Amazon officially unveiled an all-you-can-read subscription service on Friday that gives you access to more e-books than you could ever finish.
That's right, never have more books been available to you -- unless you have a public library card.
The service, "Kindle Unlimited," is essentially an e-book version of your free neighborhood library, except it costs money. For $9.99 a month, or about $120 a year, you can read more than 600,000 e-books and 2,000 audiobooks. (It also comes with a three-month Audible membership, giving you access to another 150,000 audiobooks.) In its press release, Amazon highlighted available selections like those of the "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings" and "Hunger Games" series.
The argument for Amazon's service and against buying a freaking library card is that going to the library requires putting pants on and... going to the library. But library systems from New York to Los Angeles actually do lend e-books for free over the Internet, meaning you can download them in your home with your pants off.
Still, plenty of people will choose Amazon over their government-run library system because they will expect Kindle Unlimited to be faster and more convenient to use, since speed and convenience are two things Amazon's proven to be good at. Also, Amazon knows Americans love Amazon and like to buy things from it.
Similar services already exist for slightly less money, like Oyster Books ($9.95 per month) and Scribd ($8.99 per month). But both of those services have smaller book selections than Kindle Unlimited (500,000 and 400,000 titles, respectively).
Offering e-books on the cheap should do nothing to ease tensions between Amazon and book publisher Hachette. Though no one's exactly sure what the dispute between the two is about, there are reports it's over e-book prices. The only way Amazon can sell cheap e-book subscriptions is if it's able to secure cheap e-book rights, so an e-book squabble would make some sense.