By Steve Windwalker
Amazon has done it again, and as usual, the winners are readers.
This morning the company launched Kindle Unlimited, which after a very nice 30-day free trial will allow readers unlimited reading or listening from among over 639,000 Kindle Books and over 2,000 Audible.com audiobooks. The service will cost $9.99 a month after the free trial, and one easy way to understand what’s being offered is that it’s like “Netflix for ebooks.”
While we expect the catalog of books, author and publishers participating in Kindle Unlimited to blow past the million-title mark this year and continue to expand, the selection even at launch is pretty dazzling. This morning we selected seven titles to include in our daily BookGorilla email alert, just to give our readers a taste of the kind of top-tier, A-list bestsellers that are available absolutely FREE during the free trial:
- The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins
- Capital in the Twenty-First Century By Thomas Piketty
- War Brides By Helen Bryan
- Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt By Michael Lewis
- That Summer Night (Callaways #6) By Barbara Freethy
- Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel By Jonathan Safran Foer
- The Best Medicine (A Bell Harbor Novel) By Tracy Brogan
Winners and Losers
We’ll be watching closely to see what new titles become available, but based on what we see already it seems likely that Kindle Unlimited will be as big a disruptive force for “business as usual” in the publishing world as the Kindle itself has been. We will no doubt continue to see misguided analyses claiming that Amazon will be competing with this, that and the other existing service, but any such “competition” will likely be akin to the centuries-old competition between the hammer and the nail: usually, one doesn’t even get to hear the nail say “ouch.” Nobody is in a position to compete with Amazon on this terrain.
Amazon seems committed to a pretty generous royalty structure for enrolled titles, which we think will ultimately amount to about $2 a copy for authors who participate in its KDP Select program. Given recent negotiations — and the Hachette stalemate — between Amazon and some large publishers, we wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what share those publishers and their associated authors might receive, but publishers who stay on the sidelines may find themselves in an untenable position — both with their authors and with their own corporate bean-counters — as the Kindle Unlimited catalog grows.
For people who read a lot, Kindle Unlimited is going to be awesome. We won’t talk ourselves blue in the face trying to persuade you beyond noting that the seven very popular titles listed above would currently cost you $66.15 in the Kindle Store without Kindle Unlimited. After all, we think all of us will make better use of our time looking for great books to download FREE.
It’s probably silly of us to take any pleasure in having predicted this program almost exactly six years ago on pages 90-91 of the paperback edition of The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle, and we didn’t get it exactly right, anyway. We called it Kindle Buffet, said it would be a Kindle reading subscription plan “on steroids,” and we were way off on how such an offering would be priced: we said it could cost as much as $50 a month. My, how things have changed!
Here’s the guts of Amazon’s press release from earlier today:
Introducing Kindle Unlimited: Unlimited Reading and Listening on Any Device–Just $9.99 a Month
Date(s): 18-Jul-2014 7:30 AM
Read freely from over 600,000 books–available on Kindle devices, as well as free Kindle reading apps for iOS, Android and more
Listen to thousands of audiobooks from Audible, or switch easily between reading and listening with Whispersync for Voice
Enjoy best sellers including the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games trilogy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and Flash Boys
The most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Life of Pi, and Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Start a free 30-day trial today
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 18, 2014— (NASDAQ:AMZN)–Amazon.com today introduced Kindle Unlimited–a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books, and listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, all for only $9.99 a month. Finding a great book is easy, and there are never any due dates–just look for the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles and click “Read for Free.” Customers can choose from best sellers like The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and The Lord of the Rings, and with thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Water for Elephants, the story can continue in the car or on the go. Kindle Unlimited subscribers also get the additional benefit of a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to the full selection of Audible titles. Kindle Unlimited is available starting today and is accessible from Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps. Start your free 30-day trial today here.
“With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre–you can just start reading and listening,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy. We hope you take advantage of the 30-day free trial and try it for yourself.”
Kindle Unlimited features include:
- Unlimited reading: Access over 600,000 books including best sellers like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Water for Elephants, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, All the King’s Men, Wonder Boys, Ask for It, The Princess Bride, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, The Atlantis Gene, Kitchen Confidential, The Sisterhood, Crazy Little Thing, The Blind Side, and The Giver, plus thousands of classics such as Animal Farm, To the Lighthouse, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cat’s Cradle, and The Good Earth, as well as books featuring beloved children’s characters from Sesame Street, and useful reference titles including books from the For Dummies series and Lonely Planet travel guides.
- Unlimited listening: Keep the story going with unlimited access to more than 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, and switch seamlessly between reading and listening to customer favorites like the Hunger Games trilogy, Life of Pi, The Handmaid’s Tale, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, The Great Santini, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Winter’s Tale, Boardwalk Empire, El Narco, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, The Finisher, Johnny Carson, The Stranger I Married, and Life Code.
- Kindle exclusives: Choose from hundreds of thousands of books only found on Kindle, including Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, The Hangman’s Daughter series by Oliver Pötzsch, War Brides by Helen Bryan, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope books, When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath, Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons, and Sick by Brett Battles.
- Short Reads: For a quick escape, select from thousands of books that are 100 pages or less, including Kindle Singles from Stephen King, Andy Borowitz, and Nelson DeMille, and short fiction from Amazon Publishing’s StoryFront imprint.
- Free three-month Audible membership: In addition to the thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible included in Kindle Unlimited, subscribers get a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to more than 150,000 titles.
- Popular Kindle features: Enjoy all the great Kindle features customers love such as Whispersync, Popular Highlights, X-Ray, customer reviews, and Goodreads integration.
- Read and listen everywhere: Access across Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8–so you always have your library with you and never lose your place.