My Amazon Kindle has me pegged. I have the ad-supported Paperwhite, which means anytime my Kindle sleeps, it shows me an advertisement for a book Amazon thinks I’d like to read. More often than not, it’s correct, and I’ll click on the ad and buy the e-book, usually for a price in the range of 99 cents to $5.
Which is why I’m the perfect audience for Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s new e-book subscription service launching today. At first blush, it seems like a great deal—but I’m not going to buy it just yet.
Is It A Good Deal?
Kindle Unlimited offers Kindle device or Kindle application users unlimited access to more than 600,000 books for $9.99 per month. (For comparison, that’s out of approximately 2.7 million ebooks Amazon offers in the U.S.) The subscription also includes three months of free Audible service, giving users access to more than 2,000 audiobooks.
The Netflix-style subscription service features some popular titles, including the Hunger Games trilogy, the Harry Potter series, The Lord of The Rings trilogy, thousands of classics like Animal Farm, as well as books only published on Kindle. What you won’t find are current bestsellers or any other titles from the big five publishers like Simon and Schuster and Hachette Book Group. (Hachette is currently embroiled in a dispute with Amazon stemming from failed contract negotiations that have troubled the companies for months.)
The books are only available for as long as you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription—so you don’t own them. But it offers more titles as well as access to audio books compared to Amazon’s other e-book borrowing service the Kindle Owners Lending Library, available only to Amazon Prime subscribers with Kindle devices.
Amazon recently hiked the cost of Prime membership to $99 per year. So, if you’re already paying for Prime, Kindle Unlimited isn’t worth it.
However, if you’re a voracious reader with a Kindle or its Android or iOS app, a $10 per month e-book subscription might save you some money.
What’s not clear is how authors or publishers make out in this deal. According to the Washington Post, “once a subscriber has read a certain percentage of a given book, it’s considered a “sale,” and the company that runs the subscription pays the publisher for it.”
Amazon is offering a 30-day free trial subscription to Kindle Unlimited so people can find out if they’re willing to fork over $10 per month for e-books. I’ve already downloaded a couple myself.
Lead image by Selena Larson for ReadWrite