5 Reasons Why Kindle Unlimited Isn’t Worth Your Money
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Amazon Kindle devices are more popular than ever. They provide access to a vast number of books which are available for a fraction of the cost of a physical copy. And they result in far fewer dead trees Books Suck: Why I Love My Kindle More Than Dead Trees Books Suck: Why I Love My Kindle More Than Dead Trees Modern e-readers hold thousands of novels, weigh next to nothing, have built in lights, and don't give you a concussion when they hit your nose. Read More , and that’s a good thing.

Entertainment subscription services are also becoming more popular. People are less concerned with owning their media outright The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Streaming media is convenient, but you're giving up something important: ownership of digital media. Read More and are increasingly numb to the issues surrounding DRM.

Therefore, you’d expect a service like Kindle Unlimited to be awesome. It’s the best of both worlds, right? But Amazon’s promise of over a million ebooks for just $9.99/mo is too good to be true. Here are some reasons why.

1. Kindle Unlimited Has a Poor Selection of Books

Amazon likes to trumpet that Kindle Unlimited has more than one million books available for subscribers to read. And while that figure is accurate, you won’t find many best sellers or popular books on the list.

None of the major publishing houses have made their books available on Kindle Unlimited. That means no Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, or Simon & Schuster. If you have a favorite author, there’s a good chance their work is published by one of these “Big Five”.


Right now, there are more than 1.4 million books available on Kindle Unlimited. Of those, almost 1.3 million books are Amazon Exclusives. This means they’re not available for sale anywhere else; in other words, they’re all self-published. That leaves barely 100,000 non-exclusive books; it’s about 8 percent of the total. A large portion of these are also self-published, but some are likely to be from small publishing houses.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with self-published books, and success stories like Twilight and The Martian show there are some great books to be found, the lack of any books from popular authors is a problem. Most people don’t have the time or the interest to dig through the heap to try and find the next The Martian. You probably want to know that the books you’re reading are well-written, properly edited, and entertaining.

The other side of this is even if you love reading indie titles, you’ve probably got a few major authors whose work you want to read too. For most people, Kindle Unlimited simply can’t replace buying books. If you want to pick up the latest George R.R. Martin or Bill Bryson title, you’ll have to buy them in addition to your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

2. Kindle Unlimited Is Expensive

Although $9.99/mo may sound pretty reasonable for all-you-can-read-ebooks, when you consider the price of the titles available it’s actually quite expensive.

The vast majority of self-published books on Amazon sell for less than $5. Many are less than $3 and some are even less than $1. This means that to make up for the $10 subscription fee, you’re going to need to read quite a few books a month.


If you only read the most expensive titles you can find, reading two books a month will see you saving some money, but you’ll most likely have to read three or four to make a saving. While plenty of readers can get through a book a week without any hassle, the temptation to read non-Unlimited books is going to be high.

Looking at the selection and the prices, it’s hard to see many people being well-served by a Kindle Unlimited subscription. If you like self-published books, you can easily pick up two or three a month for less than Unlimited costs, without the recurring payments. That way you can be far more flexible with how you spend your money.

And don’t forget, there are lots of ways to get Amazon Kindle books for free How to Find Infinite Free Kindle Books to Read How to Find Infinite Free Kindle Books to Read Here are 10 awesome websites that will point you towards infinite free Kindle books. If you are ready to curl up with a new book, bookmark these sites to save yourself some money. Read More , if you know where to look.

3. Kindle Unlimited Requires an Internet Connection

The best thing about the Amazon Kindle is that, unlike your phone, it doesn’t need to be charged every night or constantly connected to the internet to be useful. If you use Kindle Unlimited, you lose some of this flexibility.

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 7th) Kindle Paperwhite E-reader - Black, 6" High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 7th) Buy Now At Amazon

With Kindle Unlimited you can only have 10 books checked out at once. While that sounds like a lot, for many readers, this simply isn’t enough for an extended period away from Wi-Fi.

For example, if you’re on holiday, you might get through a book a day. And if one or two books prove to be boring, or short, or any of a number of other things, then those 10 books won’t stretch to a week.

That means that at some point you will be off hunting for a way to connect my Kindle to the internet (unless you use the Kindle app to read books offline How to Use the Kindle App to Read Articles Offline How to Use the Kindle App to Read Articles Offline One of the lesser-used ways to take advantage of the Kindle app is to use it as a read-it-later service for articles you want to catch up on later. Read More ).

4. Amazon Prime Is a Better Deal

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you already have access to Kindle Unlimited’s library for free. You can only take out one book a month, but if there are a few titles you want to check out without paying for them, it’s a decent way to do it.

Amazon Prime has lots of benefits 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You May Have Overlooked 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You May Have Overlooked Free two-day shipping is just the beginning. Here are some notable Amazon Prime benefits you may have forgotten about or never realize existed. Read More , and it’s worth signing up for even without the free ebooks on offer.

Unless you’re ripping through self-published Kindle Exclusives, an Amazon Prime subscription costs less and offers countless other benefits like free shipping, great Amazon Prime TV shows 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money Netflix is undoubtedly the king of the movie and TV show streaming services. However, Amazon Prime has some fantastic television shows that make it worth the asking price. Read More , and the underrated Amazon Prime Music streaming service Why You Should Give Amazon Prime Music a Second Chance Why You Should Give Amazon Prime Music a Second Chance There are several reasons why you might want to give Amazon Prime Music a second chance. It certainly deserves much more credit than it's currently getting. Read on to find out why. Read More .

5. Other Ebook Services Are Better


While Oyster was acquired by Google Oyster's Dead: What's the New Netflix for eBooks? Oyster's Dead: What's the New Netflix for eBooks? The popular eBook subscription service Oyster just shut down, so where are you supposed to get your ebooks? Read More , Scribd is still around and for $8.99/mo you can read three books and listen to one audiobook. You’ll actually find books from bestselling authors like Stephen King or Walter Isaacson available for you to download.

You can’t use your Kindle to read books you take out on Scribd—you need to use a web browser or an iOS or Android device—but that seems to be a reasonable trade-off for access to a far better library. If you want to sign up for an ebook subscription service that’s actually good The 6 Best Ebook Subscription Services for Unlimited Reading The 6 Best Ebook Subscription Services for Unlimited Reading Ebook subscription sites allow for unlimited reading for a flat monthly fee, similar to Netflix and Spotify. Should you subscribe? Which site is best? Read More , Scribd might be a better option than Kindle Unlimited.

Wait for the “Big Five”

Kindles are amazing and ebooks are the future. But even though Kindle Unlimited is a great idea, it’s always going to lack the books most people want to read until the “Big Five” publishers come on board.

But hey, if you still want to give it a try now, you can always sign up for a 30-day Kindle Unlimited free trial to see if you like it or not.

If you were thinking about buying a Kindle Unlimited subscription as a gift for bookworms in your life, don’t. We have compiled a much better selection of gifts for Amazon Kindle owners 8 Great Gift Ideas for Kindle Owners Everywhere 8 Great Gift Ideas for Kindle Owners Everywhere Everyone knows someone who owns a Kindle. And if you're looking to buy them a gift this Christmas, we have a selection of great gift ideas for Kindle owners! Read More .

Explore more about: Amazon Kindle, Audiobooks, Ebooks, Kindle Unlimited.

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  1. Adam
    October 24, 2018 at 1:26 am

    #3 here is inaccurate. You can always go to "Your Content and Devices" on a computer (under "Hello, YourName." About halfway down).
    Then find the book you want and click on the button with three dots and select "Transfer & Download via USB."
    It will download the file to your computer. Then when you connect your Kindle with a USB cord, you just drag and drop it into your documents.
    So long as you keep the Kindle in Airplane mode (i.e. not connected to the Internet via WiFi) the books will stay on your Kindle basically in perpetuity.
    You can even do this multiple times and return a book after transferring to bypass the 10-book limit.

  2. W.L. Hunter
    September 18, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    I would like advice on how to cancel Kindle Unlimited. I have never used it and have been trying to cancel for many months now.
    The email address given is not a valid one.
    Please help if you can.

    Kind Regards
    Wilma Hunter

  3. Linda Newbern
    August 30, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    I have been a reader for 65 years. Upon retiring two years ago at age 68, I find that I read 3x as much. Since living on SS prohibits me from purchasing a lot of books (Unfortunately a roof over my head and food are important), I find Kindle Unlimited a great source of books. Granted, none of the authors from big publishing houses are represented, but guess what..........I have a library card and know how to use it. If I see a new release that I have to read, I go to the library and check it out. Just because I have several Kindles and an iPad doesn’t mean I am forbidden to read print books. Your article may be fine for people with financial resources, but it does nothing to help the elderly on SS, the avid reader who works for low pay, or the young housewife with children who require her book money.

  4. Stephen
    August 6, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I'm currently on book 9 of 13 in a series I started 10 days ago. $5 each. Pretty sure "getting your money's worth" is going to be up to the person and their preferred genre.

    If you read one book a month, it's not worth it. If you can binge up to 1 book a day at times, it's more than worth it.

    KU is for people who, like my wife says of me, eat books.

  5. Liz
    July 30, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    This article was probably written by a snob that thinks people should only read mass media known authors.
    KU has many flaws but none of the reasons in this article are actually valid.
    Maybe the writer should do more research on indie authors and how successful the service is not only in the US but in other countries.

  6. Liz
    July 30, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    This article was clearly written by a snob who thinks that people are only interested in mass media know authors or should only read those. KU has many flaws but none of the reasons listed here are actually valid. Maybe the writer should do a bit of research on indie authors.

  7. Beth I-L
    July 30, 2018 at 1:44 am

    This is not only uninformed, it’s insulting. First, there are lots and lots of people who read three or more books a week, never mind a month. Secondly, WiFi is available virtually everywhere anyone would go on holiday so that argument is ridiculous. Third, you say other services are better and then only mention one and point out it’s drawbacks. Lastly, the assumption that most people want to only read books from “ The Big Five” is ignorant and condescending. There are lots of authors, particularly in underserved genres, who have huge followings and make lots of money via their books being self-published and available on KU. And KU is a good place for these authors to gain readers who may be unable or unwilling to plop down the $3.99 or so that you cavalierly dismiss. I read over 400 books in 2017 and I never could have done that without KU. I still purchase mass market books from the publishing houses you mentioned but $9.99 a month for unlimited books vs $14.99 for one new release “mainstream” book?! No contest!

    • Kim
      July 30, 2018 at 9:35 am

      Every last word of this. I laughed reading this completely ridiculous article. 10 bucks a month saves me a fortune given the number of books I read in a week, never mind in a month. My only beef with KU is that I wish I could hold more than 10 titles at a time.

    • Amelia
      October 6, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Gosh, I wish there was a way for me to like your reply! This review of KU is way too subjective.
      I read 5~10 books a week from some underserved genre. Even if they are $0.99 each, KU is still a better deal for me. I don't even care about the Big Five...

  8. HoraceSciep
    July 27, 2018 at 3:50 pm


  9. Amy
    July 16, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    It's kinda funmy mentioning that to make the money worth it you would need to read 'quite a few books per month' as if you really are a bookworm like me I can easily read a kindle unlimited book per day if not more. I got into a series of 14 books they were so good I read them within a week. It is worth it if you want a variety of new and unknown plus it really helps new authors turn into these big names. It's a bit unfair to judge kindle unlimited based on the fact it doesnt have 'big well known authors' as their are so many great new writers out there who are also trying to gain a reputation and people like you are putting others off reading their stuff because their not a well known name? Must say this article has really p***ed me off!

    • Amber
      July 16, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      I agree completely! I read 10+ books per week, so KU is completely worth it for me. It is especially great for the Romance Genre, from Sci Fi to Historical, and has allowed me to find so many new authors. I am more apt to read new authors now that I know I don't have to shell out $3.99 every time I would like to read.

      I still read a ton from BN.com on the Nook app, but KU is a wonderful option if you are a prolific reader. Also, Prime Day and Black Friday always have significant savings if you buy KU for the year!

  10. Adam W
    July 16, 2018 at 6:18 am

    As stated the large selection of books are unknown authors. Looking through the scientific fiction area I was struck by the art work on covers. They are either directly ripped off from romance novels i.e. guys with no shirt with six pack abs or from porno mags with sultry fems in suggestive poses.
    That tells you all you need to know.
    A definition of unlimited is access to all available but not with kindle unlimited
    It's a total rip off.

    • Kim
      July 31, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Whatever happened to "don't judge a book by its cover"? Some brilliant indie writers can't afford high-buck cover designers. That doesn't necessarily indicate that what's under it is subpar.