Is the Kindle subscription service good value for money?

24 September 2014

Online giant Amazon has launched a new subscription service for users of its Kindle e-reader.

Kindle Unlimited will give you unlimited access to more than 650,000 titles and 2,000 audiobooks via any Kindle device for £7.99 a month.

The service, which was launched in the United States in July, will launch with a 30-day trial and offer such titles as JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy and last year's Booker-prize-winning The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.

Whether the service will work out as value for money is, of course, dependent on how many books the customer usually buys.

The cost of the subscription service for 12 months (excluding the first month free) works out at £95.88. If you were to download The Luminaries via the Waterstones website it would cost you £6.99 and the paperback version sells for £7.49 and the hardback £15.19.

Looking at the prices based on the example of The Luminaries, buying one e-book a month for a year would cost £83.88, so for just £12 a year more the customer gets access to a much bigger range of books and audiobooks.

For hardbacks, the annual bill would be £182.28 for one book a month – a difference of £86 on what you would pay for the Kindle subscription service.

However, according to the Terms and Conditions on, if you do cancel your subscription then all your titles will be removed from your devices.



Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president of Kindle EU, said: "With unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of titles, Kindle Unlimited offers by far the simplest and most cost-effective way to explore and discover eBooks and audiobooks together, and you can even switch from reading to listening without losing your place.

"Our US customers have shown us how much they love the opportunity to discover new authors and genres, and now we're delighted to offer the same freedom to our customers in the UK."

Subscription services have become popular in recent years, with services such as Netflix and Spotify providing customers with access to a wide range of television shows, films and music for a monthly fee.

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, told Moneywise: "Any new way of discovering books is going to be a good thing and the subscription model for books is not yet established.

"The downside to it is that Amazon is the most dominant player in the e-book market, and no good comes of one business being so dominant. The e-book market accounts for 30% of total book sales in the UK – worth around £300 million a year and Amazon has around 80% of that.

"It is very early days still for a subscription service in the book market. I expect the price will flutter around a little until the expectations of consumers and the business are met."

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