When you subscribe to Amazon Prime you get access to a number of benefits that allow you to read ebooks for free or loan them out to friends if you live in the United States. Every day online blogs and news media make reference to Prime Reading or the Kindle lending library. What do all of these programs do and how do they work?
When you subscribe to an Amazon Prime subscription you get access to an entire fleet of ebook programs that many people are not aware of. Prime Reading, Amazon First Reads, Kindle Lending Library and a six month trial to the Washington Post. There is also Audible Channels, which is not specifically book related, but does feature in-house podcasts and original audio series with an ensemble cast.
Prime Reading is a relatively new service that gives unlimited access to a selection of top-selling Kindle ebooks, audiobooks, popular magazines, comic books, children’s books, and short reads. There are 1,000 items currently available and you can borrow up to 8 titles at a time before you have to send them back. Sending them back is accomplished by a new feature round on the Kindle app for Android and iOS, but can also be done via an internet browser.
Here is how you can view the Prime Reading material and send it to your Kindle. You need to visit the main Kindle Store and then select Prime Reading Eligible. It lists a bunch of genre based categories with carousels that show new and notable stuff and you can further refine your search by clicking on things like comics or magazines.
Prime Readings ebook selection is not too bad. There is a bunch of Kindle Singles titles and Amazon Original Stories. This is thanks to the effort of Julia Sommerfeld who is the editorial director of these two programs. Aside from that there are tons of full length novels from authors who have a major publisher behind them.
Amazon First Reads – Every month, Amazon Prime members can download one upcoming book from one of Amazon’s imprints for free. Everyone else can purchase one book for $1.99. The books are chosen by Amazon’s editors. Prime members can also sign up to receive a monthly email announcing new Amazon First Reads picks, so they can remember to borrow a new one.
Kindle Owners Lending Library – With Amazon Prime, Kindle owners can choose from more than 800,000 books to borrow for free with no due dates, including current and former best sellers and all 7 Harry Potter books. The program is primarily designed for the e-ink Kindle e-readers and Fire Tablets but not the Kindle app for Android or IOS.
This platform allows users to borrow one ebook a month with no due dates. There are 1.4 million ebooks to choose from, but there are none from any of the big five publishers such as Random House or Simon & Schuster. The vast majority of the books available are from indie authors who self-publish on Amazon and opt their books into the Lending Library. There are only 40,000 books available from outside of Amazon, such as minor publishers or deals Amazon worked out directly for specific titles.
Washington Post – The Washington Post has a metered paywall, meaning that after you’ve read a few articles online, they ask you to subscribe. If you’re sick and tired of hitting the paywall, Prime members can get a free six months subscription. But you have to activate it. Once you are close to your renewal date you will receive an email telling you that your card will be charged and to login to confirm if you still want access.
It is important to note that Kindle Unlimited is not apart of Amazon Prime, but it is similar list of titles as the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Unlimited users can download eight titles per month, whereas KOLL only get one. There is also audiobooks available, which is useful if you want to do immersion reading, where you can have the audiobook play on your Kindle and the text is highlighted at the same time.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.