Amazon Announces Kindle Unlimited Subscriptions For eBooks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN) has announced a new subscription service known as Kindle Unlimited, which allows subscribers to "freely read as much as they want" from the more than 600,000 titles in Kindle's library for $9.99 each month.

The new service, which is not being included in Amazon's $99 a year Prime subscription, is the equivalent of Netflix (NFLX) (or Amazon's video service) for movies, TV shows and videos or Spotify for music files. In addition to unlimited access to books Amazon will offer subscribers a number of exclusive reads (it claims hundreds of thousands of books that are only available on Kindle) as well as what they call "short reads" (100 pages or less).

Amazon shares were gaining 0.68% to $354.84 in early trading in New York.

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Out of the box, Kindle Unlimited competes with other ebook lending libraries from Scribd ($8.99/month offering 400,000 titles), Oyster ($9.99/month, 500,000 titles) and Entitled ($9.99, 400,000 titles).

Unlimited users have the option to switch between reading and listening to books by using Amazon's "Whispersync for Voice" feature. Subscribers will also be able to listen to professionally narrated audio books but with a catch - users will have to have a subscription to Audible's audio service to get access to the company's library of more than 2,000 audio titles. Signing-up for Unlimited status gets subscribers a free three-month trial subscription to Audible.

Amazon's Senior Vice President for Kindle, Russ Grandinetti says the news service will be a boon to ebook readers. "With Kindle Unlimited, you won't have to think twice before you try a new author or genre-you can just start reading and listening," Grandinetti said in a press release.

The new service can be used on any of Amazon's Kindle devices and it also works with the free Kindle reading applications for iPhones, iPads, Android tablets and phones, Windows Phones, BlackBerry devices, PCs, Macs and Windows 8 computers.

The new Kindle Unlimited service is available starting today and Amazon is offering free 30-day trials.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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