Amazon has just launched a new service called Kindle Unlimited. In short, you can read any of 600,000+ titles on Kindle for $10 a month. Think Netflix for books. This is interesting in several ways.
First, Amazon is already a loss leader in the market. The reason they’re so big is because they lose money on most of the books they sell (allowing them to sell more because they’re the cheapest). Given that many of the books they sell are upwards of $10. I have to wonder how this affects their costs and what sorts of deals the struck with publishers to make it happen.
Second, this isn’t just on Kindle devices. Any device that can run the Kindle app (PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices, to name a few) can use this service. Amazon used to have a sort of book borrowing service (like Netflix, but before streaming), but that was only if you owned Kindle hardware. The openness of this seems contrary to what one might have guessed their strategy with the Fire Phone had been. At the same time, it seems to be a good move since it will likely cut into iBooks sales—which had hurt them substantially recently.
Third, from what I remember, Amazon Prime started out as a shipping service. Later they got instant videos, and most recently they added music. Books weren’t added to Prime and I have to wonder if it has anything to do with the number of people who read books vs. those who listen to music and watch videos. Most of Amazon’s subscription services seem to fall under the umbrella of Prime, but not books. Books are different.
Fourth, most commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and good books on theology seem to be missing from this list of 600,000+ titles. Since I spend less than $10 a month on books outside of that field, I probably won’t personally be interested in the service. But it will be interesting to see what they end up adding over time.