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Amazon to Launch New eBook Subscription Service Called Kindle Unlimited

kindle unlimitedWord is circulating on Twitter and the KBoards forum  today that Amazon is about to launch a new ebook service.

Update: Kindle Unlimited went live on Friday.

Details are still vague, but at this point I know that about 6 hours ago several authors noticed that there was a new page in the Kindle Store. That page was shortly taken down, but while it was up it was titled Kindle Unlimited, and it offered readers access to a catalog of 600,000 ebook and audiobook titles for $9.99. Thanks, Zara!

Update: Actualitte has screenshots which confirm Kindle Unlimited, including:

Kindle_unlimited_Amazon_ebooks_abonnement_bezos[1]

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the Kindle Freetime Unlimited service which Amazon launched in September 2012. That is a different service which offers a kid-safe selection of apps, videos, and ebooks. KFU is only available on Kindle hardware, and it costs $2.99 a month and up.

Update: Here’s the promo video for Kindle Unlimited:

You can find the Kindle Unlimited page here. There’s nothing to see at this time, but if you click through I want you to look at the search bar at the top and note the letters "KU" as the dept. That confirms the reports, I think.

Update: If the page did show something it would probably look like this:

Amazon_Kindle_Unlimited_abonnement_Bezos_1[1]

 

US-KOLL-Banner2-900x372._V347573205_[1]I’m still waiting for comment from Amazon, but at this point it looks like Kindle Unlimited is an expansion on the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library which will be made available to all Amazon customers (KOLL is a free benefit for Prime subscribers only, and is bundled into the $99 a year cost). At launch Kindle Unlimited will likely be limited to the US.

A number of authors on KBoards have confirmed that the titles they submitted to KDP Select had been added to Kindle Unlimited, and not just KOLL. There is also a report that the sales reports on the KDP admin pages now includes a mention of the Kindle Unlimited service, which apparently is going to be counted in combination with KOLL revenues.

Speaking of revenues, that is another question we cannot answer yet.  Kindle Owner’s Lending Library pays indie authors from a pool of money based on the number of times their books have been borrowed. The pool for July is $1.2 million.

Update: There is now confirmation from Scholastic that their titles will be included in Kindle Unlimited under the existing contract they negotiated with Amazon.

As with KOLL, Scholastic will get paid their full wholesale price every time one of their ebooks is opened by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

It’s possible that Amazon will expand the pool, but this still raises questions. Prime members can only borrow a single title a month from KOLL, but clearly that limitation will not apply to the Kindle Unlimited service.

In order to compete with services like Scribd and Oyster, Kindle Unlimited will either have to be a lot cheaper or offer similar unlimited reading. Both Scribd and Oyster offer a buffet-style reading experience for $8.99 and $9.99 a month, and they boast catalogs of 400,000 and 500,000, respectively.

If Amazon is launching a direct competitor to Oyster and Scribd then Kindle Unlimited will have to be truly unlimited.

Update: GigaOm found an active test page for Kindle unlimited, and it looks like I can now confirm that this service expands beyond indie titles.  Many publishers who have signed with Oyster and Scribd are also showing up on the test page, including Scholastic, HMH, Open Road, Workman, WW Norton, and Bloomsbury, as well as titles from Amazon’s own imprints.

I have yet to find titles from S&S or HarperCollins, both of which have deals with Scribd and Oyster, but there are also 7300 audiobook titles listed.

I will update this post as I get more details.

Thanks, Zara!

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Comments


Timothy Wilhoit 16 July, 2014 um 8:56 am

One additional requirement of KOLL, books must be read on a physical Kindle, either eink or Fire.

Felipe Adan Lerma 16 July, 2014 um 4:03 pm

Timothy, can you send me a link to that? I have a new Kindle Fire, but I also like to read on my Kindle app on my iPhone. Thanks so much.

karen 16 July, 2014 um 7:59 pm

Hi Felipe –
Here’s a link to the Kindle owners' lending library on amazon.com:
http://smile.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000739811

Karen

Felipe Adan Lerma 16 July, 2014 um 8:22 pm

Got it, thanks Karen 🙂

Looks like a lot of the features, streamed movies & music are ad free too, nice!

Thanks again 🙂


fjtorres 16 July, 2014 um 10:04 am

And there you have another reason for S&S to be talking, quietly, to Amazon.

Nate Hoffelder 16 July, 2014 um 11:24 am

Now that I have confirmed that publisher titles are going to be included, absolutely.

Felipe Adan Lerma 16 July, 2014 um 4:55 pm

Plus either titles from S&S would either not be exclusive, or exclusivity would start with titles Scribd doesn’t have in the subscription program and must be "bought."

Lot of unknowns!


Jesslyn 16 July, 2014 um 1:43 pm

If Kindle devices are required, it’s a no-go for me. I read more on my tablet than my Kindle ereader and seldom use my 1st gen Kindle Fire.


Albin 16 July, 2014 um 2:10 pm

This must be part of the ongoing (troubled) negotiation with publishers. My guess would be the publishers will want something like the delayed release for movie DVDs / streaming, to keep the initial profits from successful hardcopy and ebook sales. Therefore $10/mo would not offer the NYT best seller list.

The two services I’ve been looking for from Amazon are a subscription service and a Kindle book resale market – but would expect neither to permit big discounts on currently popular titles. Thankfully, I’m not a reader of currently popular titles.


carmen webster buxton 16 July, 2014 um 4:23 pm

For the KOLL, you have to initiate the borrow FROM the Kindle or Kindle Fire. You can’t do it from the web, although you can see which titles are eligible there. And I think it’s one book per account, even though you could have 6 Kindles on one account. Another interesting factoid about KOLL is the money is allocated PER BORROW without regard to cover price. When I had my 99 cent novella (now free, by the way, thanks to price matching) in KDP Select, I made more money from a KOLL borrow than from a sale. I would think this plan would need to be more sophisticated.


Ray 16 July, 2014 um 11:07 pm

I will join it when it is available to me. As the other subscription service doesn’t allow me to read the books on my e-ink reader (which is actually a Kindle), I cannot read for more than 10 minutes on my phone.


Rich Meyer 17 July, 2014 um 4:43 pm

Until authors find out what kind of cut they’ll be getting from this, it’s hard to really form a proper opinion on our end. If it’s like KOLL, it might be worth it then to go back into Select for this. If it’s like, say, akin to Spotify, then nope.

Nate Hoffelder 17 July, 2014 um 5:56 pm

Here:


fjtorres 18 July, 2014 um 8:12 am

They just went live:
https://www.amazon.com/Kindle-eBooks/b?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0&ie=UTF8&node=9578129011&pfShowFeatures=

Works with Kindles and Kindle apps, maximum of ten books out at a time, return at any time…

The link Nate offered above says KDP Select publishers get credited when the reader exceeds 10%, not when the title is downloaded, and they do get paid even if the title is no longer on Select.

Interesting experiment.

Nate Hoffelder 18 July, 2014 um 8:13 am

Yep. Got the press release, working on a post.


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