For the past few months, I have been using Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription service, which lets you read an unlimited number of books for Rs. 169 a month (inclusive of taxes). Until then, I had been mostly buying and reading print books and had read just a handful of ebooks.
Even though I still prefer the feel and easy readability of print books over the ebooks, the fact is, ebooks are convenient and with a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited, really cheap to read.
Is Kindle Unlimited, truly unlimited?
Yes and No.
You’re allowed to keep a maximum of 10 Kindle Unlimited Titles in your library and out of these, you can read the books you want. If you want to add another book, you will have to return one of those 10 titles in your library.
I guess Amazon does this since Kindle Unlimited can be used on multiple devices and they don’t want too many people reading from the same account.
However, there is no limit to the number of books you can read in any given month (at least I haven’t yet encountered any such limits.)
Are all titles available in Kindle Unlimited?
Authors/Publishers decide which titles are available as ebooks on Amazon and they also decide, which ones are available in Kindle Unlimited. Since they are paid from Kindle Consolidated Fund, based on the number of pages which were actually read, not all publishers are inclined to make their books available on Kindle Unlimited.
Having said that, in less than 15% of the cases I haven’t found a Kindle Unlimited version of a book I was looking for.
Is it easy to read?
Yes and No.
Even though you can download Kindle App on your mobile phone, tablets or computer (Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS is supported) or use their web reader, readability depends on the device you’re using to read the book.
With my Apple iPad, I can read for hours, though my eyes get tired after reading for a couple hours.
Having said that, Amazon has worked hard to make the Kindle Apps as readable as possible and it is much much better than reading on the web or even PDF documents.
What I hate about Kindle Unlimited?
I have absolutely no clue, what sort of algorithms Amazon uses to categorize and rank books. But they make it difficult to find good titles to read unless you know the title you wish to read next.
Just look at the 6th and 8th listing for Classic Fiction, I don’t know if these are any good, but they do not belong in the first page listing for Classic Fiction, sharing the dais with Tagore, Dickens, Tolstoy, Doyle etc..
This and similar sort of listings make me cringe at times, especially when I am at a cafe, having finished a novel and looking for another good one to read. And then I have to spend my precious time looking at listings that seem manipulated or worse, the result of complete lack of knowledge about books and bad algorithms!
If only Amazon could fix their listings and improve their search, it would make world of a difference.
Is it worth it?
For someone like me, who tries to read at least a couple of books each month and has a sister who loves to read, it really is a no-brainer. Even if we are reading a couple of books each month, we end up saving money. Then there are books which are really expensive and yet, available on Kindle Unlimited. A single copy of Lonely Planet India is enough to fund your Kindle Unlimited Subscription for nearly 10 months and I have that in my iPad and Desktop of quick reference due to Kindle Unlimited.
If you only read occasionally, it would make more sense to purchase individual titles in printed or ebook format.
Even though there are several libraries and services which compete with Kindle Unlimited and there is always an option of buying and selling second-hand books to reduce expense. However, the ease of accessibility of Kindle Unlimited makes it a no-brainer for me.
I love to read at coffee shops and at times while commuting or traveling. For me, carrying a mobile phone or a tablet is more convenient than carrying multiple printed books. Plus with piles of books at home, that I don’t have the heart to sell. I much prefer ebooks now than adding another book to my bookshelf or storage, where it might never be read again.
So for me, Kindle Unlimited is the best way to read books, even though finding one worth reading, can be a difficult task due to nonsensical listings.