Kindle Unlimited was introduced in July 2014. For $9.99 you got unlimited access to over 600,000 books. The number has now grown to over 700,000 books. If you’re a voracious reader, $9.99 a month may not seem like a whole lot. But $10/month does add up to $120 a year, and chances are that even if you’re tempted during slower months to go for the Kindle Unlimited deal, you may regret it once you end up paying $10 a month during months when you manage to read only one or two books made available as part of the Kindle Unlimited program. Also, many of the good, great, and excellent books you can get through various Kindle deals are not available -- for free, that is -- to Kindle Unlimited members.
Kindle Unlimited: Is It Worth $120 a Year?
This article discusses the value of various Kindle Deals (Daily Deals, Deals of Up to 85% Off, Cyber Monday Deals, Kindle Best Sellers, etc.) vs. that of Kindle Unlimited.
Kindle Daily Deals
Before you decide to pay for the Unlimited deal, remember there’s always the Kindle Daily Deal, with books at $1.99, $0.99, or $2.99. Some of these books are really good, and while the majority of them are offered as part of the Kindle Unlimited deal as well, there are many that aren’t. And even if all of them were, the great price of the Daily Deals means that you can get 5 books or more a month without paying for Kindle Unlimited.
Kindle Paperwhite, Hi-Res Display (212 ppi), Built-in Light, Wi-Fi Only ($99)
Kindle Voyage, 6" Hi-Res Display (300 ppi), Adaptive Built-in Light, Wi-Fi Only ($219)
Cyber Monday Kindle Deals 2014
Cyber Monday Kindle Deals offered access to thousands of books this year. I think something like over 4,000 titles. I browsed most of the list, and bought thirteen books. I can’t remember what I paid for them exactly, but I believe the majority of the titles in the Cyber Monday deal were $1.99 or $2.99. It was worth it to browse this very long Cyber Monday Kindle Deals list because it included some excellent titles which sell for much more. The book The 20th Century in Poetry, for instance, edited by Michael Hulse and Simon Rae, now sells for $9.99, and the flamboyant book Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an Art Forger, by Ken Perenyi, for $10.99. There were also some nice Black Friday Kindle Deals this year.
Big Deals of Up to 85% Off
Every once in a while Amazon replaces their Kindle Monthly Deals (with books at $3.99 or less) with what they call Big Deals: heavily discounted books which are usually pricier than those chosen for the Daily and Monthly Deals.
Among other Big Deal books, this December I bought Matthieu Ricard’s book on Happiness and a book on labrador retrievers. Of the 416 titles listed under the Kindle Big Deal of this month (expires December 21), 195 are available to Kindle Unlimited customers. The ones I mentioned aren’t.
Kindle Best Sellers (Kindle Top 100)
Today, December 20, 2014, my Kindle shows a list of 100 Best Sellers, calling it Kindle Top 100 (Paid). It’s not clear to me whether this is a Top 100 for the whole of 2014 or a Top 100 for today. I got on Amazon online using my laptop and the Best Sellers list there, updated daily, listed more or less the same books in a different order. In any event, the Top 100 on my Kindle has some great deals, but overall the prices vary greatly, from $1.99 to over $10.
Of the 100 books I see on my Kindle today under Best Sellers, 31 are offered for free to Kindle Unlimited members, and 4 books are made available to Amazon Prime members, who get to borrow one Kindle book for free each month, in addition to free two-day shipping, unlimited Cloud photo storage (as of November 4, 2014), and access to movies and music. The Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year.
12 Days of Kindle Deals
Last holiday season, instead of Daily Deals, Amazon started offering two books each day as part of a deal package they styled 12 Days of Kindle Deals. This year the two books belong to two categories: “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” and “Best Books of 2014.” Admittedly, some books are actually misplaced in these categories, but at $1.99 or $2.99 chances are you could spend your money on worse books. The two books featured today are A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: A Memoir Based on a True Story, by Dave Eggers, selling at $1.99, and The Painter by Peter Heller, selling for $2.99. Neither one of these titles is available under the Kindle Unlimited deal.
Kindle Select 25
Every week Amazon offers a Kindle Select 25 Deal on 25 bestselling books, new releases, editor’s picks, and various other books they have some interest to promote. They’re mostly popular fiction, with some literary fiction titles and a few nonfiction books in between. Of the 25 titles I see on my Kindle today, only 11 are part of the Kindle Unlimited program.
Books under Kinder Select 25 usually sell for $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, or $4.99, but you'll also find a few books selling for more ($5.99, or $8.99, for instance).
In 2011 Amazon launched KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select, a program that compensated writers for making their books exclusive to Amazon Kindle for at least 90 days. In august 2012 these titles had been downloaded over 100 million times over the course of a year. Kindle Exclusives currently numbers 780,997 titles.
New and Noteworthy
This section on my Kindle has 119 titles today. Even though New and Noteworthy appears under Featured, where all the various Kindle deals are listed, the books under this listing are not discounted. The Boston Girl, for instance, by Anita Diamant, costs $11.89.
Finally, among all the deals Amazon offers for their readers of Kindle books, there’s Kindle First, a chance to read one of four books a month before their official publication date. The ones offered today cost $4.99 each. Any one of the four books are available for free to Amazon Prime members. They are not available for free to Kindle Unlimited members.