Amazon releases “Kindle Unlimited”: Read as much as you want for $9.99 a month

I got an email today about whether or not I want to have the book I edited, Dearest Girl of Mine, included in “Amazon Unlimited” (I said yes; it was a project I enjoyed thoroughly in another time of my life, but it was never anything more than an academic exercise). I had heard rumors about the new service but didn’t know it was ready to go.

Amazon’s long-rumored e-book subscription service is now a reality: “Kindle Unlimited.”
The company announced the $9.99-per-month service on Friday and said that it would let users “freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books.” A portion of Audible’s audiobook library is also included.

Of course, the 600,000 titles represent only a small slice of all the Kindle books for sale through Amazon’s sprawling online store. This is due in part to disagreements between Amazon and some major publishers.

But the service has a number of hit titles that Amazon is promoting, including “The Hunger Games,” the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and the new Michael Lewis book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.”

via Amazon: Read as much as you want for $9.99 a month – Jul. 18, 2014.

Hmmm. While it sounds interesting, as a Prime member I already get to borrow one book a month, and I rarely do that. Not sure I’d be willing to fork over $10 a month extra for more.

Amazon buys Goodreads, and I feel fine

Amazon, the online retail behemoth that has made a much-publicized foray into publishing, has just bought Goodreads, the social book-recommendation site.

Read more

Apparently I’m supposed to be devastated and angry about this, though I’m not completely clear why — review gaming? Big brother? I hate to disappoint you, but the opposite is true. I use Amazon. (In all honesty, I love Amazon.) I have a Kindle. I use Goodreads. I get to use them all together. Works for me.

Borrowing from the library – digitally

What excites me most about ereading is the ability to borrow ebooks from the public library. After a shaky start, a few recent developments have helped libraries to move forward with digital lending, though not without some roadblocks.

Libraries ramp up e-book lending –

After a tentative foray into digital lending on PCs and e-readers several years ago, public libraries are opening the next chapter for smartphones and tablet computers.

The movement kicked into high gear in September when Amazon finally turned on its Kindle for 11,000 local libraries, triggering a flood of new users. App developers are also working with libraries to enable book lovers to borrow on their smartphones.

“With more devices for consumers to try, they’re going to get better,” says Christopher Platt of the New York Public Library. “And the e-reading experience will get better.”

The evolution is playing out amid some challenges, including an ongoing squabble between eager-to-grow libraries and publishers that fear copyright infringement and losing money on digital distribution, their fastest-growing segment of business.

Some large publishers — such as Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hatchette — refuse to sell to libraries, thus limiting the availability of popular titles.

Still, customers’ appetite for e-book lending is growing unabated. According to Library Journal, public libraries increased their offerings by 185% this year. E-books will account for 8% of their materials budget in five years, it says.

I can’t afford to buy every ebook I’d like to read, nor do I really need to, just like printed books. I’m a frequent library borrower, but that often involves requesting copies from other branches, waiting for them to come in, scurrying to the library when it’s open and I’m not at work, an intersection of events that can sometimes be rare. To borrow an ebook, though, all I need to do is go online, browse, and download in minutes. Magic!

George R. R. Martin joins the “Kindle Million Club”

Amazon announced this week that George R.R. Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, has become the latest author to sell 1 million Kindle e-books. Honestly, I’m hardly surprised. I’m nearing the end of the third book myself (there are five in the series thus far, with more to come), I’ve bought each as an ebook, though I went with the Nook format. These books are long, and therefore, these books are heavy. I’m not hauling that thing on a plane.

Martin has now sold one million Kindle books through Amazon, reports the site. He joins a list that includes Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, John Locke, Janet Evanovich and Kathryn Stockett.

“Groucho Marx once said, ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member,’ but even Groucho might have made an exception for the Kindle Million Club,” Martin says in the Amazon news release. “It’s a real thrill to be inducted into this one. There are no dues, no meetings, and I’ll be in some wonderful and exclusive company.”

Great Holiday Expectations for E-Readers

I’m far from the only person who thinks e-readers are going to be the go-to- gift item this holiday season.

Published: November 14, 2010
Not many book buyers have an e-reader, but publishers and booksellers expect this holiday season to change that.
The big question I have, though, is how much of a price drop can we expect? Most retail analysts consider $99 the “magic number” which will bring an item down to the average American shopper’s general consideration, but most e-readers price at $139 or $179. Will they go any lower, or will the new-found frenzy for e-readers keep the prices where they are? What about supply? In some previous years, e-readers were difficult to get your hands on in time to wrap for under the tree. Lets hope the major players have their ducks in a better row this year.

Is it really a question of free speech? Amazon removes pedophilia guide but defends selling book

A self-published guide giving advice to pedophiles that was on sale through online retailer Amazon stirred up controversy, with some threatening to boycott the website. The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct has now been removed from sale, but Amazon initially defended the listing, saying the company does not promote criminal acts but also avoids censorship. The book has since been removed, but not without first creating a cloud storm of controversy.

Was this really a question of free speech, though? The author of this book had every right to write it, I suppose, though the very idea turns one’s stomach. But does Amazon have a responsibility to carry every piece of published material it is asked to? No, and nor does it — in fact, Amazon has a “no porn” policy for the Kindle store.It’s not as if the company doesn’t already pick and choose what material they are willing to carry for sale. I question, though, where they’re drawing the lines.

Amazon won’t carry pornography, which is perfectly legal. That’s a moralistic decision on their part. Amazon will carry books that tout hate-mongering, such as those written by Holocaust deniers — and Amazon says that’s because they believe in free speech. (But not orgies or role-playing, apparently.) Well, it’s legal to be a hateful idiot as well. Amazon also apparently will carry instructional manuals for pedophilia, which last time I checked, is a crime. Free speech trumps aiding and abetting criminal activity, I gather.

But is it really about free speech, or just about profit? Amazon isn’t a publicly funded institution supported with tax dollars. They do not have a library’s mission to uphold free speech, nor do they have a governing body with the public’s best interest in mind. Amazon is a business, a profit-making business, and their decision to sell the ebook in question was a business decision, nothing more. They don’t apply ethics or morals in any consistent way, nor is their policy especially logical. Hey, it’s their party, and they can sell what they want to — but we have every right (possibly every responsibility) to complain.

And object the Internet did, almost en masse — something you don’t see every day. Amazon initially defended the book’s sale, then removed it, then reinstated it, and then finally removed it again. In the end, they caved to the web’s pressure, but not especially gracefully, and not in a way that is likely to earn them any public good will.

Amazon’s new Kindles — $189 and $139 each

The new Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi, above, will sell for $139 but connect to the Web only by Wi-Fi. A new model to replace the Kindle 2 will sell for $189 and connect to the Internet through a cellphone network.

Amazon is stepping up its game, releasing new models of the already-popular Kindle and dropping the price in a big way. Are they poised to dominate this holiday season, or can Barnes & Noble, or the iPad, or even the Sony Reader, give them a run for their money?, the maker of the Kindle e-reader, is introducing two new smaller, lighter versions with high-contrast screens and crisper text. The new Kindles will ship August 27th.
With Amazon’s latest announcement, it is again waging a price war. Barnes & Noble offers a Wi-Fi version of the Nook for $149 and Sony offers the Reader Pocket Edition, which does not have Wi-Fi, for $150.
I bought an iPad because I wanted a tablet device that was more than just an e-reader. But I’m intrigued by the Kindle. I’ve spent a little time playing around with a Nook, in Barnes & Noble, and to be frank I was very much less than impressed. The jury’s still out on the Kindle for me, and I wonder if this new model is an improvement — the price tag certainly is.