Amazon Unlimited has been in the news for a while now, in fact it isn’t even ‘breaking’ news anymore having fallen off the radar as society moved onto the next new topic to catch our ever-shortening attention spans. I just haven’t talked about it on the blog and was searching for a topic for this week’s post, so voila lets discuss Amazon Unlimited.
Many of my readers and friends know how I feel about Amazon (not a fan) from posts here or over on Facebook. I don’t care for their business practices (monopolies are not good things people) and know that I refuse to review books that are only available through them. I have broken up with authors that suddenly limit their books to Amazon and will only buy anything through them if it is a last resort and I have extinguished all other options. I do post reviews there for authors I review, but will NOT buy a book though Amazon. I want brick and mortar book stores to continue to exist and Amazon is doing its damnedest to wipe them from the planet to be the only show in town. Now, it appears, that they have set their sights on libraries as well.
So rather than just rail against this new service they are offering, I read some articles and even went to Amazon and checked it out. I’m not impresses (did you think I would be…). So they are charging $9.99 + tax to borrow as many books each month from their some 600,000 titles available in the program plus some audio book selections. I did browse through the titles they have to offer and again, not impressed. Sure they have some big names (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, etc.), but I did not see big name new releases from popular authors. The new releases that they do offer seem to be the ones that they have control of the rights to, or from publishing houses too afraid to tell them no.
Did I see books there I would read? Sure, but I could easily get most of them for free through my local library. Now my library isn’t a very big one, but we do have the option of requesting books from other libraries if we don’t have it on-hand. But don’t you have to wait then? What about instant gratification? Then I check to see if another library I belong to offers it in e-format and download it there. If I am so desperate to read a book then it is probably one of the few authors I collect and I’m going to buy it anyways, and not from Amazon…
This program will probably work for some people, good for them. Personally I don’t see the point in paying for a service, that is essentially a library, when my tax dollars already grant me access to all the ‘free’ books I could want to read. I’m sure Amazon Unlimited will be wildly popular in the beginning, but if they can’t get the big time publishing houses to offer books through the service they are going to end up with frustrated readers that will cancel their accounts when they can’t get what they want.
Do I think this will hurt libraries? No. Libraries, like amazon (in a way), offer more to our patrons then just books. Libraries are here to stay. So my embargo against Amazon continues. I hope that people wake up and see the company and what it hopes to accomplish for what it really is, before it’s too late. They probably wont though, after all Wal-Mart is still around… Only when there is no other option left will I begin buying books there, I hope that day never comes.