July 20, 2014
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited To Offer Netflix-Like Subscription Service For Book Lovers
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Call it Netflix for avid readers: Amazon has unveiled a new monthly subscription service that will allow members to have open access to a catalog of 600,000 Kindle e-books and “thousands” of audio books.
The service is called Kindle Unlimited, and according to a Friday column by Brian Fung of the Washington Post, anyone willing to pony up the $9.99 monthly fee can browse through the online retailer’s bookstore and download any available title that sports the service’s orange logo at no additional cost.
The service will not be exclusive to Amazon’s own Kindle line of products, as the Wall Street Journal reports that it will also be available for iOS and Android powered mobile devices via the Kindle app. The subscription service will also come with a 30-day free trial to allow those on the fence about the service to get a feel for it.
At first glance, 600,000 might sound like a lot of books, but as CNNMoney’s Brian Stelter and James O'Toole point out, that figure represents only a fraction of all of the Kindle e-books offered by Amazon. So while you will be able to read books in popular series such as “The Hunger Games” and “The Lord of the Rings,” offerings from some major publishers are not included.
“So far, however, none of the five biggest publishers appear to be making their books available through the service,” said New York Times reporter Alexandra Alter. “HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster, for example, are not participating, representatives from the three companies confirmed. Penguin Random House and Macmillan declined to comment, but a search on Amazon suggests that they are not making their books available.”
In addition, since some authors have their works published by multiple companies, some of your favorite author’s titles might be available, while others may not. As Stelter and O’Toole explain, this is a byproduct of the sometimes contentious relationship between Amazon and publishing houses, which included allegations of price fixing in 2013.
Kindle Unlimited is not the only book subscription service on the market – Scribd, for instance, offers 400,000 titles for $8.99 per month, while Oyster costs $9.95 and offers roughly 500,000 books. It could have an advantage over its rivals, however, due to the popularity of the Amazon name (the retailer reported a 23 percent increase in first quarter sales back in April).
While Bloomberg’s Jing Cao wrote that plans such as these offer “a more affordable option for heavy readers,” not everyone agrees with that assessment. In fact, Huffington Post writer Dino Grandoni calls Kindle Unlimited “essentially an e-book version of your free neighborhood library, except it costs money.”
Grandoni explains that the argument in favor of Kindle Unlimited over library cards is that “going to the library requires putting pants on and... going to the library,” but libraries in many larger cities do allow free e-book downloads over the Internet. Nonetheless, he added, “plenty of people will choose Amazon over their government-run library system because they will expect Kindle Unlimited to be faster and more convenient to use.”