Today Amazon.com introduced a new service called Kindle Unlimited, where you pay a $9.99/month and you can read as many e-books as you want (they call it “unlimited”, but it actually has a limit of holding on to 10 e-books at a time). It gives you access to over 600,000 e-books and thousands of audiobooks. They are offering a 30-day free trial, so I decided I would test it out.
I usually buy around 1 book e-book (almost all are business books) a month from Amazon, and many popular titles are not available through this service, so I don’t expect to save money by doing this. My hope is to read a lot more books since they are now “free”. I no longer have to worry about if a book is going to be good enough to spend money on. If I download it and don’t like it, I can just delete it. Nothing lost but a few minutes of wasted time.
What most people probably don’t know is that you don’t need a Kindle device anymore to read Kindle e-books. You can read them on almost all mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android tablets/phones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, etc.) and also on PCs and MACs. I read them on my iPhone via the Kindle app. I own a Kindle but stopped using it many years ago once I bought an iPhone. To use Kindle Unlimited, I just go to Amazon.com, click on the e-book I want, and it instantly appears on my iPhone in the same Kindle app I already use to buy regular e-books from Amazon.
Some examples of famous books that are available are:
Lord of The Rings
Flash Boys (by Michael Lewis, about Wall Street)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a famous business book)
Life of Pi
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The Fault in Our Stars (this was made into a movie)
The Hunger Games
Another example is an old book that made the news this week because it was publicly recommended by Bill Gates:
Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks
There are also hundreds of Kindle Singles you can read, which are short books, usually from lessor known authors. Many of them look very interesting, I just wouldn’t always pay for them, so reading them via Kindle Unlimited is the perfect solution.
Amazon.com is not the first company to offer a Netflix type service for books (oysterbooks.com and scribd.com were the market leaders up until today), but Amazon has the best selection, and since it integrates seamlessly with the Kindle app I already use, it is much more convenient for me. I expect my level of book consumption to greatly increase now that I am a member.
UPDATE #1: There is an interesting article at TechCrunch about how authors get paid from Kindle Unlimited. Basically, it is only for authors who have given Amazon exclusive sales rights to their books via the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program, and payment works the same as if the book is lent out in the Kindle Lending Library program. Amazon has established what they call the “KDP Select fund”, which compensates authors with royalties when their books are read with no direct payment from the customer. The customer must read at least 10% of the book for this to apply. It is not clear yet how much an author might actually make from somebody reading their book in Kindle Unlimited, since the amount varies and the program just started yesterday.
UPDATE #2: What is most interesting is that the 10 books I downloaded (I have not read any of them yet) so far on Kindle Unlimited are all books I never would have bought individually. I found them by browsing through the available Kindle Unlimited titles, and picked the ones I thought looked good. They were:
Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century – Stefan Heck
The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance – Steven Kotler
Tax Lien Investing Secrets Revealed – Dustin Hahn
Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood: An Apple Core, a Toilet – Tom Purcell
Get Big Fast and Do More Good: Start Your Business, Make It Huge, and Change the World – Ido Leffler
The 52-Week Life Passion Project – Barrie Davenport
Happy Stories!: Real-Life Inspirational Stories from Around the World That Will Raise Your Happiness Level – Will Bowen
Capital in the Twenty-First Century – Thomas Piketty
Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) – George Takei
Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street – John Brooks