Is Kindle Unlimited Worth Paying $9.99 per Month?

Kindle unlimited

Amazon’s ebook subscription services, Kindle Unlimited, costs $9.99 per month to get access to a library of all-you-can-read ebooks. The service also provides access to audiobooks at no extra cost, and you can listen to as many of them as you want each month as well.

However, the Big 5 publishers have shown no interest in participating in Kindle Unlimited, even though they offer some ebooks and audiobooks to other subscription services such as Scribd.

Still, there isn’t a shortage of titles. The number of ebooks available through Kindle Unlimited has more than doubled since it first launched in July 2014, with the current selection including more than 1.2 million ebooks.

You just won’t find many of the most popular and best-selling books and authors in the Kindle Unlimited library. So is spending $9.99 a month to subscribe really worth it?

It depends entirely on the number of books you read each month, and the type of books you read.

It also depends on how much you value “owning” an audiobook or ebook versus losing access to the books/audiobooks once you cancel Kindle Unlimited.

If you only read one or two ebooks a month, or listen to one or maybe two audiobooks, then you’re probably better off just buying them instead of subscribing to Kindle Unlimited.

Since big publishers aren’t involved, the prices of ebooks available through Kindle Unlimited are on the lower end of the scale, usually $1-5, so you could easily buy 2 or 3 each month and still spend the same or less than subscribing to Kindle Unlimited.

There’s no question that audiobooks add a lot of value to the $9.99 per month plan if you like listening to them. One audiobook can sell for the subscription rate alone or more.

However, Amazon sells audiobooks at a considerable discount if you buy the ebook first. You can often get audiobooks for the same titles available through Kindle Unlimited for $1.99 with the purchase of the ebook, so if you like using Whispersync for Voice to sync Kindle books and Audible audiobooks it’s a pretty affordable option.

The number of audiobooks currently available in Kindle Unlimted is unclear. Amazon’s dedicated landing page for Books with Narration in Kindle Unlimited only lists 2,924 audio titles, but the main Kindle Unlimited pages lists over 10,000 Whispersync for Voice audio titles available in KU, which makes more sense than the first number.

Amazon never releases any kind of sales figures, but Kindle Unlimited seems to be doing pretty well even without big publishers. They’ve more than doubled the catalog in less than two years, and they’ve expanded the service internationally to the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico and Canada. Only a few countries have access to audiobooks, however.

So what do you think? Is spending $9.99 per month to get ebooks and audiobooks through Kindle Unlimited really worth it?

Kindle Unlimited

11 Responses to “Is Kindle Unlimited Worth Paying $9.99 per Month?”

  1. I thought Unlimited wasn’t for me. I own thousands of Ebooks (Kindle, Nook, Ibooks) and borrow from the library. I’m not interested in audio. That said, a title came up that I wanted to read and the library didn’t own it so i did the free trial and read a lot of books. Then I canceled the trial. But later I found a series I wanted to read. Again, not at the library. It was much less expensive to pay the $9.99 to read the series than to buy the books. When the month ends, I won’t renew unless another stack of books catches my eye.

  2. The lack of BPH titles in general is by design. (“It’s a feature, not a bug!”)

    Amazon isn’t kidding when they advertise Kindle unlimited as a discovery tool; that is truly what KU is intended for. After all, if the authors are well established they make more money selling the ebook. Normally when you encounter an interesting-looking book the question of risk vs reward instantly comes up: what if the book doesn’t live up to the promo? Or, if you download the free sample, what if it tanks later on? With KU, no risk; you move on to another book.
    And if you like the book, you can usually pick up more by the same author and find out if the authir can consistently deliver.

    So the proper question isn’t really whether you can consume enough books to justify the cost but whether you want to sample enough new authors to justify the cost.

    If you’re not interested in finding new favorite authors then KU isn’t for you.

  3. I read 10+ books a month, it’s easy for me to justify the cost of KU. The books offered are hit or miss but when you find a whole series you like available I’ll sign up for a month or two then drop it. Eventually, I have a list of KU books I’m interested in and sign up for another month or two while I read through my list.

    I read somewhere that you have to be an Amazon exclusive Author to get your books into the KU program. (I have no way to verify this statement but it seems to be true of the couple of Authors I’ve checked out.)

    • Indeed. Their strict exclusivity rules are enough to keep a lot of publishers and authors from wanting to join. I wanted to offer my Kindle Tips guide ebook in KU but I couldn’t because too much of it is posted on this site in the form of how to articles.

      • Think about it: from the reader side, KU is about discovery of new (to them) authors–from the author side it is a marketing tool: a place where their titles are move visible and accessible than the Kindle ebookstore because the catalog is (purposefully) smaller and they don’t have to compete for attention with BPH titles. KU is a visibility booster that *pays* authors for the “privilege” of promoting their books. The catch is, of course, exclusivity: from Amazon’s point of view, KU is a way to secure exclusive titles for their ebookstore, ensuring they have the deepest catalog. So again, the downside is baked in on purpose: KU only works as a visibility booster because it excludes a lot of titles. By demanding exclusivity, Amazon lets publishers exclude themselves instead of having to choose which titles to feature and risk legal complications.

        Just consider that, for participating authors, KU is the second largest market ,from the revenue point of view; it pays out more money to authors than Nook, Kobo, or Google take *in*. (And probably Apple, too.) To many of those authors, going exclusive is a net positive.

        KU is a *very* strange beast indeed, serving three masters equally. Something totally new under the sun.

        It is worth watching just to see how it is changing the ebook world.

        • It definitely is an interesting approach, a completely new way for unknown authors to make a name for themselves, not having to go through the traditional publishing route. Amazon also gets to keep control over how they run things. Scribd keeps having to change up how their subscription service works by adding more restrictions in order to make publishers happy, it seems.

  4. Also remember that at the end of the month you plan to cancel, download some titles, turn your Internet off, and read on. It’s a way to keep them for a bit, same with library books. As long as you don’t turn your Internet on, books downloaded to your device remain until you delete them or turn it back on.

  5. It’s worth it to me, at least right now. I got a 1 year subscription in November, and I’m glad I did. Hopefully I can get another discount sub next Nov.

  6. I live in Poland. here there people use kindles to buy books in mobi format from local bookselling webpages in mobi format (with watermark).
    Now there is this company called
    You sign 2 year contract with them, pay about $12 monthly – they give you free ereader (inkbook obsidian) and access to about 1/3rd market of all polish ebooks. No self publishing crap. You can still buy ebooks which are not available ( not all publishers are there) and read them on it. To be fair my paperwhte 3 sits on a shelf and collects dust now. I wish similiar service to everybody 😉

  7. KU was totally worth it for me because I read a genre of books that’s generally not represented at all in libraries. I also read a whole ton so buying books just isn’t feasible for me.

    Sadly, I’ve pretty much gone through their selection of the things I wanted and have cancelled my subscription a few days ago. I’ll probably give it a few months and sub again to read new stuff that’s come out.

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