Amazon's Kindle Unlimited offers 600,000 e-books for $10 a month

The service dissociates reading from payment, providing Amazon with another weapon in its pricing war with publishers

Even the most voracious readers will take a few months to get the most out of Amazon.com's latest offer: access to 600,000 e-books and 2,000 audiobooks for a monthly fee of US$9.99. What publishers and authors will get out of it remains to be seen.

Subscribers to the new service, available only in the U.S. for now, will see a "Read for Free" logo next to included titles when they are logged in and browsing the company's catalog online from a Kindle device or using the Kindle reading app on a PC.

Amazon is offering a 30-day free trial of the service, and new subscribers will get free access to the 150,000-title Audible audiobook library for three months, it said.

Although Amazon calls the service "unlimited," there are of course limitations: Customers can only borrow up to 10 books at a time, rather than keep an unlimited number on their device. The books have a DRM (digital rights management) wrapper, and borrowed books can only be accessed with a valid subscription, the company said.

The book selection contains recent top sellers such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series. However, a search for Kindle Unlimited titles also quickly reveal hundreds of short, independently-published straight-to-Kindle stories that would cost just over a dollar to buy. There are also multiple editions of classics including George Orwell's Animal Farm, one of the titles Amazon highlighted in its news release, the duplicates all counting toward the 600,000-book total.

News of the planned service leaked Wednesday, when Amazon inadvertently published details to a page on its website titled "KU Test."

The launch of Kindle Unlimited opens a new front in Amazon's war with book publishers to control prices for e-books, as it dissociates the act of reading from a specific payment to a publisher or author.

Amazon has recently been criticized for delaying delivery of books by French publisher Hachette, refusing to maintain significant inventory of the books until Hachette agrees to give it more flexibility on e-book pricing.

Kindle Unlimited will also spell trouble for e-book rental service Oyster, which also charges $10 per month. It launched its service with an iPhone app last September, and earlier this month released a version for Android users.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesconsumer electronicsamazon.come-readersinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?