Back in my Random Ramblings #12 from February, I mentioned I had a free 6 month trial of Kindle Unlimited. I also promised I’d come back to let you know if I decided to keep the service and give you my general overall impression of the book lending service. Since my free trial was up almost 2 months ago, and I have nothing to contribute to Top Ten Tuesday this week, I figured this would be a good time to finally tell you about my KU experience.
First, I’ll start with telling you I did not continue my subscription once the free trial was over. I enjoyed having free access to certain books, but once I looked at how many books I actually read through KU and what that would mean in terms of cost per “borrow”, it wasn’t worth it for me.
Kindle Unlimited (KU) gives subscribers access to over a million books as well as access to magazines and audio books. I only used it for books. I have never crossed over to reading magazines on an e-reader. I’ve tried and it just was a frustrating experience for me in the past. I’m also not good with audio books. I have nothing against them for other people, but they are not usually my thing. I can read much faster than the narrator has to talk in order to read clearly, so my mind tends to wander and I find I miss key details of the story I’m listening to. And when I’ve tried listening while driving I felt if I gave the story too much attention I was compromising my attention to the road and traffic. So, if you’re a big fan of reading magazines on your e-reader or love listening to audio books, I don’t know that your experience would be the same as mine. Maybe KU is worth it with these other mediums.
In my six months of KU, I only six of the books I borrowed. You are allowed to borrow up to 10 books at a time, which I did, but I didn’t get to all of the books I wanted to read. Since the base price of KU is $9.99 per month (they often have promotions, or you can get a discounted rate by paying for a year in advance) and I only read 5 books through the service, had I been a paying member I would have paid $11.98 per book. Ummmm, no thank you. I love reading on my Kindle Paperwhite, but I would not pay that much for a Kindle book even from my favorite authors.
While I do not think I’m stingy, I am most definitely frugal. Most e-books cannot be shared, and those that can be shared are usually only able to be shared one time. If I’m going to spend over a few dollars on a book I cannot share, it better be a good sized tome by a reliable favorite. Otherwise, I’m going to by the paperback so I can share the joy of reading with others.
I borrow from my local library, the more expanded library cooperative of my county, the even further expanded library of my state, and my online library. On top of that, I’m lucky enough to get quite a few ARCs through Net Galley. With all of these options I often have too many books to read at one time (I know, you can never really have too many books). I’m sure I would have utilized my KU subscription a lot more if I didn’t have all of these other options. And to be sure, there are people who do not have so many options. KU may be worth it for those without the resources I have.
Keep in mind, KU is like any other lending service in the fact that not all titles are available. So you still may not be able to read everything on your wish list. I average about reading about 15 books a month. If I had no other means of acquiring those books other than purchasing them, KU would definitely be worth the cost.
One final thought about all of this. I’m not in the publishing business or an author myself, but more and more I read about Amazon not treating their authors fairly, especially when it comes to the KU books. I’m not up on the exact ins and outs of this issue so I’m not going to speak to it in too many words, but I am first and foremost a fan of authors. We wouldn’t have books to read and publishers wouldn’t have books to publish and editors wouldn’t have books to edit, etc., etc., and so on if there weren’t authors. Not only would KU not save me money, but I want no part in making things more difficult for authors when they already work in such a difficult field.