For those of you who aren’t familiar with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, it’s a monthly subscription program that lets you borrow books for free (other than the subscription fee, of course), read them, and return them. Until recently, you could be reading 10 KU books at a time, but that number has now gone up to 20, which is enough for everyone in a household to be reading at least a couple! Subscription prices vary, but Amazon usually has some sort of deal going to let you try KU for a reduced price, or get a few months free if you buy a Kindle device, or even buy a year or more for a discount off the monthly price. I’ll try to keep track of these deals and post in this thread.
Most major publishers/major authors don’t participate in KU, but there are some pleasant surprises. In this “Kindle Unlimited” area of my blog, I’ll also try help you sort through the vast number of “meh” KU books and find some of those gems.
Perhaps the best known titles in KU are JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. With a KU subscription, you can read the original seven books, and also the later “extra” books, like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Quidditch Through the Ages. The books are also available in other languages, so if you want to practice your French or Spanish, you’re all set!
Other books you’ll find in KU are those that are published by any of Amazon’s various in-house brands, like Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Crossing, Montlake, and others. Some of these are really really good. An upcoming title in this category that lots of folks are looking forward to is Ilona Andrews’ new Kinsmen novella, Fated Blades. You can read my review and find links to buy or borrow in this post.
Older books also may show up in KU. These were usually published before e-books existed, and the rights have reverted to the author since the physical books have been out-of-print for a long time. In that case, the author may take on the task of e-publishing the books themselves, or they may work with a publisher who specializes in e-publishing older books, like booksBnimble. For example, all of Julie Smith’s books are in KU, although they also go free/on sale a lot too.
With those aside, though, I have to say that the vast majority of books in KU seem to be self-published books, or published by (much) smaller presses, and the quality varies all over the map for those. Some established authors try out new series, and self-publish them very professionally. Ilona Andrews Blood Heir (review and links here) is an example. Or they may have a series that started out traditionally published, but they’ve decided to continue on their own. Joseph Flynn’s Jim McGill series is great example of that. In these cases, the authors have the know-how and the contacts to get professional editing, book design, cover art, and production done for their books. And other lesser-known authors, some of whom publish in very specific genres, also may also produce great books. For example, a lot of fantasy books seem to be in KU, which is nice if you find a series you like, because you can binge read without worrying about the cost. My most recent favorite in this category is the Stariel series by AJ Lancaster, starting with The Lord of Stariel.
Finally, if you’re worried about the authors, don’t be! The authors get paid via some complicated scheme related to how many pages of their books get read, how much money comes into the program, and some other criteria. But they do get paid.
And one last note: keep in mind that books do move in and out of the KU universe from time-to-time, so if you spot something you really want to read, grab it and read it. But, at least for the authors and books I keep an eye on, there’s not that much movement in and out.