My experience with Kindle Unlimited

This is my take on Kindle Unlimited, not as a writer, but as a reader. I have not tried KU as a writer, and as of right now, my inclination is to avoid it like the plague. I don’t know if my experience with it is typical, but it was very interesting, and not at all what I would have expected.

For those of you who have not tried it, it’s a “service” from Amazon that let’s you “borrow” up to ten eligible books at a time. The reason I use the term “borrow” is because the book is not yours as it would be if you bought it. Once you return it, your notes and highlights go away, so if those are important to you, get them out before you return the book.

This sounded like a bargain to me–$10 per month and I can read an unlimited number of books. Well, no, not really.

Many of the books I wanted to read weren’t available as Kindle Unlimited. So the first thing that changed, was the pattern of my interests, i.e. I was letting my choice be influenced by whether or not a book was available as a KU selection. I’m already spending ten bucks. Why should I spend another five, or seven, or fourteen?

Of the 40+ KU books I borrowed over the course of the two months I paid for (plus the free trial period) I read exactly ZERO books. It wasn’t for lack of trying. It wasn’t solely for lack of time.

I think two phenomena were in play. The first was that I wasn’t particularly excited about any of them to begin with. The second was that I’d start to read them and as soon as something shiny flew by, I was done. After all, I got nine more vying for my attention. Let’s see what’s on the other channel, shall we?

Even when I moved on to another book with the intention to return to the current one, I never seemed to get around to it. Even when it was simply due to, “I want something light and fluffy to relax with, so let’s switch books” I did not come back to it. I was peppered with recommendations for more KU books every time I logged on to Amazon or opened my e-mail. And then as soon as I wanted to “borrow” a new book, I had to pick one to send back, and usually I returned the one that I’d had longest. Most of the time I couldn’t even remember why I picked it, what the story was about, or why I should muster a modicum of interest in finishing it.

I’d much rather spend $10, give or take, on books that I didn’t pick just because they were KU. My favorite authors get my money anyway. I want their stuff to read and re-read. There’s no point in even going with KU. As to discovering new authors, I’ve had better luck with reading sample chapters or going with a recommendation from a friend or even from reading reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. It’s a more active process, and I think a better one.

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