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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: Kindle Unlimited

During the holiday season, it was possible to get Kindle Unlimited for $5 a month for 6 months. At $10 a month, I wouldn't have gotten value out of it, but at $5/month, it wouldn't take too many books to justify the price of the subscription, so I took a leap of faith and signed up.

What If? was the first book I read on Kindle Unlimited, and it was great, justifying almost a third of the price of the subscription all by itself. But what I discovered was that the real value of Kindle Unlimited is picking up the Kindle Singles that you wouldn't have paid for and read, because those are too expensive for the amount of money they ask for.

For instance, the Playboy Interview of Milton Friedman isn't worth $1, but with a Kindle Unlimited subscription, it's worth reading just to see how much of a crazy guy he was. (And yes, he wasn't all crazy, but he was definitely an extremist, even viewed from the lens of today) I similarly enjoyed the Stephen King interview.

What I did learn is that Kindle Unlimited isn't actually unlimited. It's limited to 10 books (or interviews, whatever you call them). So you can only have a number of these things checked out at once. 10 is big enough that if you have a couple of novels out, you're not going to run through them during the course of a flight or even a week long trip. But if you fill it up with interviews or other Kindle singles, one plane flight might just wipe you out, so you have to plan ahead.

One of the interesting things about Kindle Unlimited is that if you check out the Most Read Books section, you'll discover it's full of romances and YA novels. Which tells you a lot about what the population of people who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited is. The Science Fiction and Business section, by comparison, is very disappointing, though my book of the year, Capital in the Twenty-First Century is available on Kindle Unlimited, and is well worth the read.

Now, there are number of classics available, such as The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, but chances are, you've already read them. But one person's classics is another person's casual reading, so if you missed the Harry Potter series or the Hunger Games series, Kindle Unlimited does give you access to those.

One last genre that's worth pointing out is that the entire Lonely Planet series is available on Kindle Unlimited. Since those books go out of date quickly and the Kindle edition of those books are extremely expensive to buy, it's a very good use of the Kindle Limited edition.

All in all, I think I'll get sufficient value out of the subscription for a 6 month subscription, but I'm unlikely to renew. $5/month seems right for the service, and $10/month seems too much, unless you're one of those who reads 2-3 romance novels a week.

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