The retail mogul Amazon has taken a moment to train their focus back on the literary world. They have announced that along with their Amazon Prime membership, which allows customers with a Kindle to access the Kindle Owners Lending Library in order to swap their favorite titles with each other, they will be releasing Kindle Unlimited. This service will give users unlimited access to over six hundred thousand e-books, including popular titles such as The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, and thousands of audiobooks on any device supporting Kindle Applications. At $9.99 a month the service would ultimately be more expensive than Amazon Prime, which also gives members access to a selection of movies and television shows, along with shipping discounts and more.
There is some debate on the specific number of audiobooks that will be available through Kindle Unlimited. Gigaom reports that the test page claimed over seven thousand titles, while Time reports a much more modest two thousand. Regardless, the audio library is significantly more limited than the e-book portion, perhaps due to Audible, which was purchased by Amazon. The subscription fee to Audible, the audiobook side of Amazon is closer to fifteen dollars a month, a far cry from the ten dollars Kindle Unlimited asks for, and Audible’s membership does not offer unlimited audiobooks, just a discount and one free audiobook credit a month. It will be interesting to see if they can come to an agreement, or if Audible will change it’s fees or find a way to offer it’s own unlimited membership. If Amazon can find a way to keep the audiobook section of Kindle Unlimited it will be another selling point that puts them ahead of similar services such as Oyster and Scribd.
While six hundred thousand seems like a lot of e-books to offer, it is important to note that none of the big-5 publishers (Hatchette, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster) seem to be available on the Kindle Unlimited page. Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins, however, are available with Oyster and Scribd. It is also important to ask if these publishing houses will come to an agreement, or continue the stalemate which could stem from previous disagreements with Amazon over what they claim to be unsatisfactory pricing of their e-books.
Publishers that can be found on Kindle Unlimited include Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Harvard University Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road Media, W.W. Norton, and Workman.
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