Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service offered by Amazon that allows you to read an unlimited number of ebooks from a specific catalog. The books range from classics, like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes) by Arthur Conan Doyle, to modern bestsellers, like Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover and Quick Silver by Dean Koontz.
Beyond those heavy hitters, though, is a deep catalog of fantastic cozy mysteries, amateur sleuths, female detectives, and traditional mysteries written by authors like me who are self-published or just getting started. They’ve got four-star and five-star reviews, but they don’t have a big five publisher behind them.
Kindle Unlimited gives authors like us more exposure and a chance to reach readers who are craving new mysteries and new authors. Kindle Unlimited is essentially perfect for the reader who devours ebooks like Hercule Poirot devours a dish of escargot.
One misconception about Kindle Unlimited is that you have to own a Kindle device to use the subscription service. Not true. As long as you can download the Kindle app (which is supported on most phones and tables) you can read books in the Kindle Unlimited catalog. I have the Kindle app on my iPhone, which is the device on which I read books.
The most obvious advantage to the Kindle Unlimited program is for voracious readers. You can easily spend more than the monthly fee on one book in a month. Signing up for the program means you’re saving money, even if you ready just two books a month.
But the advantage that’s not as obvious is the browsing advantage. Since there’s no penalty for starting and abandoning a book in the program, you can start an unlimited amount of books until you find one you want to read. You don’t have to gamble your money on a book you might like. Even reading a free chapter or two of a book is sometimes not enough to tell you if you’ll really like a book. That’s gold for a reader like me who can’t stand wasting time on books that don’t hold my interest in the first chapter.
Kindle Unlimited also offers free audiobooks as part of the program that sync with the book you’re reading. However, not every book has a companion audiobook. When you’re searching for books in Kindle Unlimited, look for a pair of orange headphones next to the ebook listing. On an ebook listing, you should also look for the “Read and listen for free” button. Remember, Kindle Unlimited isn’t an Audible subscription. For that you need to sign up separately, but you can listen to select books for free through the Kindle Unlimited program.
What Others Are Saying
“Kindle Unlimited also includes audiobooks and a clever feature that syncs your place in a book whether you’re listening to the audio version or reading the text version. So you can be reading a book at home and then switch to the audio version if you’re working out or driving to work. That’s a neat feature, and one not available on Oyster or Scribd, though it works on a small selection of books — about 7,800 by Amazon’s count.” – New York Times
“Note too that all Lonely Planet guides are available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers—something to keep in mind if you’re planning a multi-country tour. With a Kindle, you also gain access to countless self-published guides written by locals and expatriates that are super cheap and unavailable in dead-tree formats.” – New York Times
“Even if you do read enough to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited, be aware that you don’t get to choose any book in Amazon’s vast library. Five major publishers — Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, MacMillan and Penguin — have all opted out of the plan. That means you won’t be reading much Steven King or Dan Brown on Kindle Unlimited, nor can you read Brad Thor’s Act of War, the book currently* sitting atop the New York Times bestseller list.” – CBS News
For someone whose hobby is reading, Kindle Unlimited is a no brainer. There’s an endless supply of books to sample, download, and finish. For someone who is a leisurely reader, the monthly will not make sense. The best thing to do is check out your Goodreads “read” or “finished” tally, or add up how much you’ve spent on books in a month for the last six months or so, and compare that total to the monthly fee to decide if Kindle Unlimited is worth it.
Can’t decide? Try it for free for 30 days. Just mark it on your calendar when to cancel so you don’t get charged.
*Article was published in 2014.