Report: Amazon Testing ‘Kindle Unlimited’ Subscription Ebook Service

kindle unlimited

Amazon is testing an all-you-can-read subscription ebook service to compete with firms like Scribd and Oyster, according to multiple blogs, citing Web pages on that have now been removed.

The service is reportedly dubbed “Kindle Unlimited” and has over 600,000 titles for $9.99 a month, many from Amazon Publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing, the self-publishing arm of Amazon. A quick survey by GigaOm revealed no “big five” publishers in the mix. Both HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster do business with Scribd and Oyster, which offer a selection of about 400,000 each to readers for $8.99 and $9.95 a month, respectively.

No word yet on how the service would work in conjunction with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows Amazon Prime customers who also own Kindle devices to borrow one ebook a month free of charge. Also no details have emerged on how authors and publishers will be compensated. Amazon has not yet responded to request for comment.

UPDATE: Publishers Lunch is reporting that at least some publishers will be paid as if an ebook has been purchased every time one is read on the Kindle Unlimited platform. Scholastic has confirmed as much.

According to cached pages linked by GigaOm, Kindle Unlimited offers “unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month.”

Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd, which is a major player in the market, believes the entrant of a new competitor will be good for ebook subscription services as a whole:

“The apparent entrance of Amazon into subscription market is exciting for the industry as a whole,” he said in an email statement. “It’s validation that we’ve built something great here at Scribd. Publishers, authors and readers alike have all seen the benefit, so its no surprise they’d want to test the waters. Successful companies don’t fear competition, but rather embrace it, learn from it and use it to continue to fuel their own innovation which is exactly what we intend to continue doing.”

Oyster CEO Eric Stromberg agrees:

“We’re not surprised,” he wrote in an email statement. “They have pivoted from transactional to subscription-based in other media, and have had limited success. They really paved the way in ebooks, and it’s exciting to see them embrace the market we created as the future of books.”

Promotional video for Kindle Unlimited:

H/t GigaOm



2 thoughts on “Report: Amazon Testing ‘Kindle Unlimited’ Subscription Ebook Service

  1. Michael J Sullivan

    I’m concerned about the two-tier system that Amazon has created. Typically they have been very good about equal treatment between traditional and self-published books. They both enjoy equal treatment on the bestseller lists and “also bought” discoverability. But with the Kindle Unlimited there is definitely a two-tier system.

    Self-published authors have to limit their distribution to only Amazon, while traditionally published books enjoy full distribution – the #1 concern of authors as it turns out as per the DBW author survey.

    Self-published authors are paid from the KOLL pool, whose value is determined by Amazon and has no relation to a book’s sale price – simply the number of titles sold. Typically this has been $2.00 or so a unit so this rewards $0.99 titles and results in a net loss for books $2.99 and higher. Traditionally published authors are paid as if a purchase was made (for an immediate download for books added to KU without publisher’s consent…and once 10% is read for publishers that enroll their titles).

    Why not equal treatment? The answer is the same as all power plays. Because the indies will “take it” and the traditional publishers won’t. Even with such attractive terms, I suspect the big-five won’t opt in. We’ll see only aggressive small presses like Open Road Media enrolling their whole catalog. The traditional publishers should opt in…subscription is coming whether they want it or not and getting full wholesale price is a pretty sweet deal. I just wish Amazon would treat the indies as well.

  2. Alice

    If this will be a success, this would be a major advantage for bookworm Amazon Kindle users. They now can have unlimited access to books and audiobooks for just $9.99 a month. It’s very affordable rather than buying traditional books. I can’t wait to see what will happen with the e-book industry once Amazon releases this one.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *