News (substantiated rumors) doing round on the Blogosphere is that the folks at Amazon are on the verge of testing what is being touted as a “Spotify” for books. We have looked at Spotify before: it is a service that lets you listen to the music of your favourite musician via the internet in exchange for a monthly subscription rather than you having to purchase each and every track that you listen to.
Under this Amazon service which will be known as Kindle Unlimited, readers will have access to over 600 000 book titles in exchange for a payment of $9.99 (10 bucks).
Just like with Spotify service, you can read as many books as you want, but you will not own the copies that you access.This is much along the lines of a community library model that we used to have in this country not that very long ago.
As an avid reader I can understand the value of such a service. On average I read an average of 10-20 books a month. The process of deciding which book to read has become a difficult one ever since the invention of the Gutenburg press and even so now with the advent and popular rise of the internet when every Jack and Jill fancies themselves an author.
Nothing peeves me than spending $10 to buy a book than turns to be rubbish. Few bookstores, online or otherwise, offer discounts in such cases.
As a result I spent hours obsessing over blurbs, fellow customer reviews etc. I spent almost ten times more time on Goodreads than I do on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp (yeah I don’t like chatting that much) combined.
There is the painful indecision that precedes each purchase and more than half the time I end up wasting money. Sometimes I to save money I end up going into town looking for second hand books. These collections tend to limited to the most popular titles that I read decades ago or some second hand steamy romances that lack imagination.
The Kindle Unlimited feature will allow you to read books without having to worry whether they will turn up good or bad. If you are obsessed with books as I am you can also read as much as you want without worrying about petty things like money.
Like all good things the service will be first restricted to the US with the promise to spread to other territories and finally reach Zimbabwe in “never” years.
So not only is the service not yet live, at least it is not yet open to the wider public, it joins all the good and useful services like Hulu (including Hulu+), Netflix, Amazon Instant and Spotify which are available elsewhere but here. I bemoan the “geographical and biological” error that saw me being born here. (Quiz: which author said this?)
I hope a Zimbabwean startup will come with a similar service for local books, it might just be what the dying industry needs to be revived. They would need, however, to navigate the complex copyright minefield that was seemingly made to arrest progress if they to be successful in such a venture.
In the meantime those of us who would like a service that is live and similar to the proposed Amazon you can try Oyster Books which offers a one month free trial.
The service which is more of a Lite Version of the proposed Kindle Unlimited allows you to read and browse a collection of over 100 000 book titles in exchange for a monthly subscription of $9.95/month.
They also have an Android and iPhone app that will allow you to access the service on your mobile device. The apps come with an offline feature which means you can download the content on your WiFi connection and read the desired books on the road without incurring any of those outrageous data charges that our beloved networks like to levy. You can also use the Web Reader on your laptop or Desktop.
Paying for the service requires the use of a US based card and address. In my next installment I will give a guide on how to access the service.
Scribd also offers a similar “library feature” which comes priced at $8.99 per month. They also have an App for both Android and iPhones. They claim to give access to over 400 000 book titles but in my experience most of these “books” are useless PDFs that people upload to the service in a bid to gain download rights to useful content.
The site allows you to read most of the books for free but you need a premium account to download them. You can also get download rights if upload something to the site.A lot of people are the habit of uploading just about any worthless document they can get their hands on so as to get these download rights.
A brief comparison of all the subscription ebook services can be viewed here. Happy reading!
Image Credit: Hacktab