When Kindle Unlimited was announced, I was super-excited. I wanted to give it a few months, however, so I could share a real user's review. The service is wonderful.
Kindle Unlimited is Amazon's $10-a-month e-reading subscription service. It's Netflix for e-books. Slightly larger than competitive services Scrib'd or Oyster, Kindle Unlimited has more than 600k books to borrow, 10 at a time, for as long as you'd like. You do not keep the books, but you do keep notes you make while reading after you return the novel. They'll be waiting if you check the book out again. This is separate from the many concerns some people have regarding Amazon's ability to edit, change or "steal" books in your digital library and applies to your notes/highlights, not the content.
This is wonderful—for me. I read books, I prefer to do it on my Kindle, and I read more than ten a month. A quick pass through Kindle Unlimited's library led me to believe it houses plenty (while certainly not everything) that I wanted to read. Classic novels, like many of Stanislaw Lem's better known works are in there. You won't find Lem's awesome discourse on humanity, Summa Technologiae, though. I ended up with a hardcopy.
So, if you want a lot of Polish Science Fiction from the 70s, you're covered. If you want more modern novels, you'll find them in Unlimited as well. But current best sellers—the bread and butter of Amazon's book business—will not be offered until they aren't current or best-selling anymore.
What I find absolutely wonderful about Kindle Unlimited, however, is the thing so many early reviews hated: the fact that much of its inventory is by self-published, independent authors.
I love folks who sit down and share their stories because they are compelled to. A few years ago they were easy to find on Amazon as Kindle Singles, but at some point Amazon changed that and the Singles became worthless, foisting Stephen King novellas off on me. During that period of time, the bulk of my reviews on Boing Boing were of Science Fiction purchased at used book stores. Kindle Unlimited offers those indie authors a new venue to be found, and offers readers a low-risk way to try lots of their work. I feel this should add some skepticism to the argument that Amazon hates publishers. Maybe they hate the big ones. But the indies, once again, have a new venue to be found.
Now, many of the books I review are self-published. Certainly, they lack the polish of professionally-edited, big-publisher offerings, but I love them. I've heard a number of complaints about poorly-edited editions of indie novels, and if bad grammar and creative spelling bug you, Kindle Unlimited may not be for you. Of the 15 or 20 I check out in a month, though, several are good enough to recommend to you here on Boing Boing. There is certainly a lot of great reading in Kindle Unlimited without the indie publishers, but it is some of the best content in there.
I'm not suggesting everyone needs Kindle Unlimited—the many discussions we've all had over Amazon, the Kindle, DRM and other problems with the company are what they are. Clearly, I don't think Amazon is going to steal my library or eat my pets. I'm an outlier. You are reading Boing Boing, though, so there is a good chance you are too. My $10 a month is well-spent.
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