Whether you’re a bookworm or an occasional reader, many of us have been reading voraciously during recent times — and regardless of whether you’re a “real book” or e-book fan, all that reading can make a hefty dent in your budget. Luckily, Amazon created Kindle Unlimited. Launched in 2014, the service grants you access to over a million titles for Kindle, including e-books, comic books, audiobooks, and even magazines.
You might already have considered subscribing to Kindle Unlimited, or perhaps you’re not sure if it’s worth the money. Here’s how you can find out. We explain how it works, how to get started, and whether you should spend your hard-earned cash on a subscription.
What do you get with Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited works like a library — you can check out up to 10 e-books, audiobooks, or comic books at any one time, or take advantage of included magazine subscriptions to titles like Women’s Health, Stuff, and Good Housekeeping, among others. Borrow titles as often as you like, as there are no due dates (so no penalties if you forget to return a book). The Kindle Unlimited catalog contains a variety of titles from different genres and authors — everything from crime fiction to romance, science fiction, and fantasy. However, you’ll find the focus is on self-published, indie authors. That’s great if you enjoy discovering new authors and stepping out of your reading comfort zones, but not so great if you’re after the latest Michael Connelly book.
Do you need a Kindle device to read Kindle books?
You can pick up the latest Kindle Paperwhite for under $100 on Amazon right now — but you don’t need a Kindle device to read books from Kindle Unlimited. The Kindle reading app is available for iOS, Android, PC, and Mac, so you can read anywhere, at any time. It’s free to download, and if you do have a Kindle device, it saves your last page read to your account, so you’ll never lose your place.
How to get started with Kindle Unlimited
You can browse the current Kindle Unlimited catalog before deciding whether to subscribe. To sign up for a 30-day Kindle Unlimited free trial or subscribe to Kindle Unlimited — it costs $10 a month — you’ll need to sign in to your Amazon account. Then click on the menu (the three bars at the top left) and select Kindle E-Readers and Books, then click Kindle Unlimited. Confirm you want to sign up for a free trial — or, if you’ve already had your free trial, you’ll be prompted to confirm you want to join. Once you’re signed up, you can view the catalog by clicking Kindle Unlimited in the menu.
Borrowing books on Kindle Unlimited
To download a book, just click on the book you want and click Read for $0.00 to download it to your device. If you have a Kindle device and also use the reading app, make sure you scroll down and choose the device you want to read on right now from the drop-down menu under Deliver to. Remember you can have up to 10 books at any one time — if you’ve reached your limit, you’ll need to return a book before borrowing another.
How to listen to audiobooks with Kindle Unlimited
As well as e-books, Kindle Unlimited gives you access to more than 2,000 audiobooks, and when you borrow an e-book through Kindle Unlimited, you’ll also get the option to buy audiobooks at a reduced price with Whispersync deals. You’ll need the Audible app to listen to audiobooks, and you can download it on almost any device, from your phone, tablet, computer, or Kindle device to Alexa-enabled devices, Sonos speakers, and Fire TV. You don’t need an Audible membership — just log in to your Amazon account once you’ve downloaded the app. Look out for the headphones symbol next to the Kindle Unlimited logo when you’re browsing books on Amazon, and click “Read and Listen for free” to download the audiobook to your Audible library.
Where an audiobook isn’t available for free on Kindle Unlimited, you’ll sometimes see Whispersync deals in the menu below the Read for free button — for example, Add Audible book to your purchase for $x.xx. Just check the box next to this before you click Read for free and the audiobook will be added to your purchase.
To return books you’ve finished reading, log in to your Amazon account on your PC, tablet, or phone and go to Manage your Content and Devices. Select the title you want to return from the list. In the pop-up window, click Return this book, then click Yes to confirm. You can also return books through the Kindle app or your device’s library.
Canceling your Kindle Unlimited membership
There’s no commitment with Kindle Unlimited, and you can cancel at any time. If you decide to cancel your subscription, just go to the menu, select Your Account, and scroll to Memberships and Subscriptions. From here you can view and manage all your subscriptions. Choose your Kindle Unlimited subscription and click Manage subscription to change your card or billing details or cancel your membership. Select End membership on [DATE] and fill out the date you want your membership to end. It will remain active until your next billing date — but this feature is handy if you want to cancel for a future date beyond that. Once your billing date passes and your membership is canceled, any Kindle Unlimited titles you have checked out will be deleted from your devices.
Kindle Unlimited vs. Prime Reading: Which is better?
Both options are excellent choices, but if you already have a Prime membership, the Unlimited choice may not make sense. You have access to over 1000 books, comics, and media from your Prime membership, including pieces from big-name publishing houses. However, if you’re looking to expand your horizons and find reading material from new and under the radar authors, Kindle Unlimited could be your window into new worlds.
The purpose of Kindle Unlimited is to give new authors and smaller publishing houses center stage. You’ll get recommendations based on your reading habits, but you may not find that latest bestseller. On the other hand, Prime Reading is packed with popular books from familiar publishers, along with a selection of bestsellers, and all books are hand-picked by the editors.
Ultimately, each of these products operates to satisfy different demographics of readers. Prime Reading is an excellent service for readers who already have an understanding of the authors, publishers, and genres that they love. This product will connect you with fan-favorites through quick lists and direct access to many titles. Kindle Unlimited serves readers who champion debut authors and hope to discover brand new lesser-known titles.
You can access Prime Reading through your Amazon Prime membership. It costs $12.99 monthly, and the membership also includes speedy shipping, Prime Music, and Prime Video. Both Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited offer similar simultaneous check-outs— you’re allotted ten books.
If you’re unsure which service to choose, the number of books you read during a given month could help you narrow down a choice. If you’re an occasional-reader, who likes to read well-known authors and books at a leisurely pace, then Prime Reading may be the fit for you. If you’re a bookworm who tears through several books each month, you may find more value from Kindle Unlimited. Most of the books in the Kindle catalog are already competitively priced, so you’ll need to read quite a bit to get the most bang for your buck with this membership.
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