As librarians always told us, reading is fun-damental, and now reading is fun-damentally cheap as Amazon launches its Kindle Unlimited monthly e-book subscription plan.
What Netflix did for video streaming, Amazon is doing for e-books. Kindle Unlimited charges $9.99 per month for unfettered access to over 600,000 eBooks and thousands of audiobooks from Audible. The monthly plan allows users to mix-and-match audio and visual as they see fit.
As an enticement, consumers can invest in a free 30-day trial period that is available right now. Membership requires access to a Kindle device or any device that has a Kindle app installed, to which books can be downloaded.
Free Kindle apps are also included, as is Whispersync for Voice, an app that allows seamless transitioning, pass-the-baton transfer from eBook to audiobook and back again, like an dual mode bookmark. Kindle apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8 will allow the use of other platforms for reading books downloaded on the Kindle.
"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 Kindle. "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."
Membership provides access to eBooks that span all reader interests and age groups. The service includes best sellers, new releases, reference books and indie titles. There are over 2,000 audio titles available from Audible that are freely accessible to Kindle Unlimited members. A complimentary three-month subscription to Audible is included for access to over 150,000 more audiobooks. Beyond the three-month trial period, continued access to the bulk of Audible titles will require a separate membership fee.
Access is included to Kindle exclusive titles, an expansive collection of hundreds of thousands eBooks that only exist in the Kindlesphere.
Limitations on Unlimited include the conspicuous absence of titles from five major publishers that include Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette. Consumers also need to be aware that the 30-day free trial period will end with an automatic ongoing membership charged to their credit card -- it is an opt-out system.
Amazon has not revealed how this deal affects royalty payments to authors, but it is an ideal situation for indie authors who are more concerned about just getting their work out there.