Amazon today announced KindleUnlimited, an eBook rental service that allows you to read an unlimited number of books for a flat fee of $9.99 per month. Subscribers can download books from a selection of 600,000 titles. You can keep them “checked out” for as long as you want, and can have up to 10 books downloaded at any given time. These books can be read not only on Kindle devices, but also on any device with a Kindle app, including Android phones and tablets. Along with the book rental program, subscribers get a free three month subscription to Audible and it’s collection of audio books. Amazon is currently offering a 30 day free trial of the service
Amazon Senior Vice President Russ Grandinetti said:
With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre—you can just start reading and listening,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy. We hope you take advantage of the 30-day free trial and try it for yourself.
While 600,000 books sound like a lot of choices, it’s not really as generous as it seems. In the U.S. alone, there are some 300,000 new books published each year by traditional publishers alone. Include self published books, and that total may approach 1,000,000 books per year. With very low fees, Kindle has become the format of choice for those who want to self-publish. Amazon says “Choose from hundreds of thousands of books only found on Kindle,” so it seems likely that a great many, perhaps as many as half, of the books available are self-published books. That doesn’t mean those books are unreadable, or without value, but it does mean the selection of books from top authors and publishers is pretty limited.
This author looked for books from his favorite authors, and found that of more than one hundred books from these writers only one is available to read for free. None of the books on my Amazon Wish List are included, nor are any of the books I’ve read in the last 6 months or so. The blame for this probably rests with the traditional publishers rather than Amazon, but it limits the usefulness of the service nonetheless.
With a 30 day free trial, it can’t hurt to check it out, but it strikes me as better suited for those seeking out new writers than those looking to read best-sellers and popular authors. If that’s what you’re looking for, check to see if your local library system has an ebook lending program.