Give a Christmas Gift: Access to Half a Million eBooks

This article is not about genealogy although I do know that many genealogists are also avid readers. I assume their friends and relatives also may include people who love to read books. If you are late in buying a holiday gift for such a person, read on. You can give the gift of a half million books. Even better, there is no need to brave the crowds at a local shopping mall to purchase this gift.

Oyster is a leading streaming service for books. In fact, it operates like a lending library. An Oyster member can electronically “check out” a book and read it on an Apple iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch as well as on any Android device or a Nook HD or a Kindle Fire. The Oyster member can also read ebooks in a web browser on any Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or mobile computer. An Internet connection is required for reading books in a web browser. However, Apple mobile devices, Android devices, Nook HD, or Kindle Fire devices can download ebooks, save them, and the Oyster subscriber can read the books later at any location, such as when riding the commuter train or at the beach.

Oyster offers more than 500,000 books to choose from and more are being added daily. The collection includes many, although not all, bestsellers, award winners, and more. Oyster readers can enjoy as many books as they want; everything from New York Times Best Sellers and Oprah’s picks, to children’s titles and more. I didn’t see any genealogy books in the list although thousands of history books are available.

You can browse the Oyster library at or search all the tiles at to see what is available. Over time, Oyster gets to know what each reader likes, and recommends books based on his or her reading habits and tastes.

Anyone with vision problems will especially appreciate reading books on an e-reader. The font sizes and styles are adjustable. Even the background colors and contrast are adjustable. Many optometrists and ophthalmologists recommend ebook readers to patients with vision problems. In some cases, avid readers are able to start reading books again for the first time in years.

An Oyster subscription costs $9.95 a month and gift subscriptions are easily available. There is no commitment; a subscription may be canceled at any time. Surprisingly, there is no discount for longer subscriptions. A twelve month subscription costs twelve times the price of a one-month subscription.

You can purchase an Oyster gift subscription at

A portion of your gift goes to Reading Is Fundamental, the national literacy program whose mission is to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.


Dick, There is a similar service accessible via public libraries for free. Just sign up for an OverDrive account and login with a Public Library membership card. Details of the service here, .
The OverDrive service is stated to have more than 30,000 participating libraries in 40+ countries and has a catalog of over 2 million titles and includes both print and audio books.


The ebook subscription service you use depends on the books you want to read. I have a few fiction authors that I got started reading. They are not available through Overdrive. I’ve read all the volumes on Scribd. They are also not available on Amazon’s subscription service, I would need to buy them there. I did notice that Oyster has more titles that I haven’t read so I will probably subscribe, at least for awhile.


Thank you so much for pointing out this site! Not everyone has access to a “free” local library. Many of us live in a dead zone and can only pay for traditional library service. I subscribe(pay) to the Free Library of Philadelphia for ebooks and audio books but Oyster has a lot of books that I’ve been wanting to read and FLP doesn’t have. The price is a bit steep but I can read a lot of books in a few months. Thank you!


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