It seems that Amazon is gearing up to launch a books subscription service, after images advertising the service, called Kindle Unlimited, briefly appeared on the US version of the website before being deleted. Because nothing on the internet ever truly dies, they can still be seen via Google, and GigaOm, who first reported the news, were also able to pull a video from the site.
These show that the service would offer access to more than 600,000 titles, from Life of Pi to Lord of the Rings. It also appears to include both ebooks and audio books. Amazon hasn’t responded to press requests for comment, so there’s no word on when this might actually launch, but given the success of streaming models like Netflix and Amazon’s own investment in its Prime video service, plus the popularity of ebooks, this seems like a move that a lot of customers would embrace.
Kindle already offers a borrowing service to Prime customers, but it’s limited to one book a month. Screenshots show the monthly cost for Kindle Unlimited to be $9.99 (£5.80), a much better deal for voracious readers. It could however prove a blow for existing book subscription services like Oyster (which is $9.95 per month and offers a choice of 500,000 books) and Scribd ($8.99 for 400,000). And of course it’s unclear as yet what kind of deal this offers for authors.
As with their Fire smartphone and the original Kindle, Amazon tends to debut its innovations in the U.S before bringing them across the pond, so it will probably be a while before we see Kindle Unlimited in the UK. But with libraries losing funding left and right, maybe this is how we’ll all be borrowing books in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see whether that turns out to be a good thing.