Well that was fast. Today Amazon has officially launched Kindle Unlimited, a subscription-based ebook service that some are calling “Netflix for Books.” The news comes just two days after test pages for Kindle Unlimited were discovered online.
At $9.99 a month, subscribers will have unlimited access to over 600,000 downloadable books and over 2,000 audiobooks with Whispersync for Voice, a feature that allows you to switch between listening and reading right where you left off. Kindle Unlimited does not, however, give you unlimited access to Audible, Amazon’s audiobook service, since starting your subscription gives you a free three-month Audible membership.
The service starts with a 30-day free trial, and it also includes popular series like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings. Interestingly, the number of books offered seems to be about on par with what we’d heard about the other day, which seems to not include books from the “Big Five.” That means titles from Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster are off the table.
Even still, considering what is on offer, chances seem good that users will find plenty to enjoy here. In terms of cost, ten dollars a month sounds like a hefty amount at first, especially since it invites comparisons to Netflix, which itself costs only $8 at the moment. Even after Netflix hikes its prices in the next two years, it’ll still be a buck less than Kindle Unlimited.
That said, the last few books I bought for my Kindle actually cost around $10 each, making me wonder why $10 a month for unlimited books makes me balk. When I start to think that way, it seems a lot more feasible. Then again, the book series I’ve been reading are published by Hachette – that means they’re not even on the service anyway, so I get to start wondering what I should do all over again.
It’s also not clear how Kindle Unlimited will affect authors or publishers in terms of royalties. Will authors get money every time a book is downloaded? I assume that amount would be less than the rate for if a book is outright purchased. Or perhaps authors are compensated a flat fee each month just for having their books listed on the service. I’m sure we’ll find out more as Kindle Unlimited gets underway and users start signing up. [Update! This post on TechCrunch explains how it all works.]
Speaking of signing up, will you?