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

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.  

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  1. Jerry says:

    Thanks for the review of KU. It strikes me that like many internet services of all types the new kid on the block is going to be improved with time. I’ll consider KU when they get the big publishers online.

  2. Lauren says:

    I’m doing the thirty day free trial but will likely cancel after that. Only about 1 in 4 books available for free from my list. They will need to greatly increase their selection to get my $10 a month.

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