With over a million titles in its collection, Kindle Unlimited is by far the best-known eBook subscription service. But it isn’t included with Amazon Prime and costs $10 a month—a hefty fee for a service that mainly relies on self-published authors.
It’s an awkward situation that leaves customers and critics polarized. And that’s understandable. Kindle Unlimited is a steal, but if it doesn’t appeal to your interests or reading habits, it’s not worth your money.
What Is Amazon Kindle Unlimited?
Much like Audible, Kindle Unlimited is an add-on service for Amazon customers. It isn’t included with Prime and costs $10 a month, though Amazon occasionally offers a yearlong Kindle Unlimited membership at a discounted rate. (You don’t need Prime to sign up for Kindle Unlimited.)
The Kindle Unlimited service does what you’d expect—it unlocks millions of eBooks for free. You can download and read these books on any device, including your Kindle, smartphone, Fire tablet, iPad, or computer. But you do not own the books that you read through Kindle Unlimited, and the service only lets you download 20 titles at a time.
While Kindle Unlimited is one of the best-known eBook lending services, it’s not the only option. Services like Scribd compete directly with Kindle Unlimited’s business model, and you can rent digital books from your local library for free using Libby.
Kindle Unlimited Mainly Offers Self-Published Books
Authors who submit their books to Kindle Unlimited aren’t paid for each download. Instead, they’re paid for each page that subscribers manage to read. And the rates are quite low—less than half a cent per page, according to Amazon’s publishing FAQ.
It’s a questionable payout system that major authors and publishers aren’t willing to deal with. So, Kindle Unlimited’s catalog is filled to the brim with self-published romance, sci-fi, and thriller novels. There’s also a huge selection of magazines, including People and Popular Science, plus a decent number of history books.
And while Kindle Unlimited lacks many contemporary classics, it does offer a ton of books from long-dead authors like Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, and Zora Neale Hurston. These titles are published through AmazonClassics and, in my experience, rarely contain typos or other problems.
But the AmazonClassics series tends to focus on books that are public domain, which means that they’re already free to download on sites like Project Gutenberg (and are already included with your Prime account). They also lack the supplemental materials and annotations that are usually included in re-prints by Penguin Random House or HarperCollins.
Classic books that are still under copyright are rarely offered by Kindle Unlimited. And if you want to read any contemporary best-sellers, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, you’re …….