Is Kindle Unlimited worth the price?

Amazon has introduced the Kindle Unlimited (KU for short) subscription service and it seems to have created quite a buzz.

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It offers unlimited access to over 600,000 Kindle books and over 2,000 audiobooks with Whispersync for Voice. You can keep up to ten books at a time and there are no due dates. You can read your Kindle Unlimited books on any Kindle device or any of free Kindle reading apps.

For new subscribers, there is a free 30-day trial. That also includes a free Audible membership for up to three months. The Kindle Unlimited subscription includes 3 free Audible books (even if you are already a subscriber).

  • If you like to own books
  • If you like to read bestsellers
  • If you read very few indie published books
  • If you only read a few books every month
  • If you read mostly free books or classics
  • If you mostly buy books on sale
  • You already have an Audible membership
  • If you are already a Prime member and satisfied with one free book rental per month.

In that case, Kindle Unlimited may not be a good value for you.

The answer may be yes if the following is true:

  • If you need to read on e-ink only
  • If you read mostly indie authors
  • If you read lots of short stories and short non-fiction books
  • If you want more than one book per month from KOLL
  • If you don’t have an actual Kindle or Kindle Fire device (read on app, tablet, computer or phone)
  • If you use Whispersync to switch back and forth with audio for a lot of books
  • If you do not re-read books or do not want to own every book you read.
  • If you spend a lot each month on books that are also in the KOLL Library.

But what if you find that points from both lists apply to your situation?

First, browse or search available books  to see the offerings.

Compare the list of books in the KU program to to your Wishlist or TBR (To Be Read) list.

If you already subscribe to Scribd or Oyster, compare the lists of available books on those services to see which one offers you the most value.

Lastly, tale a look at your monthly book budget, your spending history and what types of book you are reading to see if the service is cost effective.

A case study:

I am going to use myself as a case study. 🙂 Here’s the background: I am an avid reader whose reading time is more constrained than I would like. I have both e-ink Kindles and Kindle Fire tablets. I like to own books and re-read favorites. I prefer to read on e-ink versus a tablet or phone.  I am already a Prime Member and also have an Audible membership. I rarely use Whispersync. I do have an Open Library membership. I also have a membership to Scribd (a gift), although not being able to use it on an e-ink device limits its usefulness for me – I haven’t yet finished one Scribd book.

Not including re-reads, I generally read 1-2 full length books per week (fiction and non-fiction). I also read serials, short stories and short non-fiction works. Since I only read e-books any more, I am replacing my print copies of old favorites with e-books. 

I like to read a variety of books.I read almost every kind of fiction, but primarily enjoy read classics, mysteries and thrillers, SF and horror. In non-fiction, I enjoy history, and anthropology, self-help, spirituality,motivational reading and how-to books. More than half of the authors I read are indies and small press titles. Many of the short stories, non-fiction booklets and new authors I read come from trying books that are offered for free. If I like them, I then generally buy new and backlist titles of the author’s works. I refuse to pay more than $9.99 for a license to read an e-book and pay close attention to sales like the Kindle Daily Deal and price reductions for bestseller and backlist purchases. I frequently try new authors via the KOLL library, but there are months that I actually forget to borrow my free book.

I went back and looked at my book purchases for the month of June. Most of the paid books I purchased last month are NOT available as part of the Kindle Unlimited service. Two of my June purchases, Dead Spots and Trail of Dead, were originally KOLL borrows that I liked so much I went back and purchased copies to own when they were on sale. Most of the free books I picked up that month were gardening books for my container gardening project that I probably would not have gotten if they weren’t free.

I concluded that, at least for me, I probably would not have saved any money in the program. Because I already have access to most of the books already (either through KOLL or as free promotional books), I feel that it is doubtful the Kindle Unlimited program would be worth the extra cost to me.

I do intend to look back over a few more months’ past purchases to see if that data looks any different. And, I intend to watch my purchases over the next few weeks to see if a perhaps a subscription might seem to be worthwhile. Being able to read on and e-ink device would be a big plus. After all, Amazon is offering a 30 day free trial, so I can always change my mind. 🙂

What about you? Is the Kindle Unlimited program attractive to you?

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6 thoughts on “Is Kindle Unlimited worth the price?

    • Exactly! I have now gone back to January in my book purchases and most of the books that I actually paid for (non-free books) were not in the KU library. I already have more books than I have time to read. 🙂

  1. It’s a moot question for me since I’m Canadian, but no, I don’t see the pull. If I want to rent a book because I’m uncertain about whether I’ll love the author or wish to reread it, I wait for the library. (They have ebooks you can read on e-ink, if that’s what you need, though I’m fine on my iPad and fine with print.) If it’s from a self-published author, generally it’s low-priced enough I can afford it or if I wait long enough it goes free. If I’m going to buy it at traditional publishing prices, it’s a must-read author and I probably won’t want to rent it. Lastly, my TBR pile is ridiculous already.

    I see KU as being like a Costco membership. You have to be willing to know your prices, walk miles, have a plan to split food or the membership isn’t going to be worthwhile.

    • Just wait, I am sure it will be coming to you soon, LOL!

      I think so much depends on what you read and how you read it. There are folks on the Amazon forums who are very interested in the Whispersync options.for audiobooks. And there are some genres that might do very well with unlimited books (Zombies and serials, I am talking about you!). It will be interesting to see how the numbers play out over time.

      • It’s going to be interesting to see how Amazon’s present pay structure changes fiction. On the K-Boards, a good number of people are talking about splitting up their novels into three or four parts which end in cliff-hangers. That way, they could earn $6 or $8 for what might have netted them $2 or $3 before.

        No matter what system is invented, there are always people who are ready to game it. 🙂 Interesting, yes?

        • I have seen the same kinds of things written on Amazon’s KDP forums. *Shakes head* Living in interesting times….

          But as a reader, that probably won’t fly with me. Turning books into series or serials just for more money is a great way to turn off your readers .I have been working on a follow-up to a Kindle Serials series that will probably touch on this topic.

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