All-you-can eat subscription services are becoming the norm in the digital world. First there was Netflix, for TV and movies. Then Spotify (and many others) gave us a similar buffet table for music. Now Amazon is jumping into the e-book subscription game, with its new Kindle Unlimited service.
Kindle Unlimited offers up thousands of e-books and audiobooks for a very Spotify-esque flat monthly fee of US$9.99. The service is live today, and is compatible with all of Amazon's existing Kindle devices and mobile apps (including Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Windows and Mac).
What about the selection? Well, we'd say it looks pretty solid – and includes many carryovers from Amazon's Prime Lending Library. You can find Kindle Unlimited books either by searching (it will let you know if any Kindle book you search for is part of the package) or by browsing a new Unlimited section of the Kindle Store.
The selection includes series like the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games, as well as classics like Animal Farm, 2001: A Space Odyssey and All the King's Men. It looks like a significant enough selection, but – make no mistake – there are enough holdouts that Amazon won't quit selling individual Kindle books anytime soon. Much like with Netflix, you won't want to hold your breath for many chart-topping current best-sellers.
US customers can test drive the service for 30 days, though Amazon's fine print does promise that, unless you cancel, it will start automatically charging your card after those 30 days expire. At launch, Kindle Unlimited is only available in the US, but I imagine we'll see it expand beyond American soil before long.
So is this the next phase in e-reading? Is Amazon right to cannibalize a portion of its e-book sales to better fend off competing services (like Oyster) that were already moving in this direction? Only time will tell. In the meantime, if you're test-driving Kindle Unlimited, why not drop us a line in the comments to let us know what you think of the selection.