Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? (Oh, I’ve got thoughts.)

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? | Modern Mrs Darcy

Last week, Amazon unveiled Kindle Unlimited, a new service that gives subscribers access to 600,000 titles for a little less than ten bucks a month.

I’ve gotta admit: I’m intrigued by Amazon’s simple, hassle-free concept (which is obviously a competitor to Oyster, a service I’m likewise intrigued by but haven’t actually tried, yet). Pay one low fee, access one huge library.

But the question is, of all the titles on my massive To Be Read list, how many of those are actually available through Kindle Unlimited?  

I decided to find out.

I’ve blogged extensively about summer reading here on MMD, and those titles made an obvious choice for my test sample. I hopped on Amazon and researched every book in the 2014 MMD summer reading guide (35 books), my personal summer reading list (14), my summer syllabus (10), and the books I want to read this summer that happen to be YA (11), for a total of 70 books. Not a bad sample.

Do you want to guess how many of these books are available in Kindle Unlimited?



5% of the books I want to read this summer are actually on Kindle Unlimited.

(For the curious, they are: The Giver, The Joy of X, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and The Main Dish.)

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? | Modern Mrs Darcy

This isn’t to say there aren’t great books on Kindle Unlimited: there are plenty. I’ve noticed a huge overlap between Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library. Of the 27 great books I list here from the Kindle Lending Library, 26 of those are available on Kindle Unlimited. (Oddly, the only one missing from Kindle Unlimited is Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

And while there aren’t many books from big-name publishers available right now on Kindle Unlimited, there are exceptions: if you want to binge-read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, you’ll find those titles here.

But a large selection isn’t necessarily the right one. If you have a carefully curated TBR list, you’re unlikely to make much progress on it using Kindle Unlimited. 

(Remember my own list: I was 4 for 70.)

For just $10 a month, and a 30-day free trial, it doesn’t hurt to give the service a try. But there are other ways to get great deals on ebooks.

Amazon steeply reduces prices on hot ebooks all the time. Check out the current deals here, and you’ll see that if you average 3 or 4 books a month, your $10 budget could buy plenty of good reading material for the same price as Kindle Unlimited. (Worth noting: of the 70 books on my summer reading lists, there are more on sale right now than there are in the whole Kindle Unlimited library.)

This is a brand-new service and I expect it to evolve. But for right now, it’s not worth it for me.

A few more questions I’ve gotten about the service:

How is Kindle Unlimited different from the Kindle Lending Library?

As far as I can tell, there’s a huge overlap between the two services. But to access the Lending Library, readers: 1. must be a member of Amazon Prime, 2. must have a Kindle, and 3. can only check out one book at a time. Kindle Unlimited readers can access ebooks from any device and don’t have to be Prime members.

What does Kindle Unlimited mean for authors? 

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing the effect on authors will be very similar to that of the Kindle Lending Library, in which the author is paid a fee every time a reader borrows her book. For instance, my own book is in the Kindle Lending Library, and I receive a variable fee of about $2 every time it’s borrowed.

(Surprise! My book is also available in Kindle Unlimited. I didn’t know that until I was doing the research for this post.)

Can you check out more than one book at a time from Kindle Unlimited? 

I sure would like to know, because a key part of my Read All The Books strategy is to have multiple books going at one time. If you have experience with this, please let us know in comments.

UPDATE: you can check out up to ten books at a time with Kindle Unlimited.

Are you thinking you’ll give Kindle Unlimited a try? Have you already experimented with the service? We’d love to hear all about it in comments.  

Halfway through summer reading.

July twitterature

We’re roughly halfway through summer. If that means I should be roughly halfway through my summer reading, I’m in trouble. I just tallied up my books: I’m 3 for 10 on my summer syllabus and 7.5 for 14 on my summer reading list.

I’m only 3 for 11 on the books I want to read this summer that happen to be YA, but that might become 3 for 10: I’m seriously considering dropping We Were Liars. (Thoughts?)

Of course, I could have knocked more books off my lists if I’d actually stuck to my lists. But as you know, that’s not really my style. For better or worse.

My halfway summer reading update:

The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay

This novel from my YA summer reading list is one of the best books I’ve read in 2014. It’s well written and un-put-down-able. If you loved Eleanor and Park (on sale in the kindle store right now), you’ll love this one.

Lizzy and Jane, Katherine Reay

The names come from Jane Austen, but (thankfully) this isn’t fanfiction: in this novel, Lizzy is a driven NYC chef and stoic older sister Jane does social media in Seattle. This second novel from Reay doesn’t release until October: add it to your list, but in the meantime, read Dear Mr. Knightley (as of right now, still $3.99 for Kindle!), or anything by Katherine Center.

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, Ken Jennings

This nerdy nonfiction pick from my summer syllabus was highly recommended, and I can see why. Imagine A. J. Jacobs at the geography bee (or the National Archives, or geocaching). Fascinating and funny.

The Expats, Chris Pavone

I knocked out this thriller from my summer reading list in a day because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this debut, but I expect his second novel, The Accident, to be even better.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (a Veronica Mars mystery), Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Watch the series, see the movie, and then read this book, which picks up right where the movie left off. (Go enter to win a copy before midnight if you haven’t already.)

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle

This selection from my summer syllabus was interesting, but not as interesting as I had hoped, and I wish I’d skipped the first section entirely. I finished it because I felt like I should, not because I wanted to.

What have you been reading lately?  

(Head here for more details on this crazy thing we call twitterature.)

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

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Un-put-down-able books for your summer reading | Modern Mrs Darcy

Every once in a while, I pick up a book that’s so compelling I just can’t put it down until I reach the last page. Sometimes it’s because the book is flat-out amazing; sometimes it’s because the book is good enough and the plot is amazing.

Disregarding the “why” for a moment, I polished each of these 7 books off in less than 24 hours because I couldn’t put them down: 

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell. I finished this one on a weekday afternoon when I was supposed to be working, because all I wanted to do was finish this book. (Interestingly, I also inhaled Rowell’s newest, Landline, which just came out yesterday. But I didn’t like it nearly as much.)

The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay. I blew through this novel from my YA summer reading list over the weekend, even though it’s almost 400 pages. If you loved Eleanor & Park, read this next. It’s not a read-alike, but it has enough in common with E&P to make it a safe bet. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line: a Veronica Mars Mystery, Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. This wasn’t high literature or anything, but it was so much fun (and had such good narrative drive) I didn’t want to stop until I knew how it ended.

The Likeness, Tana French. I’ve flown through every book in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series—though I’ve enjoyed some more than others—because her mysteries are so darn compelling. Can’t wait for her next one to drop this September.

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles. This gorgeous novel can almost be categorized as literary fiction, which too many readers dismiss as inaccessible. Don’t make that mistake. This Gatsby-esque novel pulls several shocking plot twists, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty. This novel had me pinned to the couch for two days (or it might have been just one). It reads like the breeziest chick lit, but has a surprising depth that makes me love it even more.

The Expats: A Novel, Chris Pavone. I just finished this debut novel from my summer reading list last night. I’m not sure if it will stand the test of time (will I be recommending it in a year?) but I read it in a day because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. (And it’s possible my introvert batteries needed recharging, too.)

Tell us about the last book (or three) you read that you just couldn’t put down.

P.S. How I find time to read, and why it’s so hard to put down the book and go to bed already.

Looking for a good story. {literary matchmaking}

Literary matchmaking: matching readers with the right books, one week at a time

The details on this ongoing project, and the factors I’m taking to heart.

Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m choosing 1 mainstream pick, 1 eccentric pick, and 1 YA/memoir/nonfiction pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

This week we’re choosing books for Megan, whose books are:

Love: The Thirteenth Tale, Me Before You, The Lost Husband
Meh: The Casual Vacancy
Last read: The Rosie Project

I loved Me Before You and The Lost Husband, and The Thirteenth Tale is on my list. Readers don’t love these books for their high style or gorgeous prose. They love them because they tell great stories.

And that’s what I’m looking for for Megan: novels that succeed because they’re good stories. They don’t have to be highly literary; they don’t have to be prizewinners. But they need compelling characters, in strong plots, that make you keep turning the pages.

This was a fun list to put together, because I love a good story.

My picks: 

Brand new: One Plus One: A Novel
Pageturner: The Secret Keeper
Classic: Jane Eyre
A good story:
The Power of One: A Novel

Since Megan loved Me Before You, I’m recommending JoJo Moyes’s brand-new book One Plus One, just released July 1. I just finished the audiobook yesterday and really enjoyed it. (You know it’s good when you keep finding excuses to pull more weeds, wash more dishes, walk the dog again, and anything else that lets you turn on that audiobook for another 15 minutes.)

The Secret Keeper is deliciously creepy and intricately structured, much like The Thirteenth Tale. And while I’m betting Megan has already read Jane Eyre, anyone who loves books like The Thirteenth Tale should read it at least once.

I’m recommending The Power of One because it tells a great story, and because I wanted to give her another new option, since I’ve already recommended the heck out of Rules of Civility, Bel Canto, What Alice Forgot, and other simply good stories I think Megan love.

Please share recommendations for Megan, plus books that you think fit the “just a great story” category in comments. Thank you! 

View all the literary matchmaking posts here.

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