Product Review: Playster – the digital library

Have you ever wished there was a Netflix for books?

If so, take a look at Playster.

In simply terms, Playster is a new media subscription platform, currently in beta mode (i.e. still in development stages), that contains a variety of books, films, music and PC games that members can ‘borrow’. Essentially, it is a similar concept to Netflix but includes electronic books and PC games. It is available worldwide.
Last week, I was offered the opportunity to take a look at the beta website for Playster for the purpose of a review relating to the book side of the site. 
I must admit that I had not heard of Playster previously and after reading the PR write up, I was excited to take a look around.

I was kindly given temporary login details, however I understand that the site does offer a free month trial. After that free trial, I believe membership costs £4.95 per month for one media type or £8.50 for all media types.
So, what did I find when viewing the site?

First, the main screen does resemble the Netflix homepage, showing the main four categories (i.e. books, films, music and PC games). I understand that there is a Playster App, however I did not use that. My viewing was done solely from a desktop. I am advised that the ebooks are accessible on iPhone, Kindle Fire and desktop, however I would have liked to have been able to read them on my Kindle Paperwhite.
The book selection is split into various genres (most popular, new releases, fiction, romance, young adult, mystery etc…) to make it easier to browse through the available books.
With these type of sites, functionality is a big plus point and, being familiar with Netflix, I liked the interface and I found it easy to use. However, I imagine that once the site has a larger selection of books available, there may have to be some further categorisation in order to allow for browsing of smaller selections, as trawling through the current books available proved quite time consuming.
In addition to electronic books, there was also a selection of audiobooks available. 
There is a search button on the top right hand corner of the page if you know what book you are looking for, otherwise you can simply browse the selections available in each genre.
The right hand side provides access to your account settings and the left hand side has a drop down menu where any books/music/films/games that you save can be easily located in the ‘library’ tab. This is a handy function, particularly as trying to find the same book a second time could take a while if you can’t remember the name/author.
Once you click into a book, it gives you the option of Read Now, More Info or Add to Library. Easy and self-explanatory.
I had a thorough browse through the selection of books available and found there to be quite a range, some categories better than others. There are some big publishers already on board – HarperCollinsPublishers, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin. HarperCollins have signed an agreement to make over 14,000 of their backlist available on Playster. This leads me to believe that the book selection will continue to improve over time.
My verdict? I think Playster is a great concept and shows a lot of potential to be a very popular site amongst readers. Whilst similar in theory to Kindle Unlimited, Playster has the advantage that you don’t need to be a Kindle owner in order to use the site. It’s also cheaper if you’re only planning to subscribe to one form of media. As the site becomes more established and further publishers get on board, I think there will be a lot of interest amongst book fans who like the ease and convenience of having an online library available on demand. By my calculations, as long as you read more than one book a month, it should prove to be pretty good value.
My only grumble is that I’m not keen on reading books on my desktop PC and would need a tablet or iPhone to really be able to sit down on the sofa and read. I won’t be subscribing just yet, not until I have a decent tablet and have worked my way through the hoards of books I currently have sitting on my bookcase. However, I will keep an eye on Playster and I may well subscribe in the near future.

If you’re interested in Playster, you can visit the site here.

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