Amazon Unlimited E-Book Program Challenges Oyster

Amazon officially unveiled its new unlimited subscription program for Kindle e-books for $9.99 per month. This is a direct challenge to competitors Oyster and Scribd, which offer similar programs at $9.95 and $8.99 per month, respectively. 

The Kindle Unlimited subscription gives users access to more than 600,000 titles and 2,000 audiobooks. The audiobooks come from Audible, which is also owned by Amazon. Through this program you can easily switch between the audiobook and the text of an e-book through Whispersync for Voice. Among the options for e-books you'll find best-sellers such as the "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings" and "Hunger Games" series. Audio book options include big names such as "Life of Pi," "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Boardwalk Empire." Eligible titles are listed with the tag "Read for Free."

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Currently, Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 per year, get access to one free e-book per month through the Kindle Lending Library. The audiobooks part of Kindle Unlimited is only good as a three-month free trial. After that you'll have to sign up for a normal Audible subscription service to continue to get audiobooks. Through a Gold membership with Audible, users earn a credit (generally good for one audiobook) each month for a fee of $14.95. Prime members also get access to free two-day shipping, as well as free streaming of movies and music. 

None of Amazon's competitors in the all-you-can-eat e-books space offer an audiobook option. However, in other facets Kindle Unlimited is very similar to Oyster and Scribd.

Oyster, which has been called the Netflix of e-books, offers unlimited access to the company's library of 500,000 titles. The app stores the last 10 books you've opened for offline reading, and works on Android, iOS, Nook and Kindle Fire tablets. Everyone gets a free 30-day trial of the service when first signing up. 

Scribd also works across Android, iOS and Kindle Fire tablets, and comes with a 30-day free trial. But the service itself is $1 cheaper per month. The available library of e-books is 400,000 titles strong from more than 900 publishers. Scribd also lets you save up to 20 titles for offline reading. 

A few days ago, Gigaom noted what appeared to be a series of test pages on Amazon indicating such an announcement was imminent. 

Anna Attkisson
Managing Editor
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson heads up features and special projects for, in addition to covering social networking and accessories. She joined the LAPTOP staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.