Checking out Kindle Unlimited

July 18, 2014

As I anticipated in my reading roundup, this morning Amazon launched its ebook and audiobook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited.  It’s not yet available to Canadians, but I was able to use my company’s US address to sign up for the 30 day free trial to check it all out.

Kindle Unlimited is competing with other ebook subscription services such as Scribd and Oyster.  I currently have a Scribd subscription, but I tend not to use it very much, mainly because it’s not tightly integrated with the rest of my ebook library.  Also, I’m not so fond of the app for Android – it doesn’t have the same options as full Kindle books.

The good

Like most of the Amazon ecosystem, Kindle Unlimited is very easy to use.  You can browse the titles from the Kindle Unlimited link on the homepage:

Kindle browse

When you choose a title it will say Read for Free


Also you can navigate from your Kindle Fire:  a KU book will say Read for Free

Screenshot 2014 07 18 09 56 07

Note that you cannot pick up audiobooks on their own.  They must be paired with a Kindle Unlimited ebook with Whispersync for Voice.  There is a section called Listen and Take the Story with you.  If you choose a book from there, it will be paired with the Audible audiobook.

Once you click on read for free, the book is added to your Kindle library like any other book.  It does have a symbol beside it stating it was from the Kindle Unlmited selection


Any matched Audible audiobook appears in your Audible library with a similar note


All of the books I tested worked perfectly.  In addition, they remained in my library when I switched back to my Canadian address, although I was unable to add any more new books.

In terms of ease of use Kindle Unlimited integrates perfectly with the Amazon/Audible ecosystem unlike its competitors.

The bad

US only.  Sigh.  

With Kindle Unlimited you’re renting the books in a sense.  If you let your subscription lapse, they will disappear from your library.  

The selection doesn’t include books from the Big Six publishing houses, so the selection doesn’t include a great deal of popular titles.  None of the books I had on my Amazon wish list were available for Kindle Unlimited. I did found several that interested me, mainly The Lord of the Rings.  I had the one volume compendium, but the three individual books came with the audiobooks.  There were also a few cat mysteries which I picked up as well as a supernatural suspense or two.  Scribd on the other hand is partnered with HarperCollins so, for example, all of Robin Hobb’s backlist is available.

I will certainly be monitoring the selection over the next month, but given that apart from the Lord of the Rings audiobooks there was nothing I picked up today that I would be sorry to lose from my library I suspect I will not be renewing my subscription.  Maybe IF it comes to Canada and IF the selection is expanded I might consider it.

By all means, take advantage of the free month to check it out for yourselves, if you’re in the US.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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