Saturday, July 19, 2014

What Is Kindle Unlimited?

by Cindy Gunnin

Following the basic model of Oyster and Scribd, Amazon announced this week that it will offer Amazon Unlimited, a program designed to allow readers monthly access to ebooks and audio books.

The subscription service covers more than 600,000 books and 2,000 audioboks, according to an article in the New York Times, but what it doesn’t include is most of the major publishing houses. Three of the five largest publishing houses, including Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins have already indicated they will not be participating. Initial speculation is that Penguin, Random House, and Macmillan may also prevent the inclusion of their authors’ books.

The premise of the subscription service, much like Netflix, is that subscribers can download and read as many ebooks per month as they want -- all for the $10 per month subscription fee.

What is unclear in the Amazon model is how authors and publishers will be paid for usage of their books. Under other subscription services, the publisher and by extension the author, receive a payment whenever a book is downloaded and a certain percentage of it is read.

For consumers, the new service becomes essentially a paid library card that allows you to borrow books from the Amazon library as long as you continue paying. When the subscription lapses, previously downloaded books will be removed from the customer’s device.

One of the many advantages of the program is the ability to switch between reading a book and listening to the audiobook. With the WhisperSync technology available on the Kindle, the audio will start on the same page where the customer was last reading. If listeners want to switch to reading instead, the technology will take them immediately to the right place in the book.

A great many best-selling books, including The Hunger Games, are available using Amazon Unlimited as are many independently published books. To determine if a book is available on Amazon Unlimited, the user simply searches for the book as usual. Books that are available with the unlimited package have a yellow-orange listing with the other pricing information and list the price as $0.00.

Amazon has an introductory video available on the home page and a link to the terms of service, which indicate that the books will remain property of Amazon and deleted from the device when the subscription lapses.

Customers interested in the service can try it out for free during the introductory month. After the first month, the service will autobill to a credit card on a monthly basis. Another interesting aspect of the service that is noted in the terms of service is that the service must be billed to a credit card. Debit cards and automatic bank payments (direct withdrawal from a checking account) are not available as payments at this time.

1 comment:

  1. This is a pretty interesting concept for books but I really think there will be a lot of issues with how authors are compensated. Which is probably why some of the big time publishers didn't want to participate. The fact that Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins are out makes me less inclined to participate in this program simply because some of my favorite authors are with these publishers. Thanks for taking the time to explain this, it has cleared up a few questions I had after hearing about this service.


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