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Amazon Is Testing a $10-Per-Month Ebook Service 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the what-is-a-library dept.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Details are still scarce but it looks like Amazon is going to be launching a competitor to Scribd and Oyster. Earlier today new pages leaked on the Amazon website which mentioned Kindle Unlimited, a new subscription ebook service. The pages were quickly removed, but not before we got some screenshots. If the screenshots are to be believed Kindle Unlimited is going to offer a catalog of over 600,000 titles for $9.99 a month. The news hasn't been confirmed by Amazon but those pages were seen by a number of authors and bloggers, including indie authors who confirmed that the new service is mentioned in their sales reports."
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Amazon Is Testing a $10-Per-Month Ebook Service

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  • by B33rNinj4 (666756) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:11PM (#47467411) Homepage Journal
    I'll stick to either buying them, or getting shared copies from friends.
    • Re:No thank you. (Score:4, Informative)

      by SQLGuru (980662) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:14PM (#47467441) Journal

      I'm assuming that it will be the same books that are in the Kindle lending library. It's a feature of Amazon Prime where you can check out 1 book at a time (and only one new book per month). It's limited as it currently exists, but I assume when this feature hits, your Prime account will let you have one book out at a time with more than one swap per month.

      • Re:No thank you. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by David_Hart (1184661) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:45PM (#47467715)

        I'm assuming that it will be the same books that are in the Kindle lending library. It's a feature of Amazon Prime where you can check out 1 book at a time (and only one new book per month). It's limited as it currently exists, but I assume when this feature hits, your Prime account will let you have one book out at a time with more than one swap per month.

        Our family and friends share an Amazon account for Kindle books.

        If the subscription service allows books to be installed on more than one Kindle (i.e. up to 5), then this might work for us. It would allow us to use the same account but have access to the full library. However, if it is limited to the lending library, does not have newer books, or does not allow multiple Kindles then I'll pass.

        The ideal would be to to have a subscription service that allows multiple Kindles and has access to the full Kindle library. I'm willing to bet, though, that Publishers would only be willing to sign up for something like this if it is restricted to older books. They will still want the revenue from full priced new books.

        • by SQLGuru (980662)

          We haven't tried checking out books form the lending library to multiple devices, but my wife and I regularly have the same books on both of our Kindles they we've bought or were free (logged in as the same shared account w/ Prime).

          • by afidel (530433)

            How does that work with WhisperSync? Aren't you constantly getting thrown to wherever in the book the other person last read to?

            • You either get constant prompts to go to the "furthest read page", or reset the furthest page after you finish a book and don't read the same one at the same time, or disable WhisperSync.

              If you go for #2, good news: they did actually make a way for the user to do this (in the past, you had to contact customer service). Unfortunately, it's something that you have to do for each book, you can't select a bunch and say "reset all".

              If you go for #3, then you lose the advantage of one person using multiple device

      • by rossdee (243626)

        And Prime only costs $100 per year ($10 per month is $120 per year) and Prime gives you the free 2 day shipping and access to free Prime videos and music

        I'll stick witht my existing Prime suscription.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You mean, you'll stick to buying licenses which can be revoked at any time.

      At least this rental service is upfront to what it does. You don't own the books, you never did.

      • by _UnderTow_ (86073)

        You don't own the books, you never did.

        I'm OK with this. In my opinion, ownership of books is overrated. There are pros and cons to physical ownership just as there are pros and cons to ebooks.

        I have teenaged children that read a lot, and ebooks allow them to all read the same book on their phones/tablets at the same time. I've witnessed them argue about who gets to read a new physical book first, and I'm glad to sidestep that entire argument.

        With ebooks I don't have to store the book. I can't lose it or leave it on the train I take to work

  • by cowtamer (311087) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:15PM (#47467451) Journal

    So for better or worse, everything is going to turn into a subscription service. You'll subscribe to read books, listen to music, stream movies, etc. Soon, we'll have grocery store subscriptions, subscriptions to hospitals (I think they're called HMOs), etc. I can imagine a furniture delivery & maintenance subscription too. At the end of the month, we'll probably see about $50 out of our paycheck -- which we won't even need to buy coffee, since we'll all have Starbucks subscriptions!!!

    This will be great until, God forbid, the plug is pulled for some reason (unemployment, desire to take a couple of months off, etc.), at which point nobody will own anything...

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:31PM (#47467601) Homepage

      at which point nobody will own anything...

      Why of course, that's the ultimate goal.

      Why sell you something when we can endlessly rent it to you?

      I will hold out from this model for as long as possible, because I don't give a shit about the profitability of these companies and their rent-seeking behavior.

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:50PM (#47467767) Homepage
      I think it's actually quite a good way to get your music/movies/tv shows/books. I think it make the least sense for music because music tends to have a lot of replay value. People will listen to the same song or album over and over again. But for books, movies, and fiction books, you might use them once, twice, maybe even 20 times, but most people are constantly watching/reading new stuff. There's very little point to having a collection of movies you've already seen, or a house full of books you've already read. If they can get the price right, then they stand to make more money, and the person consuming the content will have access to a much larger library then they could every hope to purchase on their own. They are also more likely to branch out and look at other genres they hadn't considered before because they don't have to spend extra money to do so. And for media, it doesn't really matter much if you stop paying the subscription because you lost your job. You just can't watch any movies until you get a job again. Which many people are probably OK with. If it means I could have access to all of (or a large subset of) the media produced, I'm much happier spending $10 a month to have access to everything than spending $10 a month to have only 1 new item every month.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So for better or worse, everything is going to turn into a subscription service.

      Sounds like cable. 600,000 books and nothing good to read. Maybe the ads will be funny.

    • by fermion (181285)
      or convenience fee. Here is the problem with e-books and libraries. They are just like physical books. There is only one or two 'copies' to check out. For a physical library this was a real constraint, as the library could only house so many books. For e-books it is a fake constraint. Libraries should have access to as many copies of a book once they pay a basic fee to access the book, then simply pay a per use fee when the book is checked out. Maybe $5 for acess and a 50 cents for use. It costs the
    • How often do you reread books? Or listen to music over again? Or watch the same movie.

      Fact is, an all you can eat plan is alluring because there's a lot of stuff we buy, use once, and can't do anything with. Sure, back in the day you could sell your used book to a book store, or swap them, but DRM is stopping that. It makes sense that people would prefer an all you can eat plan -- then the DRM becomes irrelevant, because you really don't own the content.

      Of course some things you'd still rather own -- e.

      • by afidel (530433)

        Of those only music is something I normally repeat, I own a few hundred albums and I've listened to most of them many, many times despite having a Pandora subscription. Pandora is background noise/going to sleep noise for me, the act of listening to an album is a completely different experience. Then again I'm a self identifying non-stupid audiophile (better looking lamp cord is find for me, no moster cables in my system, but I did spend $2,100 on high quality speakers) so my enjoyment derived from music an

        • For me, the intriguing thing is how often do I relisten to music?

          There are some classic albums (e.g. Nirvana) that I literally have been listening to for decades.

          But I think for the bulk of the music I buy, there is a window (depending on the album) of 1 - 6 months that I play it regularly.

          Therefore, streaming services might be a better deal...

    • by gnupun (752725)

      So for better or worse, everything is going to turn into a subscription service. You'll subscribe to read books, listen to music, stream movies, etc.

      The 10 year cost for this subscription is $1,200, which is damn cheap, equivalent to 20 or 50 books. Most bookworms read way more than 50 books in 10 years. So you have to wonder, after amazon takes its cut from the subscription fees, how much will the authors/publishers get? They're gonna get shafted.

  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:18PM (#47467479)

    If this arrangement applied to all books in the Kindle format, with unlimited one-book-at-a-time availability, I would be on it like scales on lawyers.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      Do you have a Prime account? http://www.amazon.com/gp/featu... [amazon.com]

      The most annoying part about the Lending Library is that you can only swap out books once per month.

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        The most annoying part about the Lending Library is that you can only swap out books once per month.

        No, the most annoying part is that you have to have a Kindle device.

        I have lots of devices that support the Kindle reading app, so why should I have to buy an actual Kindle to use the Lending Library? I know my Kindle apps support reading books loaned from other people, and those books disappear once the loan period is up, so there is no technical reason behind the limitation.

        • Like I posted (at the same time as you, apparently!), it's worse than that. I have a Kindle device, but I have to read the book JUST on the Kindle, I can't switch to any of the alternate devices, which is something I do all the time when reading a book. Whether I'm at my desk (Kindle for Mac/Windows), on the bus (iPhone/iPad), or at home, reading before bed (Kindle PW), I want to be able to read the same book, which just doesn't work for the KOLL checkout system.

      • In my opinion, the most annoying part about the Lending Library is that you can only read the KOLL book on an actual Kindle. I use a Kindle Paperwhite, iPad, iPhone, Kindle for Mac, and Kindle for PC, but I can only read that checked-out book on the Kindle? Why?

  • High useage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:22PM (#47467509) Homepage
    I am a heavy reader and this would save me money.

    But it would also mean I would have to give up paper and switch entirely to my e-reader, which I currently use for about 1/2 to 1/3 my purchasers. There are a lot of advantages still for paper books- charts, graphs and pictures for example do not show up well on ereaders. Nor do I worry about taking a paperback anyplace. I can take them on a camping/rafting trip.

    It would also mean I would end up being locked into Amazon, not a good thing. I don't trust them as much as I trust Barnes and Nobles, as they have done vile things before (Hatchet, pulling back books people purchased)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They have a free subscription plan for dead tree editions, it is called the public library ;-)

      • Depending on your library, you might also be able to take out ebooks like you take out paperbacks. In fact, since we're New York State residents, we're members of both our local library and the New York Public Library. They have different amounts of ebooks available and different waiting lists. So if we can't get it from one, we can likely get it from the other.

    • "switch entirely"
      Actually no, it does not prevent you from buying paper books at all.

      "locked into Amazon"
      Actually no, the most you can be out is only the amount on money you've spent for the current subscription term plus one more if you are currently reading something that is completely unavailable from any other source and which you are unwilling to leave unfinished (though if that work is so important I wonder if purchasing would not have been the correct move anyway).

      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        My statements are dependent upon me being a rational human being that does not waist money. If that doesn't apply then this service makes no sense. Your complaints all assume I am an idiot that spends money on a service then does not use it.

        If it doesn't save me money, then why would anyone use it? See additional problems I mentioned. If I kept buying paper books at my current rate, then it would not save me money. Similarly, it makes zero sense to buy an ebook from B&N if it is available through

        • by Abstrackt (609015)

          Similarly, it makes zero sense to buy an ebook from B&N if it is available through this program. So it does mean I am effectively locked into Amazon.

          You're "effectively locked in" because they offer a better deal? You have no choice but to go for the cheapest option? Sorry, but that's like me saying I'm locked in to buying my groceries at Wal-Mart because they sell them cheaper than the local supermarket. While it may be more expensive we can both shop elsewhere if our morals dictate that the cheaper option is not the better one. If you don't trust Amazon don't give them your money. Then you can chalk the difference in price up to the cost of mainta

        • "Similarly, it makes zero sense to buy an ebook from B&N if it is available through this program."

          If you *currently* have the subscription service then your *current* choice would be to not buy thorugh B&N. However, your *future* choices are not constrained if the terms of the service change unfavorable (since you can you just drop the service).

          Since "constraint on future decisions" is what lock-in means, and there would be no constraint, there is no lock-in.

    • by bangular (736791)
      Charts, graphs, equations, and possibly others show up terribly on kindle apps. In chrome, when I resize a page, it seems graphics for the most part resize as well. Not so in kindle. I have some school textbooks I purchased from amazon as ebooks that are only 80% useful because of unusable graphics.
      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        I know - same thing with B&N's nook. The only zoom functionality increase font size. Worse, they always size things so the entire graphic fits on the screen, never splitting into multiple pages. They really need the ability to zoom on a picture. Or include all pictures in a book separately as a zoomable file.
        • That's why I rarely buy nonfiction for my Nook. Most of my book purchases this year have been fiction on the Nook and real paper editions of more technical books. (I actually bought a paper version of "Skin Game" so I could lend it easily.)

  • I wonder how they managed to work out a deal with the publishers to make this work, if they already have. I was under the impression at least a couple publishers were displeased with Amazon's practices, that was supposedly part of the reason they were offering Apple a better deal than Amazon. I'd like to see this service succeed, though, so hopefully everyone who matters is or will be on board. Maybe one day, a monthly fee to Amazon will allow you access to all media, whether it's movies, books, games, or a
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:25PM (#47467525) Journal

    My wife goes through 8-12 novels a month, and often the more recent ones are either not available from the local library or are checked out/reserved, so we're spending $40 or more on new or used books that generally get given away when she's done with them. She almost never re-reads, so there's no real loss in the rental model for her.

    So depending on what the selection is like, it might be worth it. Even more so if it's a per-family cost instead of a per-device, since my daughter seems to be trying her best to put B&N back in the black, esp. during summer months.

    • Check to see whether your local library lends out eBooks. Ours does and we take out a lot of eBooks this way. It might save you some money on buying new/used books.

    • by praxis (19962)

      My wife goes through 8-12 novels a month, and often the more recent ones are either not available from the local library or are checked out/reserved, so we're spending $40 or more on new or used books that generally get given away when she's done with them.

      I solved a similar problem by time-shifting my reading a little. When I want to read a book, I reserve it at the library. When my place in line comes up, I read it. With a sufficiently flexible schedule I read everything I want to read, just not immediately. That's okay though because my reading list is long enough that I'm not without things to read.

  • And I might, perhaps, consider it.

    Even if "no DRM" ought to be in the list, too, but I wouldn't demand that from Amazon.

    • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:44PM (#47467699)
      DRM is a publisher choice. It is a checkbox in the Amazon "publish my book" interface. All of my books sold through amazon are DRM free. If you want to know how to tell (since it is non-obvious)... under "product details" there is an item called "Simultaneous Device Usage" if that says "unlimited" it is DRM free.
      • by praxis (19962)

        DRM is a publisher choice. It is a checkbox in the Amazon "publish my book" interface. All of my books sold through amazon are DRM free. If you want to know how to tell (since it is non-obvious)... under "product details" there is an item called "Simultaneous Device Usage" if that says "unlimited" it is DRM free.

        If a book says unlimited, is the file actually DRM free, or is the DRM just permissive. Can a publisher, or Amazon, later change that number from unlimited to something more restrictive and push out the update to terms to devices just like they can push out deletion commands to devices?

        • by Sasayaki (1096761)

          Kindle author here (and other platforms too).

          The book is genuinely DRM free. The .mobi file format, which is what Amazon uses, is well documented by FOSS projects such as Calibre. You can transcode your DRM free .mobi files into .epub (which is just a .zip with HTML in it), into PDFs, Word documents, even plain text.

          All of my books are DRM free for this reason (and many are also free-as-in-beer).

          • by praxis (19962)

            The book is genuinely DRM free.

            So is there a conclusive way on the Amazon website to tell before making a purchase that a file is not DRM protected? From what I've read of the mobi documentation there is a new DRM scheme that requires client-side account verification which does not use device ids encoded in the file by the server, which would imply "unlimited" devices permitted but the book would still be tied to an account. Does Amazon notate the distinction somehow?

    • Question – how would a lending library work without DRM? Subscribe for one month, download a thousand books, cancel, and keep the books? Anything better than the honor system? (Note, this is only a limited argument for DRM in context of lending or a all you can eat streaming buffet.)

      • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @02:43PM (#47468909) Homepage

        Question â" how would a lending library work without DRM? Subscribe for one month, download a thousand books, cancel, and keep the books?

        That's pretty much how it already is with ebook libraries that use Amazon or Adobe's DRM solution. From discussions on pirate ebook communities, I've seen that it's already common for pirates to buy a temporary subscription to a service, download everything through some clever scripting, break the DRM, upload to a pirate site, and let their temporary subscription lapse. Considering how trivial it is to break the DRM on these books, it really is only the honour system keeping people paying.

        • by kesuki (321456)

          drm is trivial because the fundamental concept of what a computer is is a device that reads memory processes that memory through an script or program and then dump the useful data to a memory device.

          this means that any device dumps useful data somewhere. no encryption scheme is unbreakable and with digital is totally dependent on the end user not intentionally adding a mod chip to the device to read and capture the data in an unencrypted form from the own devices memory as it passes along the chain.

          as a sid

  • How about a $10 month unlimited Audiobook service?

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:39PM (#47467663) Homepage Journal

    eBook service called: The Library.
    You should see if your library has an eBook lending service.

    Seriously, if you don't want to own it, why wouldn't you use a library?
    This also goes for movies and games.
    Your library doesn't do this or have enough titles? get involved.

    • Ours does. But there are limits on their copies, and limits to their purchasing budget, which means very few new books in a given year. Interestingly, they also have CDs and DVDs - yet the selection I can get for $10 through Spotify or NetFlix, available any time with no worries about the item(s) I want being checked out, is 100x as large as theirs.

      Libraries are good. But if you're okay dropping $10/mo for a much larger selection (potentially...nobody knows yet) it still might be worth it.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:57PM (#47467837) Homepage

      eBook service called: The Library.
      You should see if your library has an eBook lending service.

      You joke, but my mother in law used to work at a local library. A very small local library with a very small budget.

      At one point, they started getting into eBook lending. Because the publishers are greedy, the cost of an eBook to a library is huge -- in the hundreds if not thousands per title.

      Basically what they used to do was go to book sales, used book stores and stuff like that, and buy a very large amount of titles for the library. It was inexpensive, and got them a lot of titles.

      After the eBook thing, they had no budget for new paper books, and only about 100 eBook titles (or something equally ridiculous). Because they'd spent the entire budget on getting screwed over by publishers.

      Unless you're a very well funded library, eBook lending is so prohibitively expensive that you almost have to give up your money to buy paper books for the library.

      She couldn't retire fast enough, because she figured if they were spending the entire budget on a handful of eBooks, the library was pretty much screwed.

      Me, I prefer to stick with my dead tree editions of books. I can sit by a pool reading Tom Clancy, battery life isn't an issue, water splashing isn't going to be a catastrophic failure, and some greedy bastard doesn't get to monetize my reading habits.

      But I wouldn't think for a minute that eBooks and the like aren't actually damaging many libraries more than they benefit.

    • by jerel (112066)
      See: https://www.overdrive.com/ [overdrive.com] I don't know how other libraries do it, but this is how ours handles it. Yes, there are limitations, but add up all of the subscriptions we are now being asked to fund every month. Everything is becoming a monthly fee, conveniently charged to your credit card or coming out of your bank account.
  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @12:40PM (#47467677)
    My DRM-free, Amazon hosted and sold ebooks already net me more revenue via "Kindle Lending Library" (where customers may pick one "free" book per month if they are prime and kindle customers) than they do via sales.

    The way the lending library works is they fund it every month, then they divide it up based on how often your book was checked out. I assume the ebook service would be similar, but better funded.
    • by Talahamut (167226)

      Why so? I mean, do your books lend themselves (no pun intended) to more people checking them out (ugh...) via that method rather than through a purchase?

    • by Sasayaki (1096761)

      Fellow author here. The problem is, it requires Prime, and the payment is only a borrow. Expect the borrow rate to increase. Of course, that's fine if Amazon increases the pool accordingly; they might treat Kindle Unlimited as a loss-leader and just accept that some people will read 50 books a month and accept the loss, or recoup it on those who buy subscriptions but never read anything.

      Prime just isn't worth it for me, because it requires KDP Select, which is essentially Amazon exclusivity. I make about eq

  • It's kinda like cable tv: 500 channels, of which 450 are QVC, 40 are rerun channels, and 10 are worth watching.

    Similarly, gutenberg.org plus its "affiliates" claim 100k books, but rather a lot of them are of extremely limited interest to anyone other than historians.

    Amazon has roughly 33 million listings; even allowing for overlap between kindle, paperback, and hardcover (and audio), 600k is a rather small fraction of what's out there.

  • by wiggles (30088)

    I pay $300 per year in my property tax bill for the public library system in my town. Why would I use anything else?

    • by hendrips (2722525)

      I can't speak for you, but in my case it's because the selection in my local library system sucks. They continually overspend building fancy new buildings with statues and whatnot, but can't seem to find any money for a wide variety of books to put in them. And let's not even mention the selection of audiobooks.

      • by CRCulver (715279)
        "I don't use the library because it has a shitty selection" doesn't wash for a large amount of public libraries in the United States. Inter-library loan can get you whatever title you want, no matter how obscure, for a fee of as little as 50 cents (or even for free).
  • Earlier today new pages leaked on the Amazon website

    Someone "accidently" leaked pages on a website. This was not an intentional plan to raise hype all over the internet over a new subscription service. Of course not.

  • Seriously, that is what that is.
  • I might actually like it if they handle it like they do Audible. Pay a flat monthly rate for credits to buy a single book of your choice per credit (The maximum subscription is currently 2 credits/month), the ability to bank credits you don't use, and discounts on books that you want to buy when you are out of credits. You keep the books you purchase in your digital library indefinitely.

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