Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on July 20th, 2014

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Amazon's "Kindle Unlimited" unleashing new potential for ebooks?

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Ebooks. There is the never-ending debate on which is better ebooks or paper. Really, it is just a matter of personal opinion. For many, they can't imagine not holding a physical book, turning the crisp pages or wearing a crease into the binding of a new favorite. Some of those individuals have never even tried an e-book. Others, simply prefer the feel of a book in hand. Several years ago, I was one of those people. I kept hearing about the Kindle (pre iPads). And I thought, no way, I love turning the pages of a book, feeling the paper in my hand. I always thought I could never read on a digital device. Well, after the constant buzz and doing some research on the vast amount of "Free books" available I decided to give it a try. I thought, ok I will try a few "Free ebooks" and make the decision to keep the Kindle prior to the return date policy. Well, low and behold I was hooked and pretty quickly. I just loved having a bookstore at my fingertips, the ability to define words, highlight passages and so on. It brought a whole new world to my reading.

Fast forward to 2014. Several Kindle models later and iBooks on iPads e-books now account for 30% of all book sales. With the surge of digital devices, that number will only increase. Ebooks have created a niche for "Self-publishing" which accounts for 31% of all ebook sales. Self-publishing allows struggling wannabe authors to get started on their own and have readers discover their work. I for one discovered plenty of new authors when I got my first Kindle. Our business was new and my budget for purchasing books was low. I reread many classics as well as discovered many new authors and genres. I was willing to take the risk on a free book from a new author because if I found it didn't appeal to me, I could move on to something new in seconds without killing my budget.

So now, Amazon has a new subscriber service. The new service it "Kindle Unlimited". For $9.99 a month/$120 a year. It allows subscribers unlimited access to its library of over 600,000 e-books as well as thousands of audiobooks. It is basically Netflix for readers. Amazon is currently offering a free 30-day trial subscription which I plan on signing up for. I know that there are other services out there like Oyster and Scribd who offer similar pricing but with smaller libraries. I am sure Apple iBooks will offer something similar in the near future as well. Services like these really do allow you to carry around a bookstore everywhere you go.

With the continued increase in digital devices and ease of ebook purchasing as well as many libraries, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York libraries allowing digital book borrowing ebooks will continue to thrive. These days there are countless apps available for ebook reading and/or purchasing. With all the sources available for ebooks and the dependence of today's youth on their digital devices it is only a matter of time (I hope) before schools encourage or require books to be read digitally. Currently, our high school sophomore must read the physical book. Her honors English class requires "annotating" of books. Which, can be done digitally but so far is not embraced at our local high school. Most homework is submitted via Google Drive and assignments are assigned via the web portal so I foresee digital e-books coming soon.

What type of reader are you? Are you a classic reader who can't give up your paper book? Are you a hybrid reader who reads both or are you strictly an e-book reader now like me? Where do you see the future of ebooks heading? How about in education? E-textbooks are also on the rise. Will you be trying the free trial of Kindle Unlimited? I will post my review in a few weeks after my free trial. Until then, happy readin, however, your read!