Tuesday, February 10, 2015

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT KINDLE UNLIMITED




At Christmas time last year I decided to reward all my free time with some free books. I've always been an avid reader, despite the slacking off over the last couple years. And how wonderful it would be to have all/most of my reading pleasure on my Kindle Fire (or other Kindle aps).

Does the word FREE appeal to you also? Yeah, I thought so. Except "free" and "unlimited" do not mean the same to Kindle as it means to me.

After the free 30 day trial, "read for free" costs $9.99 per month. This price tag took me a little while to ponder, but I accepted the condition. As mentioned above, I've always been an avid reader, and with unlimited access to "over 640,000 ebooks to choose from as well as over 7,000 audio books," I was sure I could "purchase" more than a mere $10 worth of novels per month. So many books, and no need to be picky. If I don't like it, well it was just part of the monthly package.

Turns out I should have been pickier - or at least have read this article that explains exactly what restrictions and conditions apply to the term "unlimited." Let me highlight just a few of the eight things readers need to know:

2. You won’t find a lot of bestsellers . . .Major publishers opted out from Amazon’s ebook subscription offer. Books from Hachette, MacMillan, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin are not included. In fact, when you go through the list of the New York Times bestsellers in the Kindle Store, you’ll find few that are available via Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription.
3. Don’t expect huge savings – most of Kindle Unlimited books cost $2.99 or less. . . you can expect lots of titles priced $0.99 or $2.99. It’s because Kindle Unlimited is mostly populated by titles from Amazon’s self-publishing platform – Kindle Direct Publishing.
5. You can keep up to 10 Kindle Unlimited titles at a time. It’s below the number of books many readers have at different stage of reading. It’s definitely not enough for anyone who’d like to use Kindle Unlimited for studying.

The advertisement that grabbed my attention and had me signing up for my free trial period read:
Kindle Unlimited gives you the freedom to explore. Try new genres, discover new authors, and dive into new adventures with unlimited access to our wide and varied selection of books.
From rhetoric to romance, or comedy to tragedy, you will find unlimited stories waiting to be discovered. Relive the classics you grew up with, start on that best seller you've been wanting to read or try one of the hundreds of thousands of books you won’t find anywhere. Find your next great read today.

 After two months of subscribing to this unlimited service, I was starting to understand on own with regards to points 2 and 3 above. The real shock came the other day when several book recommendations from Amazon arrived in my e-mail, and in viewing the list I discovered four books that I wanted to add to my Kindle. So I clicked on one to "read for free", and instead of seeing the message that my purchase would be auto-delivered to my chosen device, I was informed that I had reached my 10 book limit, and in order to read anything more for free I would have to return the previously downloaded books.

What?!!!? I don't own the books I pay $9.99 a month to read? What really sucks, since I have not read any of the Kindle Unlimited downloads, is that ". . . after cancellation all Kindle Unlimited books will be removed from your account . ." This means that when I cancel this account I will have to pay an additional fee to actually BUY the books I already paid a fee to READ FOR FREE.

If I were to rate and review Kindle Unlimited, I'd give it 2 stars (a good concept if not well executed) and accuse the company of false advertising for readers, and ripping off self-published authors. All over a measly $0.99.

45 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth S. Craig posted about how it's hurting the sales of a lot of authors, because why buy the book when you can get it for free.
I think Kindle Unlimited is more like a library service, which is why you have to return the books.
I use the Kindle app on my iPad when there's no other place to get the book, but otherwise, I buy from the iBookstore. Once I've downloaded a book, it's mine forever.

Stacy McKitrick said...

From an author--I'm kind of glad you don't get to keep KU books. And I also wonder how much longer the service will last once the free period is over with. $9.99 a month is kind of steep for something you can do at the library for free (and yes, you can get e-books at the library without ever stepping in the library -- at least you can with mine). Of course, my books aren't available at the library (yet), but I'm sure if someone (a reader) requested a copy, the library could probably get one. If money is an issue, the library is something to look into.

Pat Hatt said...

It is pretty much like a library. Has it's positives and negatives like everything else

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

That's too bad. I was under different assumptions but never signed up for Kindle Unlimited. I wonder if Amazon customer service might be able to help or at least field a complaint so that they know their product sucks. Are there other benefits? Like can you get free shipping on stuff or download free movies? Hmm.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Thank you!!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

In July 2009, Amazon discovered two of George Orwell's books had been digitally uploaded to its Kindle e-book store by a company that didn't own the rights.

Amazon pulled the e-books from its site and remotely deleted copies from customers' Kindles without notice. That they could do that came as a shock. I thought any book I bought from them was mine.

Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble can revoke access to your ebooks, music and software any time they want!

All the books on your Kindle are not yours.

They belong to Amazon.

All that cash you have paid was simply to access these books on your Kindle. You have not paid to own the books.

If you want to own books, pay for physical printed books and get Amazon to send them to you by post.

Rather unsettling, right?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It does sound more like a library service. And real libraries are free.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

If I lived in the States and had access to libraries, it wouldn't appeal to me. But since I don't, I kept it after my 30 day free trial and have really enjoyed it. Did you know that Amazon is a traditional publisher with 14 imprints? They have thousands of books out, vetted and edited, and all are on Kindle Unlimited. These are the ones I'm enjoying as well as a few self-published authors I've discovered.

dolorah said...

Alex; I don't like the idea of hurting authors. I think I'll check out the ibook store.

Stacy: I don't mind borrowing a book from a library, but that is not what I thought KU was. As you say, why pay to borrow a book.

Pat: right now I'm not seeing many positives.

Mike: no shipping fees for a Kindle download. I think I can get a free movie or music download, but again, it is something to be returned in order to get more.

Dixie: buyer beware!

Roland: I love paper books because once they are on my shelf I own them. And can lend them to whomever I choose. It is scary to think Amazon can just take books away from me, even ones I have purchased outright. Who says the digital age is better?

Diane: exactly.

Karen: I did not know they were a traditional publisher. I don't mind reading self-published books, lots of very good authors out there, but I do want to own the books I pay for. I am glad KU has benefits for some people. Perhaps if I wasn't such a slow reader this feature would work for me as well.

Angela Brown said...

Kindle Unlimited is a creature that is showing it's nature day by day, experience by experience. I'm not sure if it will stay around for a while, but I guess we'll see how things go, especialy if they find more and more readers turning away from the program.

Madeline Jane said...

Reading unlimited books for $10 a month sounds too good to be true, and I guess it is. Sure you don't get to keep books from the library, but reading for free the old fashion way is never a bad way to go.

Lady Lilith said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. This looks like something I am not sure will work for me.

cindyfazzi said...

I don't know much about KU so this is all news to me. Thanks for sharing and also for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

Christine Rains said...

Thanks for the review of KU. I have no like of it myself. It's definitely not something that would work for me.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow. Thanks for the heads up on that.

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't care for the program. If I want to read a particular book I'm going to download it regardless of the cost.

dolorah said...

Angela: I don't think it should stay around.

Madeline: at least the Library doesn't pretend you can keep the books, and you can only check out so many at a time. KU lies to its customers.

Lilith: you're welcome.

Cindy: I enjoyed your post today :)

Christine: at least you would be informed.

Donna: you're welcome

Steve; yeah, it was a failed experiment. Chalk it up to experience.

Medeia Sharif said...

These are the reasons why I never joined. I looked at the books I really wanted to read, and most of them weren't on the program. Also, many of the books that were on the list were already cheap, or I could borrow them under Prime--I borrow one book a month.

DEZMOND said...

OMG what's the point if no big publishers are there?

Crystal Collier said...

I liked the concept more when it was included in Amazon Prime, but then you only got to borrow 1 book at a time. (1 a month.) That totally made sense. It was just a perk from subscribing to a larger service. I miss that model. It became a supplement to my reading, not a replacement. Anyhow, all things change, eh?

~Sia McKye~ said...

I hear you on this. I opted out. While I do read some indie published books the brunt of my reading is from publishers that don't participate in the *free* books. I'm pretty selective in my reading.

Even with the former one book a month library thing, it was just too much trouble.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

VR Barkowski said...

Since I rarely read digital, I never considered trying Kindle Unlimited, although it sounded like a great plan for avid readers who prefer e-books. Clearly I was wrong. Very informative post, Donna.

VR Barkowski

cleemckenzie said...

I'm more than disturbed by Amazon these days. This is just one more reason to be.

Al Diaz said...

It reminds me of the time I heard about Amazon Mexico. It invited me to shift my account since I was located in Mexico. I decided to investigate further before doing anything drastic and I found out that once I shift my account, all the books I bought would be lost. I was like, what? WHAT???? I already paid for those books, why on hell would they be lost? Still trying to understand that one about Amazon.

M Pax said...

I don't read that many books a month, so I'm better off paying as I go. It's great to read a review of the service from a reader's perspective. I'd only heard the authors' laments so far.

Chrys Fey said...

I've always wondered about Kindle Unlimited. Thanks for laying it all out like this. Amazon should've called this service something else since it's not really unlimited.

Lynda R Young said...

Yep, that's why I've avoided it...mainly because it doesn't include a lot of the bestsellers. Kindle Unlimited is like an expensive library, and I've always preferred buying my books anyway.

dolorah said...

Media: I should have checked it out like you did.

Dezzy: right?

Crystal: that's where I went wrong, should be a supplement, not the only reading venue.

Sia: I read a lot of indie pub, but not 10 books per month worth.

VR: I'm trying to go all digital, but I miss paper books.

cLee: yep, I agree

Al: I don't understand why it isn't offered outside the US; but maybe that is a good thing. You almost got dupped.

Mary: I'm better off to pay as I go too. Had to try something new though.

Chrys: I agree.

Lynda: Very expensive library.

Simon Kewin said...

Hmm, doesn't sound like a great experience. I haven't signed up myself, and I can't see that I'm going to now...

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, you definitely don't get to keep the books. You're renting them. Have you considered a service like Scribd? Smashwords gave their authors a free year's subscription. I didn't use mine much. Only read one book, but it has some bigger names on it. You don't get to keep those books forever either, but you can access as many as you want as long as you keep paying $9.99 a month for it.

Nicki Elson said...

Wow1 They put the word "unlimited" right in the name of the thing. That's totally false advertising. I didn't realize a lot of the best sellers weren't in there. As an author I don't like KU just because it gives me something new to study & try to figure out.

Lisa Agosti said...

What?!? I didn't know there was a limit of 10 books at the time. What a shame. I just paid my first 9.99$ and I was already aware of many of the flaws you mentioned, but I didn't know I could only store 10 books on my Kindle. I don't think I'll keep paying Kindle Unlimited after all.

mshatch said...

I think I'll pass on that 'deal.' Thanks for heads up!

Mary Hill said...

Thanks for the heads up. I will pay. I find the same things is true with the Amazon Prime. I like the free delivery and use it a lot. Plus, I watch a lot of videos and do get to borrow one book a month.

Mary Hill said...

PS. thanks for Blitzing me today. :)

Arlee Bird said...

What a scam, but to be expected. I hate those come on enticements that sound a lot better than they are. Unfortunately there are a lot of so called deals like this. No unlimited Kindle for me. I read way to slow for one thing.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Carol Kilgore said...

How interesting. I had no idea. I guess it's true what they say: always read the fine print.

Happy Valentine's Day!

alexia said...

That's pretty wretched!!

Suzanne Sapsed said...

I don't have a Kindle, I'm still very much a paperback from the charity shop, read it and return it to the charity shop so someone else can enjoy it, and they can make even more money for the charity! I can definitely see the benefits - especially for holidays - and if I ever weaken and get one, thanks to your post, will not be joining Kindle Unlimited! x

A Beer For The Shower said...

Yeah, I always thought this sounded way too good to be true, and you confirmed it. Plus, you know, as an Amazon author this isn't really doing us any favors. A shame, really. Could have been a cool program if it was executed better.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna .. I've been keeping this to read - til I can absorb (post op!) some of it ... it's really interesting; I tend to buy my books and haven't subscribed to KU .. keep reading about it though ...

Thanks for updating us .. and good to read the other knowledgeable comments - cheers and thanks for popping by .. while I'm healing - cheers Hilary

Lexa Cain said...

Wow. I had no idea about all this. (Amazon won't download anything digital to Egypt -- not even actual free books.) It does seem they're being a little bit tricky about this program though...

Amalia Dillin said...

It was great to read about this from the reader's perspective vs the more common discussion coming from the author side. I have a novella available through KU (Postcards from Asgard), but the rest of my books don't qualify (they're not exclusively listed on Amazon) so it's kind of an experiment to see if it helps or hurts my sales -- that said, I'm not sure it's made much of a difference for me either way.

Vikash Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sabrina Joyner said...

I enjoyed using Kindle Unlimited. I knew from reading the small print that the books were not mine to keep, that I could only have 10 at a time, etc. I had a free 3-month subscription thanks to Groupon and I loved it. I am too frugal to pay the $9.99 each month because of other more important necessities. However, if I had the money to splurge, I would keep KU. I found some amazing authors and books.