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Amazon(s AMZN) is testing an ebook and audiobook subscription service called “Kindle Unlimited” that offers “unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month.” Most of the test pages were pulled down Wednesday after some users on the Kindle Boards noticed them, but they are still available through Google Cache and some are still live on Amazon’s site.
Amazon’s service, which has been rumored for a couple of months, would compete with existing ebook subscription services Scribd and Oyster. Publishers Lunch reported last month that Amazon was speaking to U.S. publishers about participating in such a service.
One page, still active at the time of this post and titled “KU Test,” shows 638,416 available titles, and you can browse through them. Among them are many books from Amazon’s publishing imprints, and many books that were already available through Amazon’s Kindle Owners Lending Library, which allows Prime members who own a Kindle to borrow one free ebook per month. That includes the Hunger Games series and the Harry Potter series.
We also surfaced a promotional video for Kindle Unlimited, and a few more facts about it, including some information about how authors are likely to get paid for participation.
No big-5 publisher appears to be participating yet, based on my preliminary glance through the test pages. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins have both made their ebooks available to Scribd and Oyster, but I haven’t yet seen books from those publishers on the Kindle Unlimited page, though I’m not done poking through all 600,000+ titles yet. Among the publishers that do appear to be participating based on the books available through the test page — and, it should be noted, are participating in Oyster and Scribd as well:
- Algonquin (Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen)
- Harvard University Press (Capital by Thomas Piketty)
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (The Giver by Lois Lowry, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin)
- Open Road Media
- W.W. Norton (Flash Boys by Michael Lewis)
- Workman (Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)
Another difference between this service, Oyster and Scribd appears to be the availability of audiobooks. The test page lists 7,351 “Whispersync for Voice” titles.
I’ve asked Amazon for comment and will update this post if I hear back.