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Pulling the trigger on Kindle Unlimited

Erica Sadun, @ericasadun
July 18, 2014
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After Kindle Unlimited launched today, we entered a lively debate in the TUAW backchannels about this new service. Nearly everyone agreed that Amazon had once again set a high bar for Apple to respond to, but not everyone was immediately ready to sign up for this monthly product that offers unlimited text and audio lending for US$10/month.

For the parents among us, our initial reaction was "Whoa! Let us go forth and save money!" Kelly Hodgkins, mother of many, became one of the earliest TUAW adopters of the service. Mike Rose, whose daughter has already spent $170 of gift cards on Summer reading, could immediately see the appeal.

Your $120 yearly membership (30 days free, cancel at any time) offers access to a library of 600,000+ titles, which sounds like a lot but may not include the books you specifically need to read. Of my children's Summer reading lists, not a single title was available through Unlimited.

I went through our purchases for the last 60 days and could not find any item we had bought included in the Unlimited library. These included EL Doctorow's "Ragtime", Sonia Nazario's "Enrique's Journey", Kazuhiro Fujitaki's "The Manga Guide to Electricity", Charbonneau's "Graduation Day", Kiera Cass's "The One", Tom Doyle's "American Craftsman", Robert Galbraith's "The Silkworm", among others -- a mix of required reading and fun.

After searching my recent transactions, it became clear to me how limited the library really is. I'm letting my credit card stay cool for now. And, of course, you don't get to "keep" any books you borrow -- even for DRM-values of "keep" in today's digital market.

For those with flexible reading tastes, the Kindle library has a lot going for it. You don't have to wait for ebooks the way you do at your local library. You can borrow more than one title a month, unlike the standard Prime benefit. Kindle Unlimited includes unlimited audio from "thousands of audiobooks", which is a godsend for commuters.

What do you think about Kindle Unlimited? Are you going to jump aboard? Or are you waiting for the library to expand to include more desirable reading material? Drop a comment and share.

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