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Amazon launches iOS-compatible Kindle Unlimited, a $10/mo. all-you-can-read ebook plan

post #1 of 41
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While the digital music market has been trending toward monthly subscription services for unlimited access, Amazon is now trying the same approach with its dominance in the ebook market, allowing subscribers to read as much as they want for $10 per month.




With many digital titles on Amazon's Kindle platform costing $10 or less, the new Kindle Unlimited service could be a good value for those who read at least one book per month. Not all Kindle titles are available, however, with more than 600,000 books offered, including the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" series, the "Hunger Games" trilogy, and the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.

The titles available through Kindle Unlimited appear to be largely the same offered through local library rentals on Kindle hardware, as well as the "Kindle Owner's Lending Library" available to Prime subscribers. But the new $10-per-month subscription provides access to those titles on other hardware, such as Apple's iPad, and also doesn't have restrictions on borrowing periods or number of titles read per month.

Also included in the offer are more than 2,000 audiobooks, covering titles like "The Handmaid's Tale," "Life of Pi," and "Capital in the Twenty-First Century."




"With Kindle Unlimited, you won't have to think twice before you try a new author or genre -- you can just start reading and listening," said Russ Grandinetti, senior vice president of Kindle. "In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy. We hope you take advantage of the 30-day free trial and try it for yourself."

Amazon is offering users a free 30-day trial to sample the service, and subscribers will also access a free three-month Audible membership with more than 150,000 audiobook titles available. Other features of Kindle Unlimited include Kindle-exclusive books, thousands of "short reads" that are 100 pages or less, and access to popular Kindle features like Whispersync, X-ray, and Goodreads integration.




While Amazon competes with Apple's iBooks, the online retailer also offers the ability to read its ebook titles on Apple devices, including iPad, iPhone and Mac. Amazon's Whispersync feature will remember the page where a reader left off, and will automatically sync that across devices, including between Kindle-branded hardware and Apple devices.

With Apple's planned purchase of Beats Audio announced in May, the iPhone maker will be entering the booming on-demand subscription streaming music business. But there has been no indication thus far that Apple is interested in offering a similar model for ebooks with its iBookstore.
post #2 of 41
Oysterbooks might be in trouble.
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post #3 of 41
This is the first interesting thing Amazon has done in a long time. I can't help but wonder what kind of royalty deal they worked out with publishers to allow this. If the selection is good, it could save me a lot of money. Although I would prefer to see Apple do this, then I wouldn't have to use the Kindle app!
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post #4 of 41

How much are the authors getting? Will Amazon pay a flat rate up front or will authors get a residual for each book accessed, even if the person only reads one page? We all know Amazon will be trying to make money on this deal and pay the authors/publishers as little as possible.

post #5 of 41

Too bad the Kindle Reader sucks.

 

Apple should match this and the iBooks reader is much better on iOS and Mac OS.

post #6 of 41
I can't imagine the pubs agreeing to this.
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

How much are the authors getting? Will Amazon pay a flat rate up front or will authors get a residual for each book accessed, even if the person only reads one page? We all know Amazon will be trying to make money on this deal and pay the authors/publishers as little as possible.

I would imagine the authors/publishers had to go into some kind of negotiation for this. Everyone needs to make money, it's part of the business.

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post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtDIelement View Post

I would imagine the authors/publishers had to go into some kind of negotiation for this. Everyone needs to make money, it's part of the business.


Amazon are scum, they're going to quickly kill small/local business.
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post #9 of 41
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Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post


Amazon are scum, they're going to quickly kill small/local business.

Definitely not going to argue with you there. I've witnessed many large businesses in my area do that.

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post #10 of 41

It would be nice to see Audible books under this plan.   All you can listen to for $120 a year.

post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

I can't imagine the pubs agreeing to this.

It depends on what the returns are. According to Google, the average reading speed is 250 words per minute and the average book length is 64,000 words. This means the average book takes around 4 hours to read. Let's say that people spend an hour a day reading. There's a breakdown of average activities here suggesting older people read more and it's noted as around 1 hour:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-21/how-americans-spend-their-day-less-work-more-sleep-and-tv

They'd get through roughly 2 books per week. Say that the revenue is split evenly and Amazon takes 30% of the subscription leaving $7 between 8 books in a month, this could mean each publisher gets $0.88 for their book but that's not how I'd split it up because someone else will only read 1 book in a month and all $10 would go to that author, which wouldn't be fair.

The way I'd split it would be to take cumulative subscription revenue, deduct the fee and then split the remainder based on words read per author. So for the two readers above, the revenue would be $20 in a month, the Amazon fee would be $6 and the $14 is split between the same 8 authors. One of the authors has their book read twice so they only get double the revenue (assuming same book lengths). This means the revenue per author becomes $1.56 with the one author read twice making $3.11.

The more you expand this model, the more each author can make and on top of that, you take away the pay-wall that prevents readers from even looking at your book in the first place. I personally hate committing to buying books, far more than for movies. $10/m is more than Netflix so IMO is a bit on the expensive side but I would rather have that model than buying individual books outright. If they intro a more limited plan like $5/m and you only get 3-5 books/month or something like that, I'd be happier with that.
post #12 of 41
"With many digital titles on Amazon's Kindle platform costing $10 or less, the new Kindle Unlimited service could be a good value for those who read at least one book per month."

How is this a good deal for people who read one book a month that costs $10 or less??

Or should it say, maybe, like, "more than one book per month"? (assuming, of course, that the total of the cost of the books is more than $10 per month.)

Inquiring minds want to know.
post #13 of 41
What a shame it's not out for the UK, I'd subscribe immediately if it was!
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post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


It depends on what the returns are. According to Google, the average reading speed is 250 words per minute and the average book length is 64,000 words. This means the average book takes around 4 hours to read. Let's say that people spend an hour a day reading. There's a breakdown of average activities here suggesting older people read more and it's noted as around 1 hour:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-21/how-americans-spend-their-day-less-work-more-sleep-and-tv

They'd get through roughly 2 books per week. Say that the revenue is split evenly and Amazon takes 30% of the subscription leaving $7 between 8 books in a month, this could mean each publisher gets $0.88 for their book but that's not how I'd split it up because someone else will only read 1 book in a month and all $10 would go to that author, which wouldn't be fair.

The way I'd split it would be to take cumulative subscription revenue, deduct the fee and then split the remainder based on words read per author. So for the two readers above, the revenue would be $20 in a month, the Amazon fee would be $6 and the $14 is split between the same 8 authors. One of the authors has their book read twice so they only get double the revenue (assuming same book lengths). This means the revenue per author becomes $1.56 with the one author read twice making $3.11.

The more you expand this model, the more each author can make and on top of that, you take away the pay-wall that prevents readers from even looking at your book in the first place. I personally hate committing to buying books, far more than for movies. $10/m is more than Netflix so IMO is a bit on the expensive side but I would rather have that model than buying individual books outright. If they intro a more limited plan like $5/m and you only get 3-5 books/month or something like that, I'd be happier with that.

I like your explanation but I have a better one. Amazon pays the author/publisher $7 up front then keeps all the money it gets from subscriptions. I'm not assuming the author gets anything once Amazon gets their grubby hands on the book. I'm also not assuming the authors have much say in the subscription model since Amazon is the only unrestricted game in town.

post #15 of 41

Boycott Amazon. They are trying to squeeze the authors out of any profits and if you don't like there deal they stop selling your books. Amazon is the book monopoly, not Apple. Apple was able to bring cheaper book prices without squeezing the authors out of what they deserve.

post #16 of 41

The majority of books in Kindle Unlimited stink - they are ones published by Amazon which tend to be one step up from unreadable. They are including some high profile covers to push the service, but as soon as you start browsing you see the Amazon titles take over.  The Amazon published books may have a gem here or there (Hugh Howey fans., don't go ballistic).  But many are amateurish and reflect the fact that there is very little professional editing. 

 

I am a big Amazon customer - have spent obscene amounts of money on not only books but also tons of physical goods.  I am on strike until they stop the fight with Hachette.  I see Amazon as trying to break the publishing industry (which they generally acknowledge), but I think it will be very bad for readers if they succeed.  I want the curation that Hachette, Simon & Schuster, etc. provide.  I am a finance guy - I can tell you the publishers are not fat on excess profits.  They are barely surviving, and if the future of books is more "Amazon Digital Services" quality, I want nothing to do with that.  My time is worth the $10 for a good book, instead of shaving off four bucks to get dreck.

post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDavies View Post
 

It would be nice to see Audible books under this plan.   All you can listen to for $120 a year.


The AI article doesn't mention it, but a paid subscription to Kindle Unlimited includes a three-month subscription to Audible.

post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by pfkrieg View Post

The majority of books in Kindle Unlimited stink - they are ones published by Amazon which tend to be one step up from unreadable. They are including some high profile covers to push the service, but as soon as you start browsing you see the Amazon titles take over.  The Amazon published books may have a gem here or there (Hugh Howey fans., don't go ballistic).  But many are amateurish and reflect the fact that there is very little professional editing. 

I am a big Amazon customer - have spent obscene amounts of money on not only books but also tons of physical goods.  I am on strike until they stop the fight with Hachette.  I see Amazon as trying to break the publishing industry (which they generally acknowledge), but I think it will be very bad for readers if they succeed.  I want the curation that Hachette, Simon & Schuster, etc. provide.  I am a finance guy - I can tell you the publishers are not fat on excess profits.  They are barely surviving, and if the future of books is more "Amazon Digital Services" quality, I want nothing to do with that.  My time is worth the $10 for a good book, instead of shaving off four bucks to get dreck.
So, if the publishers are all poor & the authors complain that they get pittance for each book sold who makes the money out of a £10 book? Someone had to.

The print and shipping alone wouldn't make up much of the cost, so someone is making a truckload somewhere on printed books.
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post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

We all know Amazon will be trying to make money on this deal and pay the authors/publishers as little as possible.

Ya think?!? How dare a publicly traded company try and make money!
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post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

How much are the authors getting? Will Amazon pay a flat rate up front or will authors get a residual for each book accessed, even if the person only reads one page? We all know Amazon will be trying to make money on this deal and pay the authors/publishers as little as possible.

The contractual relationship is between an author and a publisher, not an author and Amazon (except for those few who publish directly with Amazon).   According to press reports, Amazon is paying the publishers the regular wholesale price for each downloaded ebook, which means that they have to be losing a lot of money on this program, but I think it's pretty clear that Amazon's purpose is to gain market share and get people in the habit of only ordering ebooks from Amazon (and using Kindle).    Since the publisher is getting the regular wholesale price, the authors will get their regular royalty, which is usually based upon list price anyway.    (Of course most authors, except for the very top best-selling authors, never earn out their royalty advance anyway, so it's somewhat of a moot point.)

 

Once they push some other players out of the market, or threaten publishers who won't lower their prices that they won't be part of this program, we'll probably see prices rise in a few years.

 

Note that most new books are not included in this program - it's mainly catalog titles.    (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

post #21 of 41
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post
I can't imagine the pubs agreeing to this.

 

I can’t imagine them having a choice. You know, since it’s illegal for Apple to compete with Amazon.

post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

What a shame it's not out for the UK, I'd subscribe immediately if it was!

Is oysterbooks available in the UK? They offer the same thing.
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post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

Too bad the Kindle Reader sucks.

Apple should match this and the iBooks reader is much better on iOS and Mac OS.

eInk readers are far superior for reading than multi function tablets.
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post #24 of 41

I think we see the writing on the wall why Amazon purchased Audible.com and Comixology.com.   I can see similar offering in the future.

post #25 of 41
I wonder about the number of titles available. I enjoy reading books, but if the selection is limited to whats available on their lending library, I may still have to purchase many of the books I want to read which makes the $10 per month seem a bit expensive.
post #26 of 41
Is there a way to know in advance what titles are part of the program? The ebooks that I read tend not to be less than $10 USD - much more in some cases. I guess I will try it for a month and see whether it's worth it for me. I'm surprised to see negative comments about the Kindle App. It's worked pretty well for me for the most part. There have been a few instances where I had to re-download all of my purchases but from a readability and synchronization standpoint it's pretty decent. By default I always start with iBooks and only go with Amazon if iBooks is missing the title.

From a philosophical perspective I think it's a good idea to have ebooks curated outside of any device vendor's ecosystem just to spur innovation in the ebook (and app) domain. At some point there is going to be a throttling effect by having content captive inside all these silos. Nobody is excellent at everything and separation of concerns is a sound architectural principle when dealing with scalability. The problem is that the horses have already left the barn and the current megastore owners like Amazon have locked up the content in their own silos. My preference would be having online shopping malls that provide alternative ways to sell digital media. When you have millions of single type of content stuffed into a single store like iTunes or GooglePlay it's nearly impossible for the vast majority of content owners to get their work in front of customers on virtual store shelves for customers to purchase. As much as I love the App Store I think that it has long been in a state of denial about being the right model to really serve the needs of what it claims to serve. It has nothing to do with anyone making boneheaded decisions or being malicious, it's simply that we don't know any better so we're mapping the model to what we do know. What we have today is the equivalent of early airplane designs that had flapping wings - because that's what our reference model (birds) used. Once we figured out aerodynamics the flapping wings went away. We've yet to find the "aerodynamics" for the mass digitalization of human generated and initiated content.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

According to press reports, Amazon is paying the publishers the regular wholesale price for each downloaded ebook...

If that's true, this could be a great way to funnel money from Amazon to authors and publishers.  Pay $10 and then download 600,000 books.  Hmm.

post #28 of 41

A quick look at the selection of books in the Unlimited section leaves me underwhelmed. I'm sure it's a great deal for someone - else.

post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDavies View Post
 

It would be nice to see Audible books under this plan.   All you can listen to for $120 a year.

 

Less than 8,000 titles that are "whispersync" (aka including audio) for Kindle Unlimited.

 

Audible itself has 40k (based on investor site) to 150k (from wikipedia) titles, which pretty much dwarfs the KU selection.  Of course, at Audible I pay $180/yr for 12 credits - some of which give an immense amount of value (Cryptonomicon was 47h for 1 credit, very nice).

 

Though I'd like Whispersync, my audiobook usage is pretty limited to commutes so not useful for me, so I'll stick with Audible for now (usually use up all my credits and not much more aside from the BOGO specials).

post #30 of 41

Unlimited books to read, that's like my dream product. US only, *sigh*.

post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Unlimited books to read, that's like my dream product. US only, *sigh*.

I guess I'll say it again, have you tried oysterbooks?
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post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


I guess I'll say it again, have you tried oysterbooks?

Their website looks good. I'll check it out, thanks.

 

Edit: Oh, it also appears to be US only.

post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Their website looks good. I'll check it out, thanks.

Edit: Oh, it also appears to be US only.

Sorry then, I wasn't sure. Got to admit that over 500,000 titles is pretty impressive for a little known company.
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post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

Too bad the Kindle Reader sucks.

Apple should match this and the iBooks reader is much better on iOS and Mac OS.

eInk readers are far superior for reading than multi function tablets.

Until you go inside.
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post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Until you go inside.

Even indoors
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post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Until you go inside.

Even indoors

No. Indoors, you can easily read on an iPad under any lighting conditions. Eink? You need to have a strong light to read comfortably.
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post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post


No. Indoors, you can easily read on an iPad under any lighting conditions. Eink? You need to have a strong light to read comfortably.

 

Yes, you can read the iPad indoors, but it provides far more eyestrain than an e-ink reader.    Unless I started traveling constantly as I used to, I would never buy a Kindle because I don't want to carry so many different devices, but I have to admit that the Kindle is far easier to read if all I care about is reading books.   You have to give credit where credit is due.

 

An ideal device would somehow enable both e-ink and a retina display in the same physical device.    

post #38 of 41
At least with the Kindle and Kindle app you have a choice to read on your phone, iPad, computer, or Kindle device.

When is Apple going to release an app for Android or Windows? It would seem to make sense because they could sell books to people who don't have an iOS device.
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Sorry then, I wasn't sure. Got to admit that over 500,000 titles is pretty impressive for a little known company.

Oh well, there's always the public library.

post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred1 View Post


When is Apple going to release an app for Android or Windows? It would seem to make sense because they could sell books to people who don't have an iOS device.

Never. It won't help Apple sell hardware.
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