Monthly subscription services for books and entertainment are not new. You can sign up for everything from Netflix to Hulu Plus, Oyster to Scribd and fill your hours with books, tv shows, and movies every month.
Last week, Amazon announced it would join this monthly subscription model with an addition to its ever-increasing portfolio of services and perks for avid readers: Kindle Unlimited. There has been some excitement over the announcement, but some skepticism, too, so I decided to take a look at the program and offer my 2 cents.
What Is Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited is a $9.99/month subscription service that gives you instant access to over 600,000 digital books and 2,000 audio books. These books can be read on the Kindle itself, or via any of Amazon’s free Kindle apps for phone, tablet, and PC. You can “check out” 10 books at a time, and there are no due dates. To use Kindle Unlimited, you must have an Amazon account with a current, valid credit card and you must have 1-Click payments enabled.
You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, then cancel any time by going to Your Account and adjusting membership settings. It’s important to note: any Kindle Unlimited books you have downloaded are removed from your library once you unsubscribe.
What Books Are Available through Kindle Unlimited?
A little bit of everything, really – after all, 600,000 book is a lot of books. I’d say at least half the catalog is filled with sub-par, low-budget romance and mystery novels. They’ve even included some classics that you can already get on Amazon for free. BUT, there are some real winners here, too.
If you’re going to try Kindle Unlimited, start with the titles they are touting the loudest, including the Hunger Games trilogy, all 7 Harry Potter books, the Lord of the Rings series, and other great books like Water for Elephants and Life of Pi. I found some of my own favorites in Young Adult fiction, including Graceling, Shiver, the Life As We Knew It series, and the Giver series, which you can check out now before the first book is released as a movie soon. And there are even some books I have on my “Want to Read” list, including The Namesake, Princess Bride, and Winter’s Tale.
I found the Kindle Unlimited catalog had significant overlap with Prime’s Lending Library, and many of the books can be found on Amazon’s Daily Deals or $3.99 or Less page. But, if you read quickly and can find enough books you like – without having to subscribe to Prime or search through the deals page – Kindle Unlimited might be worth a try. Especially since you can try it free for 30 days!
What Are Some Other Ways To Get Cheap or Free Books on Amazon?
Available to everyone:
- Kindle Daily Deals Every day, Amazon offers Kindle book deals for adults and young readers, including daily romance, science-fiction/fantasy, and nonfiction. Sign up to receive a daily email notification of each day’s deals.
- Kindle books $3.99 and Less – if you visit the Kindle Daily Deals page at Amazon, you can also scroll down to see several pages of Kindle books on sale for $3.99 or less.
For Prime members:
- Kindle Lending Library – As I mentioned above, I’m seeing a significant overlap between the catalogs for Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library. The main difference would be the required Prime account for the Lending Library. Also, you can only check out one book from the Lending Library at a time, whereas you can check out up to 10 at a time with Kindle Unlimited. BUT…I am such a fan of Prime, I would ultimately recommend paying for Prime ($99/year) vs Kindle Unlimited ($120/year), and then you get all the awesome free, 2-day shipping and other Prime perks as well.
- Kindle First – on the 1st of every month, Amazon Publishing editors offer up 4 Kindle books in advance of their release date – choose one of these featured books to read for free; the book will then become part of your permanent library. Kindle First books can be read on any Kindle device or via any of the free Kindle apps. If you are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you cannot choose a Kindle First book when it is first offered, but you will be able to borrow it for free when it is released.
Other Places To Find Free Digital Books
- Lendle – Many, but not all, Kindle books are actually lendable (for one time only). Lendle is a free service that connects Kindle book owners with others interested in lending/borrowing Kindle books. Available titles are limited to whomever has signed up and offered to share their lendable Kindle books, but it’s still worth a browse to see if there’s something there you might like. Also, you can sign up and offer your Kindle books to lend, too!
- Your public library – most public library systems have adopted the technology to lend ebooks to patrons. Through software like Overdrive, you can connect your phone, tablet, PC, or even Kindle to your library and borrow available titles. More are becoming available every day!
I’m Curious To Know…
What do you think about Kindle Unlimited? Do you think you’ll sign up for the 30 day free trial?
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