Amazon Tests Kindle Unlimited, Its Own E-book Subscription Service

The $9.99 monthly service offers access to more than 600,000 books and audiobooks.

Now the go-to place for electronics, groceries, and pretty much everything else, Amazon's e-commerce empire was built atop books. The site hasn't forgotten about its roots—it is reportedly testing an e-book and audiobook subscription service called Kindle Unlimited that costs $9.99 a month.

After community forums noticed web pages for the service, which offers access to more than 600,000 e-books and thousands of audiobooks, Amazon pulled the test pages (cached). Some writers said their titles were automatically included as part of Kindle Unlimited, which is available across platforms.

Moving to an e-book subscription service seems to be a natural extension of Amazon's Prime-stye service. FreeTime Unlimited, for example, is a subscription service available on its Kindle Fire tablets, giving kids a wide range of age-appropriate content to read and watch for $2.99 a month.

Kindle Unlimited will put Amazon in direct competition with Oyster and Scribd, which also offer an all-you-can-eat model for digital books. But that doesn't mean they're nervous—outrightly at least. In a statement, Scribd CEO Trip Adler welcomed Amazon into the fold, calling it "validation that we've built something great here at Scribd."

However, Gigaom noted it doesn't look like the big five publishers—Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and of course Hachette, which is embroiled in a pricing battle with Amazon—are partaking. It appears many of the titles come from Amazon's publishing arm and/or were already available through its Kindle Owners Lending Library.

[Image: Flickr user Samantha Marx]

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  • Hopefully an announcement will be forthcoming about how much revenue Amazon is passing onto the authors. For reference, Scribd and Oyster both pass on about 50-60% of a book's list price once a certain amount of the book is read (between 10-30%).