Amazon officially reveals 'Netflix for books' subscription service

Amazon officially reveals 'Netflix for books' subscription service

Summary: Two days after a leaked Amazon website page detailed Kindle Unlimited, the retail giant has formally announced the new subscription service.

TOPICS: Amazon
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Amazon's Kindle Unlimited has been officially announced following leaks that documented the ebook subscription service. 

The new service, dubbed a "Netflix for books," was leaked through the Amazon US website briefly several days ago before being removed. However, the online retail giant has now officially announced the service, which gives users access to over 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of Audible audiobooks for $9.99 a month. 

Popular titles including The Life of Pi, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are available to read, and if you prefer listening to audiobooks, you can access stories including The Handmaid’s Tale and Water for Elephants.

There are no "due dates" on titles, and if users sign up for Kindle Unlimited, Amazon is currently offering a complementary three-month Audible membership. Thirty-day trials, in the same manner as Amazon Prime, are also available. 

"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 of Amazon's Kindle unit. "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."

Kindle Unlimited is compatible with Kindle devices and the Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8.

The subscription service expands upon Amazon's Prime Lending Library, which allows users to loan one book a month from hundreds of thousands of titles in the US and United Kingdom.

Topic: Amazon

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  • Books or Audio...

    but only for the first 3 months? Or how does that work?

    The story starts off saying that you can listen to books as well as read them on Unlimited, then goes on to say that a 3 month Audible subscription is included - which is usually 1 "free" book a month for 9,99€, not unlimited audio books any time you want...
    • You should try re-reading the article

      What she says is that if you sign up now you get the Unlimited access to Amazon's collection of ebooks **PLUS** a free 3 month Audible subscription. That would be two different accounts/services. What are you not getting?
      • This:

        "However, the online retail giant has now officially announced the service, which gives users access to over 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of Audible audiobooks for $9.99 a month."

        So if you are getting the Audible books in the all-you-can-eat plan, why would you want to also have a subscription to buy an audio book a month?

        Or are we talking about a limited range of audiobooks being available in the Unlimited plan and you need to buy the others?
      • Over at Winsupersite

        Paul explains that the 'unlimited' Audible part of the deal is limited to 2000 titles, from well over 100,000 so the trial subscription of the normal Audible does make some sense.
  • As an author

    with a number of books on Amazon, I have to wonder how much this is going to bite into my sales. If people can download and read one of my books through this service, then they won't have to buy it. I can see this leading to considerable loss of sales revenue. For me, not for Amazon.

    This is not the first time Amazon has shown a disregard for authors.

    Doc (
    • That's my concern, as well.

      I, too, have several of my own books available through Amazon. If they're now "renting" the books (with no due or expiration date), how is that going to affect "sales" of my books?

      For non-authors, this might seem like we're being greedy, but remember this: many books require considerable up-front costs to produce the subject matter. My books are automotive how-to books, for which I need to purchase parts (and even entire cars), take trips, contract some services, high-quality photography equipment, etc. If I can't recoup those costs, I can't produce a book. At that point, it adversely affects consumers, because fewer books will be produced.

      I'm very curious how this will impact the industry -- and particularly authors -- because low, low prices may well have very real and very damaging hidden costs.
    • There needs to be revenue sharing

      And it needs to be fair.
      Michael Kelly
      • Everyone is guessing

        Everyone seems to be guessing. Does anyone know how the licensing will work in this situation? I would think the most similar structure would be radio and TV where the material is licensed per play or a fixed rate based on audience size. I think that would fit quite well as you know at any given time how many people have a book checked out. Use a users/hour unit. The transition from a traditional per-copy publishing model may be a rough period.
        Buster Friendly
  • $10 a month to RENT ebooks?

    You have to be kidding! There is NO way in hell I would ever subscribe to this service. Unlike Netflix movies which can be watched in a 2-hour period and then returned - stream as much as you want 24/7 for the same amount - I don't know a lot of people who can finish a book in 2 hours. So in most cases, just buying the book would be a better option - at least then you have the book in your own library. I don't think this one is going to fly. BTW - I did try their Prime program for one year and then cancelled. The books they offered were mostly the $2 unknown stuff that you can usually get for free - the format for their video service was convoluted and limited at best - and the free shipping is something I almost always get anyway. Did not find any real value in the program. Amazon is really stretching trying to grab even more $$ than they already get, but this one is going to fail!
  • I doubt 600,000 comes anywhere near Kindle's catalog

    of ebooks. The devil will be in the details of what is being made available for rental under the subscription. My guess has been (this initiative is no surprise) that Amazon will cut a deal similar to the deal for release of feature films: a window of delay to allow the content providers to reap the rewards of "best seller" hits before they are made available in this way. The vast majority of paper books were pulp or remainder bin fodder after a few months, the vast majority of ebooks are worth less than that. This provides a way for publishers and writers to make a some bucks from titles that readers would never in a million years buy on a single unit basis.
    • Of course their for-purchased catalog is bigger than 600K!

      The question isn't whether this compares to their for-purchased catalog. The question is how it compares to competing services like Scribd and others.

      Plus I think there's some excitement over the prospect that Amazon will be able to leverage its massive scale to get content into the subscription service. Netflix and Spotify are great all-you-can-eat rental services, but their smaller size makes it harder for them to secure content than say, Apple might.
    • It sounds like it's a little less than half, if Amazon is to be believed.

      Amazon claims to have over a million books, and claims that it has about 600,000 books in the Kindle Unlimited program.
  • OverPriced!!

    Here's a crazy thought; I think I will go to my local library and check out 6 or 7 books, a couple of movies on bluray and maybe a jazz recording on an old cd. Wonder what that will cost me .....Surprise, it is free!!!! All over the country..... Free.
  • More

    Oops, forgot to mention that my small town library also has audio books and books online for free if you insist on using that technology!!