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Why I won’t subscribe to Kindle Unlimited

Amazon has just launched Kindle Unlimited in the UK. I read a lot of books – but won’t be subscribing. Here’s why.

Man reading book surrounded by falling letters

Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited in the UK a few hours ago. Kindle Unlimited, which has been available in the States since July, allows subscribers to pay a monthly fee (£7.99) to access 650,000 eBooks and an unspecified number of audiobooks without further payment.

I read a lot of books, mainly on a Kindle. I dread to think how much I spend each month on books, but it is most certainly more than £7.99. So, when Kindle Unlimited launched in the US, I was pining for a UK launch. This came up in a conversation over a drink with a non-techy friend: “What, like a library?” she asked, as I described the service.

The question was as barbed as it was sarcastic, and it struck a nerve. Some sliver of my Council Tax already funds the ability for me to borrow from an enormous collection of physical books, eBooks and audiobooks via my local library. It is vaguely absurd to pay a second time to access a more limited library.

So I set myself a challenge: ditch the Kindle and start using the library.

The first barrier was to discover that I don’t own an eReader compatible with the formats available from my library. But this wasn’t really a problem: I chose to read eBooks mainly because they are cheap, available ‘over the air’, and take up no space in my house. Library books are almost as good: they’re free, take up no space in my house, and are available to collect from the library.

My local library, in common with others, has a great click-and-collect service: I request a book online; they dig it out from whichever library branch or store it is in, whack it on a ‘collection’ shelf near the door in the most convenient branch for me, and notify me that it’s ready to collect. I can then pop into the library during my commute and swap books using a self-service machine. It takes less than sixty seconds from entering the library to exiting.

Of course, not all books feature in the library’s stock. Rather than have the library source these from elsewhere, I’ve bought my own copies; the joy of reading physical books from the library has convinced me to buy paperbacks. So much for saving shelf-space.

The last ten books I’ve read would have cost, in total, £66.89 in Kindle format. Only two of them appear to be among the 650,000-book Kindle Unlimited selection. All but two were within my library’s selection: I paid £9.09 for one of these two in paperback, and borrowed the other by post from the BMA library. Hence, I saved £57.80: an 86% discount.

And so (tl;dr): Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited package made me re-evaluate how much I spent on books. It made me realise the value of my local library, and has lead to me using Amazon far less, and saving myself a small fortune in the process.



If you fancy reading this same post in a slightly different format, it's also available on Medium.

This 2,272nd post was filed under: News and Comment, Technology, , , , , .

Photo-a-day 197: The day my Kindle died

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Towards the end of last year, my Kindle cracked. Despite it being well out of warranty (I’d had it since August 2010), Amazon replaced it for free.

Today, the replacement broke – as you can see, the screen has died. Bizarrely, this seems to have happened totally spontaneously while the Kindle was sat on my desk. I don’t understand how that’s possible…!

Sadly, Amazon wouldn’t give me another free replacement this time around – but they are sending me a replacement for £50. As this model retails at £149, that’s still considerably better than most of Amazon’s competitors!

This 1,723rd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Photo-a-day 179: Custom Kindle screensaver

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I’ve had what’s now called the Kindle Keyboard since the day of its UK release – that is, just under two years. I’d never bothered following any of the hundreds of online guides on changing the screensavers until yesterday.

Now I have a pretty collection of all sorts of pictures, including this favourite of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner!

This 1,702nd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Amazon’s great service on Kindles

A couple of weeks ago, my Kindle developed a small hairline crack in its case, just at the corner of the screen. My Kindle was well outside it’s 12-month warranty, but having heard previous stories of excellent service, I called Amazon after work one evening.

I hoped they might offer me a discount off a replacement. What they actually did was courier me a brand new replacement, set up on my account and ready to go, which was in my hands the very next morning. And they didn’t charge me a penny, not even for postage. And, what’s more, they even arranged a courier to pick up the old one. Free.

What utterly brilliant service!

This 1,450th post was filed under: Reviews, , , .

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