Amazon appears to be testing unlimited ebook subscription service
On Wednesday, a webpage for Kindle Unlimited—a subscription service where users can “enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month,” according to the page—went live and then was quickly made unavailable. Google cache is hosting a copy of the webpage, however, and Gigaom posted a copy of what they claim is Kindle Unlimited’s advertisement video on YouTube.
Amazon has not yet officially announced Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon did not immediately reply to EW‘s request for comment, so many details are still unclear—but the webpage’s existence suggests Amazon may have an unlimited ebook subscription service on the way.
The service would rival Scribd and Oyster, two other ebook subscription companies. Oyster boasts more than 500,000 titles at $9.95 per month, while Scribd advertises over 400,000 titles for $8.99 per month. These services function like Netflix for ebooks, where subscribers can access an unlimited amount of ebooks from the website’s limited offerings at a flat monthly rate. Just as Netflix was a game-changer in the movies and television industries, Scribd and Oyster have been making waves in publishing—so it’s not surprising to note that Amazon has expressed interest.
Many of the books Amazon appeared to be offering before the Kindle Unlimited webpage was taken down were titles from their own publishing imprint, according to Gigaom. However, none of the titles featured in Gigaom’s video or on the website were from the five biggest publishers—HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, or, of course, Hachette. The webpage, however, has titles from some of the bigger independent houses, like the Harry Potter books from Bloomsbury. HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are both on board with Oyster and Scribd. It appears Kindle Unlimited could also, like both other active services, offer self-published work.
Amazon already offers a sort of book subscription service for Amazon Prime members, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Through that, Prime users can borrow one book per month from a selection of more than 600,000 books for no additional cost. Kindle Unlimited appears to be a separate service that won’t be included with Amazon Prime, which costs $99 per year.