The New Amazon’s e-Books Subscription Service


Credit: Amazon Inc.

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!

Good Day.

8 thoughts on “The New Amazon’s e-Books Subscription Service”

  1. Living here in Panama where it’s extremely difficult to find English-language books I am grateful for Kindle content. But also, being on a fixed income which stretches wonderfully down here, I make use of Amazon’s FREE selections most of all. Go to the Amazon book site, click on “Best Sellers” and then click on “Top 100 Free.” Granted, most of it is NOT great literature, but, then again, most of what the top five publishers are offering the public these days isn’t either. I’d say the majority of the free book genres are mysteries (which I happen to enjoy), romances (which I DON’T enjoy or read) and zombie/vampire/supernatural books (which I also don’t read). In the last few years I’ve found some authors I’ve really enjoyed and have read most of their output.

    Over on the left side of the Best Seller’s page is a list of categories of books Kindle offers and many of them are free as well. Pick a subject and then you have the option of having the books listed “Price low to high.” Right now I’m reading about Balboa which was a free book.

    Sure, there’s a lot of garbage in the free stuff. There’s a lot of garbage in books you have to pay $14.95 for, and then you only get an electronic version of the book and not one made out of dead trees. But here’s the great thing about the free books (other than the money you save)…if, after a chapter or two you find you don’t care for the book you can dump it and all you’ve lost is an hour or so of time you’ve spent reading it.

    Also, the “Kindle Unlimited” deal is a HORRIBLE deal for the authors. Having a book for sale at Amazon, I get a couple of newsletters about publishing electronically and the “Unlimited” deal gives authors pennies each time a book is selected as opposed to someone actually buying it. I won’t get into how it all works except to say that when a book is SOLD to someone through Amazon the author gets up to 75% of the cover price.

  2. In my case, buying English books is extremely difficult. I prefer to buy only the books I’m interested in reading and, if the price is within my means, I just download it and in less than a minute, I’m done. Kindle so far is the best option out there.

    I don’t mind paying $10.00 if it is a good book. Researching on a book and author is something I do before coughing in my limited resources. 99% percent of the time it works.

    Right now I’m reading, “Our Man in Havana” authored by Graham Green. I paid $9.99 for this e-book. So far it is as interesting as I thought it would be.

    Thank you for a thorough comment on Kindle and its free books.

    1. The film version of Our Man In Havana, with Alec Guinness was fantastic. Also, Graham Greene is a wonderful author. Greene was an actual spy with MI6, you know. One of my favorite Greene books is “Travels With My Aunt.”

      1. There another Graham Greene’s book that is on the top of my reading list is “The Quiet American” based on the Vietnam War. Vietnam was a military conflict that always caught my attention. It started and developed during the Cold War in 1954 and practically destroyed LBJ who drank himself to death.

        I understand Graham Green worked under spy master Kim Philby, one of the Cambridge Five British spies. I always enjoyed reading about spies stories, specially during the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War. So much happened during that historical period.

        With Vladimir Putin another Cold War is showing its ugly face. The Ukraine situation doesn’t look good, specially the downing of the Malaysian passenger plane by Russian-backed Ukrainian militiamen.

    1. Hello Jim and Nena:

      As you probably know, I’m a history buff. Been reading about History since I was a kid. Ancient history was my preferred reading, specially about Ancient Greece during the reign of Pericles.

      Another piece of history which I also like to dig in as much as I can is the Vietnam War. There are so many interesting articles, documentaries, movies and books about this military conflict, that’s it’s difficult to catch up.

      I’m not very familiar with the history of the American Civil War. However, I was fortunate in viewing the film, “Saving Lincoln” directed by Salvador Alex Litvak using amazing black and white photographs of that period. Understand he found these photographs at the U.S. Library of Congress. It struck me so much, that I’m inclined to read the book “Team of Rivals” about Lincoln’s political life.

      Thanks for the link. I noticed several links to literature about the Vietnam War. So much to read, so little time—albeit I’m a retiree.

      Saludos,

      Omar.-

      1. Hola,
        The guy most responsible for ehistory is Scott Laidig. He did 2 tours in Vietnam as a Marine. Later in his career, he is mentioned in the book, “Blind Man’s Bluff”, a fascinating read. I worked with his kid brother before his death a few years ago. If you go to Amazon, pull up the book and search for Laidig, the references to him are shown.
        jim

  3. Morning Jim and Nena:

    Last night I started reading the book “America in Vietnam written by Dr. John Guilmartin. I found the online-book in your suggested site, ehistory.

    Everyday I find new information about this highly controversial subject. In my opinion, the American people have not still got over the malaise of this conflict. Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan have only added gasoline to the fire.

    Thank you for your recommendation. Will take a look at Mr. Laidig’s book.

    Take Care,

    Omar.-

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