Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription – 9 things to know
Facts listed below will help you decide whether it’s worth spending $9.99 a month for Kindle Unlimited.
Kindle Unlimited was launched by Amazon in July 2014. Since that time, the catalog of Kindle Unlimited eligible books has grown from 640,000 to over a million.
In this post, you’ll find what Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription offers – and doesn’t offer – to readers.
Kindle Unlimited, just like other ebook subscription services, is suitable for regular, not occasional readers. However, “how many books can I read per month?” is not the right question. The right question you should ask yourself is “how many of the offered books I would be willing to read?”
When narrowing the list to favorite books only, the word “unlimited”, meaning the endless choice of titles to read per month, may become questionable.
Besides the choice of titles, there are some other limitations of Kindle Unlimited, so let’s take a look at them.
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Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription – things to know
1. Kindle Unlimited offers over a million titles
At launch, Kindle Unlimited offered the biggest number of titles among ebook subscription services.
However, other subscription services grow fast enough, and most of them now offer a comparable number of books for comparable fees. Below you’ll find a comparison of ebook subscription services, with a data collected on August 20, 2015:
Ebook subscription services compared
|No. of books||1 million||1 million||1 million||500 thousand|
While the quantities of other ebook subscription services are claimed by respective companies. On the contrary, you can easily explore the catalog of Kindle Unlimited eligible books on Amazon without being a registered subscriber.
Kindle Unlimited grows at a slower pace than Scribd or Oyster. These two services started with a smaller number of books, and now they are equal or slightly larger than Amazon’s ebook subscription.
How does 1 million compare to other Kindle Store numbers?
- the total number of books in the Kindle Store is now over 3.7 million. Therefore, Kindle Unlimited constitutes 27%,
- the number of books available exclusively in the Kindle Store is also around 1,000,000.
When you dig deeper in comparing the numbers you’ll find out, that only about 40,000 Kindle Unlimited books are not exclusive to the Kindle Store.
There are three reasons:
- Kindle Unlimited service is populated by books from Amazon’s self-publishing platform; most authors agree to sell the books exclusively on Amazon to participate in a special promotion program,
- most of the books published by Amazon’s own imprints, like Thomas & Mercer or Montlake, are sold only on Amazon website,
- the books from big publishers are not available via Kindle Unlimited.
Just imagine, how wonderful it would be to have the catalog of Scribd merged with Kindle Unlimited. It would be well over 2 million books on offer!
2. You won’t find too many bestsellers
As I said, major publishers opted out from Amazon’s ebook subscription offer.
You won’t find books from Hachette, MacMillan, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin are not included.
If you want to save money by picking up Kindle Unlimited to read top bestsellers, spend some time on checking out the titles you want to read. Because you won’t find here books from Harper Lee, Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, Dan Brown, or Nora Roberts.
In fact, when you go through the list of the New York Times bestsellers in the Kindle Store, you’ll find few books that are available via Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription.
Other ebook subscription services are not packed with bestsellers and hot new releases, either. However, Scribd and Oyster offer books from HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, or Macmillan.
3. Most of Kindle Unlimited books cost $4.99 or less
The most common reason to start ebook subscription is saving money.
A very clear comparison point is getting a $12.99 ebook for the ebook subscription fee of $9.99.
Unfortunately, it will hardly happen with Kindle Unlimited. Most of the bestsellers released by big publishers, and priced above $10, are excluded from the offer.
Instead, you can expect lots of titles that cost between $0.99 and $4.99. As I already said, Kindle Unlimited is powered by titles published via Amazon. Most of these books have very reasonable prices. Books more expensive than $5 are quite rare.
The fact the book was self-published doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading. Just the opposite – a lot of self-published books are Kindle bestsellers.
If the price is the major factor, let’s make some calculations.
To make Kindle Unlimited a money-saving machine, you’ll have to read:
- at least one $9.99 book a month,
- at least two $4.99 books a month,
- three or more $2.99 books per month,
- ten on more $0.99 books per month.
If you don’t read a lot, but prefer to have a flat fee instead of paying every time for the new book, you’ll probably want to compare Kindle Unlimited with Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The latter service is a part of Amazon Prime membership program and allows to read one book every month.
Below you’ll find a short comparison of the two services.
Kindle Owners’ Lending Library vs Kindle Unlimited
|Number of books to have at a time||1||10|
|Number of books to have a month||1||Unlimited|
|Access from Kindle & Fire device||Yes||Yes|
|Access from Kindle application||No||Yes|
|Number of available titles||1,000,000+||1,000,000+|
|Monthly cost||$8.25 (part of Prime)||$9.99|
4. How to find Kindle Unlimited books
Amazon is so crowded with features, categories, and dedicated subpages, that it’s getting really hard to find books in special categories.
However, it’s good to spend some time to test Kindle Unlimited eligibility against the books on your wishlist. Assuming that the book will be available via Kindle Unlimited, especially when you want a bestseller, can be a source of a disappointment.
Currently, there is no way to check out on a page with a Kindle book details whether this book is included in Kindle Unlimited or not.
There are two ways to find Kindle Unlimited eligible books on Amazon:
- Start browsing from the Kindle Unlimited home page.
- Browse Kindle Store with Kindle Unlimited filter turned on.
1. Browse Kindle Unlimited home page
If you go straight to Kindle Unlimited home page, you’ll see a couple of featured section, followed by the entire catalog of the KU eligible books.
Currently, the featured sections are:
- popular titles,
- popular romance,
- popular club picks,
- popular biographies.
When you scroll down, you’ll see the entire catalog, sorted by featured titles. “Featured” means that a book was hand-picked by editors, based on a sales popularity, number of positive reviews, and a quality of the book.
You can change the sort order to price, average customer review, and publication date. Relying on customer reviews is a good way to find good reads, especially if you haven’t heard about the books and their authors before.
You can narrow down the list of books by selecting one of the categories from the left sidebar.
2. Browse Kindle Store with the Kindle Unlimited filter turned on
Even when you don’t go directly to the Kindle Unlimited home page, you can still narrow down the search results to books that are included in the subscription service.
When browsing Kindle Store, look for the Kindle Unlimited Eligible check box on the left. It usually comes as a first filter option in the left sidebar.
When you use a search box to find the book you like, for instance, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, and check KU eligibility box, you’ll see the book disappear from the search results. It means it’s not available via Kindle Unlimited.
5. Kindle Unlimited is available in selected countries
Kindle Unlimited was launched on Amazon.com as a service addressed to U.S. customers only.
It’s now also available in localized Kindle Stores in selected countries. Here are the Amazon stores and monthly fees. The data was collected on August 20, 2015.
Kindle Unlimited across the world
|Amazon store||Country||Monthly fee|
|Amazon.com||United States (U.S. customers only)||USD 9.99|
|Amazon.co.uk||United Kingdom||GBP 7.99|
What is very important is that international customers of Amazon.com are not eligible to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited via Kindle Store U.S.
Amazon offers over 10 million goods to foreign customers. Kindle books and devices sell to over 180 countries from around the world. Why there is such a restriction with Kindle Unlimited?
Sure, there might be legal issues. However, Most Kindle Unlimited eligible books, especially the ones from KDP self-publishing platform, are sold worldwide.
Why can’t they become available globally via Kindle Unlimited? The basic fix is to add a Kindle Unlimited opt-in check box for self-published authors in their KDP dashboard.
Sure, the number of Kindle Unlimited books available outside US will be smaller. It’s still much more than any of the local ebook platforms could offer.
If Scribd can offer a global ebook subscription, why Amazon can’t?
6. You can keep up to 10 Kindle Unlimited titles at a time
Don’t think of packing your Kindle with hundreds of Kindle Unlimited books, or making extensive collections from them.
You can only keep up to 10 books from Kindle Unlimited in your account at a time.
Other ebook subscription platforms also have such limits. For instance, Scribd has a limit of 20 books.
While this limitation is against the “unlimited” selling proposal of the service, I understand it. When you pack your Kindle with 500 books, you won’t be able to read them at once, anyway.
There is one disadvantage, however: 10-book limit is not enough. It’s below the number of books many readers have in the different stages of reading.
7. The books will be gone when you cancel Kindle Unlimited subscription
Getting too many KU books to the Kindle e-reader or application can be a waste of time because if you don’t read them they will be gone when you cancel your subscription.
Some users try to outsmart the Amazon and think they could load lots of Kindle Unlimited books to their e-reader, cancel the subscription, but keep the books.
It won’t happen. When you cancel the Kindle Unlimited subscription the books will be automatically removed from your Kindle library.
Even if you deregister the device from your Kindle account, the maximum number or books to have at a time is 10, so it doesn’t pay in the end, anyway.
8. Bookmarks, notes, and highlights will be saved after cancelation
All Kindle Unlimited books you add to your account behave like any other Kindle books.
You can add bookmarks and notes, as well as highlight passages of text. The progress, bookmarks, notes, and highlights will be synced between all your Kindle devices and apps.
As you can cancel Kindle Unlimited subscription at any time, the big question is: will everything you added be lost? No. Although after cancelation all Kindle Unlimited books will be removed from your account, Amazon promises to keep your bookmarks, notes, and highlights:
After the billing date passes, you will lose access to Kindle Unlimited books that you have downloaded. However, your bookmarks, notes, and highlights within the book will be saved to your Amazon account. They are available if you access the book in the future.
The last sentence may suggest you’ll have to renew the subscription or buy a particular book to get access to bookmarks.
However, I believe all the bookmarks and notes will be kept in your Kindle account, available online at kindle.amazon.com after you sign in.
9. Kindle Unlimited works on Kindle devices and apps
Finally, a good news. Unlike Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, you don’t need to own an Amazon device (Paperwhite or Fire, for instance) to make use of Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription.
Any Kindle application works with the Amazon’s ebook subscription service. Kindle for iPhone/iPad, Kindle for Android, Kindle for PC and Mac – you can use them right away to access your Kindle Unlimited books.
However, browsing for Kindle Unlimited books is only supported on Kindle devices, Kindle for Android, and Kindle for Samsung. On other devices, you’ll have to use a browser, and visit Amazon site.
Kindle Unlimited – useful links
Below, there are some useful resources that will let you further explore Kindle Unlimited before signing up for the free trial.
- free Kindle reading apps – you’ll be able to read Kindle Unlimited books on them; Kindle e-reader or Amazon Fire tablet is not needed,
- how to download a Kindle Unlimited book – a step-by-step guide on how to get an eligible book to your Kindle app,
- Kindle Unlimited: manage your subscription – you’ll learn here how to cancel your Kindle Unlimited subscription,
- Kindle Unlimited Made Easy – a $0.99 book by Clive Alden, an unofficial tutorial to better understanding Amazon’s ebook subscription.
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