If you’re an avid reader, I have good news for you. On the morning of July 18, 2014, Amazon Inc. announced a new service specially designed for book fans. The name of the service is “Kindle Unlimited”, a new e-book subscription service.
But while Amazon is now the biggest name in the “Netflix for books” business, it’s not the only option. Jeff Bezos has decided to collide head to head with other companies with a similar business model, (e.g., Oyster and Scribd).
At $9.99 per month, Kindle Unlimited is slightly more expensive than the competition. Scribd is priced at $8.99 a month, and Oyster at $9.95. All three offer a free trial month period.
Not surprisingly, Amazon comes out on top in terms of the sheer number of e-books included. The company says Kindle Unlimited includes more than 600,000 titles, plus “thousands” of audio books. Oyster says it has more than 500,000 titles. Scribd, for it’s part, has more than 400,000.
Kindle Unlimited works with all Kindle device and, via the Kindle app, can be used on most smartphones, tablets and computers. Scribd has apps for the iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. Oyster users can reach the service on Apple and Android devices, Kindle Fire and the Nook HD.
One word of caution. Amazon doesn’t offer books for several large publishers such as Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House. The “Big Five” has decided not to jump on Amazon’s bandwagon, at least not for now.
On the other hand Scribd and Oyster, both offer books from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. In additon, each has a few notable deals with smaller publishers: Oyster has books from McSweeney’s and Rodale, while Scribd offers Lonely Planet guides and reference books from Wiley.
Books that can be downloaded free as part of the subscription have an orange “Kindle Unlimited” icon under the title, along with a price tag of $0.00.
This announcement doesn’t mean anything to me. I’ll admit that I buy e-books from Amazon, but on a need be basis. Whenever I want to read a new book, I go ahead and unload it and read it in one of the several reading devices with the Kindle app. I really don’t read that much, so I would be reluctant to bind myself with a monthly subscription which will nibble away at my budget every month. Others might have a larger appetite and consume several books a month; for them this might sound like music to their ears. Me? I’m good!