You can no longer give the gift of Kindle Unlimited

Each year for the last couple of years, my husband has given me a 12-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited as part of my Christmas gift. This year, however, it seems that particular gift will be missing from under the tree: On Saturday, I noticed that Amazon is no longer offering ANY pre-paid or gift subscriptions to the service.

In the past, you used to be able to pre-pay your Kindle Unlimited subscription in increments of 6, 12 and 24 months. Or, you could buy a gift subscription for someone by going to a special gift landing page. Now, that page shows a message stating that gifting is unavailable.

Is this a permanent change in the way Kindle Unlimited subscriptions are handled? The Amazon page says that they are “working on getting it back as soon as possible.”

The Purchase a Kindle Uimited Pre-Paid Subscription help page still indicates that you can buy pre-paid and gift subscriptions for terms of up to  24 months. The Manage or Cancel Your Kindle Unlimited Membership page still refers to pre-paid gift and bundles. There is just no longer a link to purchase those subscriptions. Now, the only option on the sign up page for Kindle Unlimited is to pay $9.99 per month for the service.

I was going to try to contact Amazon today to ask about the pre-paid plans and, as the picture below shows, found that there is no option for any kind of support for Kindle Unlimited, even under the digital services tab.

It seems odd the that there is no help available for gifting options for KU, especially during the holiday season.

Amazon has gone back and forth on the idea of gifting some of its services: There was a time when you could not gift Amazon Prime, and Amazon Music Unlimited still cannot be purchased as a gift.

I can also understand that Amazon might not want the hassle of customer service support for Kindle Unlimited during the busy holiday season. Amazon’s servers already tend to be swamped with people registering their new devices and buying content with their gift cards.

It may also be the case that the no refunds policy for gifts and pre-paid subscriptions may be a factor. While the service boasts over a million titles, most are by indie and Amazon’s own publishing imprint authors. People looking to read the latest bestsellers may prefer a different gift after sampling the service.

It will be interesting to see if the gift and pre-paid options return after the holidays. (I, for one, liked the convenience of the option.)

What do you think?

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Amazon introduces new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader

Amazon has made a new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader available for pre-order. The device will be released on November 7, 2018.

Features:

Here are the features of the new device:

  • The new device is thinner and lighter than the previous generation of Paperwhite. And, yes, that means a new size cover. According to the specs for the new cover, it will not fit any of the previous Paperwhites.
  • The new Paperwhite has more LEDs so it is brighter than the previous generation.
  • The screen is now flush with the bezel of the e-reader.
  • It’s waterproof:  IPX8 rated to protect against accidental immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes.
  • It’s got more storage: The basic version comes with 8 GB (twice the previous model). Or, you can choose 32 GB to hold more content. (This is a must if you are going to use the content for comics and audiobooks.)
  • Audible compatibility. Amazon had added Bluetooth so you can pair with headphones or speakers. The device is now Whispersync For Voice compatible, so you can not only sync across devices, but can switch back and forth between the ebook and Audible versions of a book.

The new Kindle Paperwhite also includes the ability to invert black and white text, allowing for nighttime reading with white text on a black background. That is one of my favorite features from the Kindle Oasis and it is exciting to see it available on the Paperwhite.

Covers:

Currently, Amazon has three covers available for the new device:

I will be on the look out for 3rd-party covers for this new model and will do a post as soon as new covers are available.

Bonuses:

  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon is offering 6 months of Kindle Unlimited free with the purchase of a new Paperwhite. The Kindle Unlimited a subscription service that offers unlimited reading of books, magazines and audiobooks. Offer is only available after purchase and terms and conditions apply.
  • Trade in – Take advantage of Amazon’s trade in program and trade in your existing Kindle before you buy a new one. Besides a gift card for your old Kindle, you will get 25% off the purchase price of your new one. (And, yes, some Fire Tablets are eligible for trade in, too!)

The new Kindle Paperwhite prices start at $129.99 (only $10 more than the previous model). It is available in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 4G LTE models. Complete specs are here.

So, what do you think? Are these new features worth an upgrade to you?

Kindle First Books for March 2017

hemingwaylEvery month, Amazon allows Prime members to download one upcoming book from one of Amazon’s imprints for free. The books are chosen by Amazon’s editors. (This is for US customers only.)

This month’s books are:

Previously, Amazon would allow you to download a second upcoming title for only $1.99. While that offer is no longer available, if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, all of these books will be available to read for free when they are released on April 1, 2017 as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Prime members can also sign up to receive a monthly e-mail announcing new Kindle First picks.

Amazon launches Kindle Single Classics series

K_single_classics1Back in 2011, Amazon launched a series of short form pieces for the Kindle called Kindle Singles. Today, Amazon has announced a new series called Kindle Singles Classics.

The new series is described as “a way to make iconic articles, stories and essays from well-known authors writing for top magazines and periodicals available in digital form, many for the first time.”

According to the press release, the initial launch features over 140 works that consist of both fiction and non-fiction. A variety of writers are represented: Susan Orlean , Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem, Lawrence Wright, Margo Jefferson, Gay Talese and Chang-rae Lee, as well as short stories from best-selling authors like John le Carré and Kurt Vonnegut.The works draw from magazines like Time, Playboy and the New York Times Magazine. Some of the pieces date back decades.

Singles Classics are priced from 99 cents and are available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

In the press release, Amazon does note that “writers and publishers sell their previously published work via Kindle Direct Publishing”, which means that we will probably be seeing more previously published content in the series. If the series works the same way as Kindle Singles, works will probably require approval before they can be published.

Back before Amazon established the 99 cent threshold for books and stories published for the Kindle, I used to find a large number of (undoubtedly illegal) science fiction and fantasy stories available for pennies. I remember seeing Damon Knight’s classic  “Not With a Bang” priced at only 10 cents for the short story.

While I am not overly excited about a glut of old material surfacing on Amazon, there are some amazing short works, especially in the SFF genre, that I would love to read again. Many were originally published in anthologies that have been orphaned or gone out of print and are not available in e-versions. Seeing some of those works available would be wonderful!

Can I be the first to request “Whatever Became of the McGowans?”

How to see the books you’ve read in Kindle Unlimited

I’ve been a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited since last August. Since I also subscribe to Scribd as well as purchase my own books, I like to periodically check and make sure that I am using the service enough to justify the cost. While I do keep track of the books I read on Goodreads, I just don’t always remember to make a note that I have read them through  the Kindle Unlimited service.

Did you know that there is a way to check which books you’ve read through your Kindle Unlimited subscription?

First, log in to Amazon and go to your Account >  Manage Your Content and Devices page. Go to the Your Content section of the page.

MYK_ books

Click the books box to expand the menu and select and click Kindle Unlimited.

MYK_KU

Note that the box that formerly said all, now says books. The list of books below this section shows you the titles you currently have borrowed from Kindle Unlimited. It also shows the date the books were borrowed. You can sort these items by title, author, and date borrowed.

MYK_books_box

Click on the books box to expand the menu. There are four menu items: books, all, audio books, and returned.

MYK_returned

Books and all show you the currently borrowed books you have on your device. Audiobooks shows you any audio book versions automatically included with any KU books you have borrowed. The returned option shows you all the titles you have borrowed and returned from Kindle Unlimited. the returned books can also be sorted by title, author and date borrowed.

And that’s it! It’s that easy! 🙂 If you are  doing a 30-Day Free Trial of Kindle Unlimited, it is a great way to see if you are using the service enough to make it worthwhile for you. If you have tried the program, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Finds and Deals: Kindle Unlimited and Hisense Chromebook

hisense chromeTwo other deals for today:

Amazon is running a special valentine’s Day deal for 25% off the regular price of Kindle Unlimited. There are three choice for the length of membership:

  • 6 Months: $59.94 – Now $44.95
  • 12 Months: $119.88 – Now $89.91
  • 24 Months: $239.76 – Now $179.82

Kindle Unlimited (KU)  offers unlimited reading of over one million titles and thousands of audiobooks.  The deal ends February 13, 2016.KU works on any device, including the free reading app.

On Woot.com, one of today’s computer deals is a refurbished Hisense C11 11.6″ Chromebook for $89.99. The device features a Rockchip RK3288 Quad-Core, 16GB Internal Storage, 2GB Memory, 802.11ac, Bluetooth, with ChromeOS and even includes an HDMI port. There’s a review from Ars Technica here. This deal ends at 6am on February 12, 2016