Media

Hands-on with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited: expect all the frustrations and joys of Netflix

Today, Amazon launched a $10 all-you-can read buffet, which boasts over 600,000 books and audio files. We took the Kindle Unlimited bookshop for a quick spin to see if its worth your hard-earned dollars.

In short: Kindle Unlimited will elicit just about everything you feel about Netflix. It’s got virtually none of the hot new titles. Hillary Clinton’s political autobiography is nowhere to be found. The Steve Jobs biography is likewise MIA.

However, like Netflix, it does have one big blockbuster title. Amazon just doesn’t have the negotiating power to bring on more. Kindle Unlimited currently carries only 1 of the top 10 Amazon Best Sellers. As the current best-selling title, My Mother Was Nuts is the fillet mignon of the Amazon Unlimited buffet, there are few other top titles to round out the meal after you’re done.

But, that still may be enough for reading enthusiasts to take note. Amazon did manage to snag Bill Gates’ all-time favorite business book, Business Adventures, which has rocketed up the best-selling ladder thanks to the billionaire endorsement. And, at a $10 price tag, it’s worth the entire subscription service.

This is exactly why I pay for Netflix. I come for House of Cards and The Avengers, and end up staying for other classics or “B” action flicks that I watch in my downtime. Case in point: Amazon Kindle has The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter series.

The most disappointing aspect of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited store is its lack of use for researchers. There are chapters in a few titles that I want to browse for general knowledge, such as Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus and Erik Brynjolfsson’s The New Machine Age. Unfortunately, titles like these are nowhere to be found.

So, Amazon Kindle is no replacement for Google Books or your local library. Hopefully, as the program proves successful, it will give Amazon some bargaining power with publishers for better selection.