Leaked on Wednesday, launched on Friday: Meet Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s e-book subscription service. Think of it as Netflix for e-books.
Like Netflix, the idea is that the service will provide unfettered access to all the content you might imagine for a single subscription price. Yet that’s more a fantasy than reality.
Amazon’s e-book subscription service includes about 640,000 e-books for Kindle. That’s certainly plenty, more than any person could expect to read in a lifetime. And yet it may not contain the books people want to read.
Is Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” included in Kindle Unlimited? No. E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t there either. James Patterson may publish piles of bestsellers annually, but only one thing by him is available through Kindle Unlimited -- a collection of four very short stories published as a Kindle Edition, 31 pages total.
And don’t try getting Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices” from Kindle Unlimited. A search for it turns up a book that shares its title, a self-published pirate romance, and a novel titled “Hard Choices When Porn Enters Your Life.” It does not suggest looking for Clinton’s memoir elsewhere on the site, where it could be purchased from Amazon as an e-book or in print.
These books don’t appear in Kindle Unlimited because none of the five major publishers has signed on. Amazon’s terms in other areas of its business have been difficult for publishers to accept.
One, Hachette, is currently in the midst of unspecified contract negotiations with Amazon. As retaliation for not meeting its terms, Amazon has made it impossible to pre-order many Hachette books and is delaying shipments of others.
What can be found? The first three books in Jeff Kinney’s popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, published by Abrams. It’s not clear how the publisher or author are being compensated, GigaOm reports.
Amazon is offering readers a 30-day free trial, after which it costs $9.99 per month. Subscribers will be able to borrow up to 10 of the books in the Kindle Unlimited service at a time. Audiobooks are also available.
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