It seems every time someone says they want a “Netflix for books” everyone laughs and says “you mean the library?” Which, is true, but not really a helpful response. But now Kindle has released Kindle Unlimited, and I can’t help but think “you mean the library?” Because most metropolitan libraries already have ebooks. And at least in the state of Indiana, you can pay $50 a year to access every library in the state if your library doesn’t have this feature. (A year of Kindle Unlimited will set you back $120.)
Don’t get me wrong, I think Kindle Unlimited is a cool service. But it has two major flaws. One, is that despite their claims, it doesn’t work on every device. It won’t work on non-kindle e-readers for example. (Amazon has their own DRM separate from the standard Adobe most e-readers use). On the flip side, you can get library books on every device. If it can read a PDF or EPub file you’re golden.
The other major flaw, and one that will affect way more people, is that the selection is limited. Very limited. I started searching for books on my reading list, and was struggling to find ones available on Kindle Unlimited. Several big publishers are saying “no” to the service. Depending on what you want to read, you still may have to buy a copy. On the other hand, most of the books I want to read are available at my library. The ones that aren’t, I can still get in the dead tree version. And if I’m still stuck, most libraries will work with you to get an interlibrary loan. Sure there are a few exceptions, and I have to wait on occasion, but I can get basically any book I want through my local library.
Before you try out Kindle Unlimited, I highly recommend you check out what your public library has to offer. Not only have you already paid for this service through tax revenue, they also provide services to the community. And by frequenting your library, you help them make the case for more funding. It’s really a win-win for everyone. (And if you still want to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, help a blogger out and use this link will you?)