When it comes to ways to get eBooks on your Kindle, Kindle Unlimited is always mentioned near the top of the list. It has the big-name power of being owned and operated by Amazon, which is both a pro and a con for lots of us book lovers! But hang around any book group online and you’ll see, at least once a week, the question of is Kindle Unlimited worth it?
So I figured, as someone who has had Kindle Unlimited off and on for years, I’ll walk you through what the subscription is and how it works and why it may (or may not) be the one for you.
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- What is Kindle Unlimited?
- How do you sign up for Kindle Unlimited?
- What happens after your subscription ends?
- Kindle unlimited versus Prime Reading
- Is Kindle Unlimited worth it?
What is Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited is a little like an online library for eBooks that also includes audiobooks and magazines. It can be a one-stop shop to grab a whole series of books or read back issues of a magazine.
Because it is unlimited, you can also read as many books as you want (though you can only have 10 out at a time). So if you are an avid reader, you can go through books as quickly as you can read them. There’s over 1 million titles available so even the quickest reader will be kept busy with as many books per month as they want!
Does Kindle Unlimited include all books?
You might have guessed the answer to this already – no, Kindle Unlimited doesn’t include all books. So if you are a fan of some of the well-known authors, you might not find the books you are looking for on it.
Kindle Unlimited tends to focus more on newer and lesser-known authors — as well as quite a bit on indie authors. That’s not to say you won’t find famous and best-selling authors on there – but you can’t guarantee it. And if you do spot your favorite best-selling writer, it isn’t likely to be their newest release, maybe an older back catalog item they’ve given Amazon to add to the service.
There are some classics on there that you can enjoy. From George Orwell to Harry Potter, there’s plenty of well-known books available. But not all of them, all of the time.
And there’s even picture books on there if there are any fellow parents out there!
How many books can you borrow at once?
The other thing to understand about using Kindle Unlimited is that while there are no limits to how many books you can read, there is a limit on how many you can borrow at a time.
Think of it a bit like the library – they only let you take out a certain number of books at a time. To get more, you simply return the ones you’ve read. Kindle Unlimited works in the same way. You can borrow up to 10 books at a time and when you’ve finished, simply go to the app or site and ‘return’ the book to borrow more.
For example, you could put a book on your Kindle in January and it will still be on your Kindle in August unless you return it.
How do you sign up for Kindle Unlimited?
If you’ve never tried Kindle Unlimited before, then the good news is that there’s a 30-day free trial. Simply to go Amazon and select on the Kindle option or visit it here.
You can select the free trial or a monthly deal, I’d say go with the free trial first to see if you like it. (I personally love when they do the .99c for 3 month deals). Once you have signed up, you can go into the Kindle Store along with the top menu and start finding books.
If you have a tablet and a smartphone, you can add the free Kindle app to them. Then you can connect it to your account and read the books anywhere. If you have a Kindle device, the process will be simple too.
At the end of the free trial, you’ll switch to the monthly subscription fee unless you cancel it. I suggest putting a reminder on your calendar a few days before your subscription is up to reevaluate what you want to do so you aren’t caught off guard when they charge you.
What happens after your subscription ends?
One thing to know is that you definitely borrow books with Kindle Unlimited. This means if you stop your subscription, they do vanish from your device. Amazon sets things up so they are in a different folder to any other eBooks you’ve purchased so if you stop paying, these books simply vanish.
Kindle unlimited versus Prime Reading
If you already have a Prime subscription with Amazon, you may think you have Kindle Unlimited but it is a little different. The section included in the subscription is called Prime Reading and works differently from Kindle Unlimited. So Kindle Unlimited is not free for Prime members.
The basic function of both are similar – you pick books from the pre-selected range and download them to a Kindle device or app to read. There’s no due dates and you can choose audiobooks and magazines as well.
But there are two main differences between them. Prime Reading comes as part of Amazon Prime and gives you access to around 1,000 titles. These change periodically so new books are appearing.
However, with Kindle Unlimited, you pay a separate monthly amount and you can access to over 1,000,000 titles in their library of books. Again, new books are being added and removed regularly.
So basically, Prime Reading is like a sample of Kindle Unlimited, not the full package.
Is Kindle Unlimited worth it?
Now we’ve looked at what Kindle Unlimited is and how it works, let’s dive into some of the interesting stuff – is it really worth it? Here are some of the pros of the service:
Pros of Kindle Unlimited
Easy to use
Top of most user’s lists when it comes to reasons to use Kindle Unlimited is that it is easy to use. There’s the app, it works with Kindle devices and you can easily access the main Amazon website to get the books.
You can easily ‘check out’ a book and returning them is simple. Even for people who aren’t into tech, using the subscription service is an easy process.
Multiple books at a time
As a library fan, the idea of borrowing a few books at a time comes naturally, as does returning them before I can borrow more (and who doesn’t enjoy that lack of late fees?).
You can borrow up to 10 books at a time so if you are going somewhere and want to stock up, you can choose 10 fresh books to take with you.
You can read what you wouldn’t buy
You know that feeling when you really want a book but don’t want to buy the physical book because you aren’t totally sure if you’ll like it? Well, if the book features in Kindle Unlimited, you can try it without that per book cost.
For me, it is a great way to find new authors by trying books that I may not have wanted to buy or genres I’m picky about. And if you really enjoy it, you can always buy the paperback later!
You can swap between devices easily
Most of us have reading routines. You know, you use the tablet if you are reading in bed but the smartphone if you are waiting while your kid does an activity and you forgot a book? Well, with the Kindle app, you can easily move from one device to another and pick up where you were.
It will save your reading place and when you open the app on another device, it will appear at the same place.
There are some exclusive books
Just like Netflix and Amazon Prime have their own exclusive TV shows, Kindle Unlimited now has exclusive books that aren’t available elsewhere. Or maybe they are released here so users get to read them first.
You don’t need a Kindle to use it
Finally, remember that you don’t need to have a Kindle to use the service. The Kindle reading app is free for all devices and means anything can be turned into an eBook reader once it is installed. Just connect the app to your Amazon account and you can access the books.
It helps improve your reading habit
Because it is convenient, on your phone and easy to access, it does help people increase the amount they read. Lots of people have said that they didn’t read much or as much as they would like before having the service but have as much as doubled their reading with it.
What are the downsides of Kindle Unlimited?
Okay so that’s the points in its favor but what are the things that might not make it worth it?
The subscription doesn’t cover all books
One of the first things you’ll realize when looking at the range of books on offer is that it isn’t all books out there. In fact, it often isn’t the top sellers, the best-selling authors, or the most popular books.
Many of the big-name publishing houses haven’t allowed Amazon to add their books or have severely limited how many are on – this includes Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, or Simon and Schuster. The Big Five publishers keep their books separate so you don’t find their titles on the service.
There are lots of self-published books
This one is both a pro and a con. Self-published books can be a way to get authors’ exposure and a brilliant option that didn’t exist at one time. But the downside of it is that the books really differ in quality sometimes.
Often they are published without an editor or at least an editor of the style of mass-produced books. So while the book might be excellent, it could also be a little underwhelming and clunky. That’s not always the case but you do have to really sift around sometimes to find the gems.
Not to say that all self-published books are like that! There are truly some really great books being published that route by talented authors who want more control over their careers/books and who aren’t lacking in editing/quality. Self published does not always equal low quality at all.
But like I said — it can be a con for some people who don’t want to sift through the massive amounts of self-published books for gems or for those who are looking for more mainstream published books.
Some niches are better served than others
Perhaps the biggest complaint I see from people using the service is that it is great if you like certain niches and genres but not so great for others. Some people say that if you aren’t into romance or women’s fiction, then Kindle Unlimited isn’t for you. There are also good ranges for thrillers, murder mystery, and fantasy.
You can always search your favorite category before you subscribe to see if there are enough books to make it worth trying.
It’s not always easy to find things
The one thing that has always bothered me is that I feel like they don’t always make it easy to find everything. Sometimes I come across a Kindle Unlimited book by chance rather than having a good, easy way to browse everything Kindle Unlimited has to offer.
My verdict — So is Kindle Unlimited even worth it anyways?
So I’ve tried to remain as objective as possible when listing out the most common pros and cons when it comes to Kindle Unlimited but maybe you want my actual opinion on Kindle Unlimited? I am happy to give it to you if you still are on the fence about whether or not Kindle Unlimited is really worth it!
My short answer: it depends on what kind of reader you are and what you are looking for!
1. First off, I currently do have an active Kindle Unlimited subscription and have used it on and off for years. Sometimes I use it more than other times and sometimes I have more success with books I want to read on it than other times. I also will note that I rarely have purchased it at full price except for recently.
2. When it comes to the price, I will be honest that I don’t think the full price is worth it for MOST readers (there are some genre readers I think it might be worth it). I typically find myself subscribing at a sale or deal price — like the 99 cents for 3 month deals but sometimes I have paid full price if there are a bunch of things I do want to read available. If it was a few dollars cheaper each month I’d think it was very much worth it.
The one thing that DOES make it really worth it for me, when I am paying full price for it, is that I tend to read a lot of magazines AND comic books on it in addition to books! I think if I didn’t read magazines with my subscription I probably wouldn’t get my money’s worth.
3. I think Kindle Unlimited is worth it for some genre readers and people open to indie/self published books. I do tend to think if you love and read romance (and some women’s fiction) pretty widely you will get the most out of a Kindle Unlimited subscription. As I said above, I find A TON of comic books I want to read. Also cozy mystery readers and thriller lovers can find a decent selection. Same with fantasy and sci-fi. Just don’t expect them to always be the biggest or newest mainstream books from those genres. Although sometimes you do get a surprise and find popular ones!
If you read more literary fiction or high-brow stuff, you might have a hard time finding things. Also if you do tend to read the more popular, best-selling new books — you will be disappointed 99% of the time.
For me personally unless it’s romance, where I’m willing to read indie and self published that others have vetted and recommended to me, I typically don’t venture into indie and self-published personally.
If you are a person who has no qualms about that and are adventurous, your use of the service will be even more well worth it. I genuinely do stick to stuff from the bigger publishers which is pretty hard to find on there to be honest.
Do I personally think it’s worth it for myself?: At the moment Kindle Unlimited remains worth it and useful for me because I’m reading a ton of comic books and magazines along with the book selections. If I wasn’t reading those so often, I don’t think I’d use it enough to pay full price every month and would do exactly what I tell people who ask me which I’ll share below.
What I tell the people in my life who ask me if they should sign up: Peruse the books included in Kindle Unlimited and see if they are genres you like to read or if you see titles already on your to-be-read list. If you see things, try the free trial for a month and see what you actually get read. OR capitalize on one of the good deals that come up every so often for it, read all the things that interest you and THEN cancel until a deal comes up again (if there’s new books on there that interest you). That’s what I did until I started using it for magazines and comics.
If you think it might be for you after reading this review of Kindle Unlimited, definitely check out the deals they have for signing up for 6 or 12 months — it’s better than the monthly rate.
What do you think? Have you subscribed to KU before — was it worth it for you? Also I’m always looking for good books to read from it so share your favorites below!
Need help with what to read Kindle Unlimited with? Check out the best tablets for reading!