Will Amazon offer an unlimited e-book and audiobook service?

Some Amazon users spotted an ad for a Kindle Unlimited service, which would let users access as many e-book and audio titles as they wanted (within a certain library) for $9.99 a month.

Mark Lennihan/AP
Amazon's Kindle Fire device is displayed.

Amazon is reportedly testing a subscription service that would let users read as many e-books and audiobooks as they want for $9.99 a month.

An advertisement for the new program apparently popped up on the Amazon website and was seen by users, who posted about it in a Kindle forum, before the web page was taken down. The advertisement called the program Kindle Unlimited and read: “Enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month.”

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment by The Los Angeles Times. According to Los Angeles Times writer Andrea Chang, those who were interested in what Kindle Unlimited can offer were able at one point to search Amazon’s books with a filter of “KU Unlimited,” a search which brought up more than 600,000 titles.

However, as noted by Gigaom writer Laura Hazard Owen, while the available titles included such blockbuster books as the “Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins and the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, those from major publishers like Hachette (which is apparently still involved in negotiations with Amazon), Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and HarperCollins were absent for now. Titles from publishers like Bloomsbury, Algonquin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and others were available, however, as well as titles published by Amazon, as one might imagine.

Amazon Prime members have the option of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which some, like Gizmodo writer Kate Knibbs, are noting seems to have a similar selection to the Kindle Unlimited. However, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library only lets users access one e-book per month.

If more than 600,000 titles are available, Kindle Unlimited would top Scribd, which offers access to more than 400,000 books for $8.99, and Oyster, which lets users in on more than 500,000 books for $9.95. There is, of course, the question of which service would have the most popular titles available (Scribd and Oyster both work with Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins).

In addition, if Kindle Unlimited does offer audiobooks, that would give the service an edge over Scribd and Oyster, neither of which have audio options for customers. 

A promotional video obtained by Gigaom showed the service being used on not only a Kindle e-reader but on an iPad and an iPhone as well.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.