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kindle unlimited pageAs you no doubt saw in the Morning Links, Kindle Unlimited is now live.

It’s pretty much what we were expecting when it was leaked on Wednesday. Right now, it’s mostly Amazon imprints and KDP Select books, with a few others like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Books by Open Road and a few other smaller traditional publishers are also available. No Big 5 books, however, which wasn’t a surprise.

For Amazon authors, the KDP Select FAQ and agreement have been updated to include Kindle Unlimited, according to reports on KBoards. There was no mention of the Select pool being increased based on Kindle Unlimited, at least not from what was copied and pasted to the Board, but I’d have a hard time imagining the Unlimited payments won’t be used to increase the pool. If not, authors will be completely justified to be pissed. Guess we’ll have to track the size of the Select pool over the next few months and see if it rises accordingly.

Of course, I immediately signed up for my free trial. The day after I finished my July Kindle Lending Library borrow, Blake Crouch’s latest Wayward Pines book was released, and I was bummed that I was going to have to wait until August to read it. Since it’s also in Unlimited, I made it my first trial book. The service is dead easy to use. As you can see, an extra option has appeared on the book page:

Kindle Unlimited option

I think readers are going to like that you can manage Unlimited Books from the website. Lending Libary books can only be borrowed from a Kindle, and it’s a pain to remember that. I rarely browse from my Kindle, so this is much easier.

You can have 10 books borrowed at a time, which should be plenty. I think I read somewhere that you can download 10 books at a time on Oyster and 20 on Scribd. I’ve never downloaded more than 10 at a time, so I can’t imagine the limit will be a problem, unless you are a fast reader going away for an extended trip away from WiFi. Hmm. That might be me in December when I go on a week-long cruise…

I don’t see a way to return a book from a Kindle, however, at least not an eInk one. A Fire can use a browser to get to the Manage Your Content page on Amazon and return a book that way. That’s a feature Amazon should add. I know some readers prefer to do as much as possible from their devices and avoid using the site.

Yes, Unlimited books are tagged as such on the Manage Your Content page, and you return a book exactly as you would a library book.

If an Unlimited book has an audio version that’s eligible for Unlimited, it says so in the Whispersync box on Amazon. You can download the audio version in a Kindle app, and the book will appear in your Audible library, so you’ve got multiple ways of getting to the audio version.

ScreenClip

A very cool feature is the free three month Audible subscription. I chatted with “Freddy” at Amazon to ask if it worked with existing subscriptions. It does. Here’s his answer:

Freddy: I can see you are already subscribing to Audible Juli, i have checked and since you already have it, when you get Kindle Unlimited you will get 1 extra credit the first month, and 2 extra credits the second month. These are on top of the membership one that you receive on a monthly basis
Me: Oh, cool! Assume that only happens after the 30 day free trial is over, and I’ve started paying for it?
Freddy: If you are currently in a free trial, you will get the first credit right away, then once the free trial renews to a paid membership and one month has gone by since you got Kindle unlimited, you will get the other 2

As far as I’m concerned, I’m sold on paying for a couple of months to get the free credits. I may not keep it longer than that because I do have Scribd, currently for free as a Smashwords author, but hey, three credits plus the subscription books for $20 isn’t a bad deal.

An excellent question as a reader is “Scribd/Oyster or Kindle Unlimited?” Here’s what to consider. While KU has a larger selection, it’s mostly self-published and Amazon imprints. If you like those books, it’s a no-brainer. Scribd/Oyster has books by HarperCollins and S&S, but the books can’t be read on eInk Kindles. It’s a trade-off. If you’re open to self-published books and value reading on your eInk Kindle, Unlimited is probably the way to go. If you prefer books by the two Big 5 publishers which are available on Scribd/Oyster or don’t care about reading on a phone/tablet, one of them is probably the way to go.

Or you could pay for both. For roughly $20 a month, you get access to a large collection of books and might never need to purchase a book again. Look at how much you already spend and how much you read. It could be a good deal.

What do you think? Are you going to sign up for your free trial?

Update: I received an email from Amazon announcing Kindle Unlimited (would have been nice if they’d sent it before it went live) and saying that they’ve added $800,000 to the Select pool for July. That seems to answer the question about whether they are adding money to the pool to support Unlimited. I’ll be curious to see the amount for August.

In case I wasn’t clear above, if you are a KDP author, you’ll only be Unlimited if you are part of KDP Select, which makes an author exclusive to Amazon. I’ve never thought exclusivity was a good idea, and this hasn’t changed my mind. I am considering testing it for 90 days with the first book in my series, which has seen a significant decline in sales this year. Still evaluating, though. I like the concept but detest the exclusivity requirement.

Update the Second: Long-time reader Michael Perry correctly reminded me that I should note that authors who are unhappy with Kindle Unlimited can get out of Select early by visiting this link. As far as I know, it’s the only time Amazon has offered authors an opportunity to get out early with no penalty. Interesting. I’m sure we could spin all sorts of fascinating theories about that. I’m not going to go so far as Mark Coker in urging authors to “don’t let friends go Select,” but the option is there if you want it. I think it’s still too early to be certain if Unlimited is a terrible, awful, no good thing or yet another tool in an author’s tool box. We’ll see.

 
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