After an inadvertent leak earlier in the week, Amazon today launched a new e-book subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, offering unlimited reading from a catalog of more than 600,000 books for $9.99/month.
It’s a new wrinkle for the Kindle business, and the latest move by Amazon to shake up the traditional publishing industry. The books in the catalog include many from Amazon’s own publishing imprints, as well as self-published authors and smaller publishing houses, but the five major U.S. publishers don’t appear to be involved in a significant way, as noted by Laura Hazard Owen of GigaOm, who broke the story earlier this week.
Some big franchises are included, such as the Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games novels.
The books can be read on Kindle devices or on Kindle reading apps for phones and third-party tablets including iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8, PC, Mac and BlackBerry. Subscribers can keep up to 10 books at a time on up to six devices or apps.
That’s different from Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, in which Amazon Prime members can borrow one book at a time but need to be using a Kindle device. That’s part of the Amazon Prime subscription service, which costs $99/year, and offers other benefits including free two-day shipping. There doesn’t appear to be any Amazon Prime tie-in with the new Kindle Unlimited service.
Kindle Unlimited comes with access to 2,000 audiobooks that can be used in conjunction with e-books, using Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice. Amazon is also offering a three-month trial membership to Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook service, as part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription.
One random note from the Kindle Unlimited help pages: Kindle Unlimited subscribers need to have 1-Click payments enabled to use the service.