Amazon’s puzzling Kindle Unlimited program

Amazon has unveiled a new subscription service called Kindle Unlimited, designed to give Kindle readers unlimited access to a limited library of eBooks, all for $9.99 a month.

From the Kindle FAQ:

Kindle Unlimited is a new service that allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. Freely explore new authors, books, and genres from mysteries and romance to sci-fi and more. You can read on any device. It’s available for $9.99 a month and you can cancel anytime.

The problem I have with Kindle Unlimited is the same problem I had with Amazon Prime Music. When I first dug into the Prime Music library, none of the music I looked for was included. There certainly was plenty to choose from, but it felt like looking through the cutout bin at the record store.

At least I could rationalize Amazon Prime Music, since I was already a Prime member and Prime Music was included at no extra charge. Kindle Unlimited, on the other hand, has a similar restricted choice, but runs about $120 a year. I spent some time digging through the Kindle Unlimited library and did not find a single title on my reading list. And it’s not like I was picking obscure titles. These were popular books with hundreds of reviews.

From the linked NY Times article:

The service, Kindle Unlimited, offers a Netflix-style, all-you-can-read approach to more than 600,000 e-books, including blockbuster series like “The Hunger Games” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” nonfiction titles like “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis, as well as literary fiction and classics.

So far, however, none of the five biggest publishers appear to be making their books available through the service.

HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster, for example, are not participating, representatives from the three companies confirmed.

Penguin Random House and Macmillan declined to comment, but a search on Amazon suggests that they are not making their books available.

I think this is a bit of a stumble for Amazon, a money grab. I’m an insatiable reader and I would go for this if all of Amazon’s book library was included. But as is, no thanks.