course self-published ones done through other distributors/publications. Promos are also a regular thing with Amazon, such as their Kindle Daily Deals, allowing readers to purchase books with huge discounts, even for free. Amazon also has a Netflix-like subscription service model for total bookworms, which nets them all the ebooks they can read for a fixed price. Not exactly all, but a smaller selection compared to the main store.
However, Amazon’s books use a proprietary format for their Kindle eBook readers and reading apps. Therefore, they are not transferrable between other eReaders and eReader apps but the Kindle. But as long as you have a Kindle app on your devices, reading your purchases shouldn’t be a problem. There are Kindle reading apps for almost every platform.
eBooks.com has been around since the year 2000 when eBooks started becoming a thing. This makes eBooks .com a trusted eBook seller for over 20 years with over 2 million titles and 5 million members. The site itself looks very clean with background and text in colors that are easy on the eyes. The site is easy to use – categories on the left, search on the top, lists of books at the center, and additional filters to the right. After choosing a title, the book’s cover and details are pleasingly displayed at the center with further recommendations to the right. The books themselves are affordable with periodic promotions and are sold in popular EPUB and PDF formats, with some being DRM-free. Their selections also include academic books.
➂ Google Play
The Google Play Store aims to sell more than just apps for Android devices. They diversified into selling movies and ebooks as well. Google Play’s wide selection of ebooks and tailored selection based on your online activity and accessibility makes it one of the Best Online eBook Stores. Compared to the past, the interface looks much cleaner and easy to use. Almost any Android user can purchase ebooks at the ready as most users have Google Play installed.
➃ Barnes & Noble
With brick-and-mortar book stores sadly going out of style, Barnes & Noble, the US largest bookseller, has no choice but to enter the eBook business as well. Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble is one of the leading online book stores. It has become Amazon’s main competitor in the eBook business and has also developed its own eReader – the NOOK vs. Amazon’s Kindle.
The website itself looks nice and is really trying hard to market its products. Unlike Amazon’s, Barnes and Noble’s site looks graphically intensive and may run slowly on some systems. However, things get a bit simpler once users get past the home page. What can be said about this is that Amazon has put book marketing on the back burner, which is good for other eBook sites. Individual product pages are quite descriptive. However, like Amazon, B&N’s ebooks also have DRM and are in a proprietary format for their NOOK readers. But it’s safe to say that NOOK reader apps are available on most platforms.
Smashwords is known as the world’s largest independent book store; this is where budding authors can find their audience. With that, don’t expect to find the classics here, such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Instead, expect to find books that analyze these classics and just maybe books that might become classics someday. Despite being more of a self-publishing site, it still has most categories found in other book stores. However, the selection of books is not as massive as the rest, with just over 95,000 books. Interestingly enough, 90,000 of them are free, while paid books do not cost more than $9.99.
Smashwords’ interface is somewhere between Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It’s quite simple but not too flashy. What’s unique here is that it features great filters from the get-go, such as word count and prices. Smashwords is an excellent place to start for those interested in self-publishing ebooks. For those interested in short stories by amateur writers, Smashwords is the place to go. Ebooks on Smashwords are available in EPUB, PDF, and MOBI formats.
Kobo is another major eBook store worthy of being one of the Best Online eBook Stores. Kobo’s website looks just as graphically intensive as Barnes & Noble’s but is a little bit faster. The site is user-friendly. Kobo is the third major player in the eBooks business along with Amazon and Barnes. They also have their own proprietary format and brand of e-readers. Apps are available on most platforms that allow for reading. Kobo also has a large selection of titles to choose from — over 5 million titles. So stumbling into Kobo instead of the other two won’t present any issues. If you have problems choosing, the Kobo website spotlights several titles. Sticking around allows the site to learn your reading preferences and will recommend better choices. Like Smashwords, Kobo also supports budding writers, allowing their works to be self-published.
For those who don’t know, Harlequin is also a long-time book publisher that has also taken the step to go digital. What’s special about Harlequin is that it’s the leading book publisher of titles aimed at women. So, if you’re looking for good romance novels, Harlequin would be the right choice as the site publishes its own series of original romance novels exclusive to the site. The site itself looks graphically intensive but is quick to respond. Romance buffs will quickly fill their carts in no time browsing through Harlequin’s wide selection. There are other genres, but sadly, fan favorites like Crichton or Tolkien aren’t present.
If you want to see the books you like as soon as you launch, then Bookbub is for you. First, Bookbub wants your membership, which is free, and if you have a Google account, then it’s an effortless membership. Then comes step two as Bookbub will want your profile, meaning your preferences. No AI can determine your preferences upon logging in unless a site has your entire browser history. Just a few selections (genres, authors, reading habit), and the site is all set. And you can scroll for the book that may be your next.
Another thing, BookBub should be called Bookhub instead as it’s more of an aggregate site. Your chosen ebook/s will be sourced from other booksellers, and then you can download them. Also, if you have some favorite authors, you will be alerted of new titles and good deals on getting them. So, despite some initial effort, Bookbub qualifies in this list as one of the Best Online eBook Stores.
The site looks very clean, much like the others in this list – devoid of annoying ads and moving widgets. Just book covers and some text in a sea of white. The site is easy to use, and scrolling through the selection is quite fun as your preferred books are the ones displayed. The site does have an awesome and colorful categories list. In short, browsing the site is fun.
We hope you appreciate this list of what we consider the Best Online eBook Stores to help you catch up on your reading. But before you choose, kindly consider the device you’ll be using. eBook sellers that have no proprietary hardware are likely to offer standard formats, while as for the others, they have their respective apps that you can download. Enjoy your reading!