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Amazon Unlimited Proves to Be Well, Quite Limited

The e-book giant has a lot of work to do

Anne Parsons
Amazon Unlimited Proves to Be Well, Quite Limited

Amazon Unlimited has been heralded as the "Netflix of Books". It seems that their new $9.99 all-you-can-read service is here to pioneer a new course in e-book commerce. But it isn’t. Because I remember when Oyster Books launched, all of ten months ago, it was called, wait for it, the “Netflix of Books”. At $9.95 per month, you also have access to an all-you-can-read e-book service. And at that, a beautifully curated one.

excluding Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster

That aside, the real problem with Amazon Unlimited is that while it boasts over 600,000 titles, it hasn’t made a deal with the “top 5” publishing houses - Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster. Which means that the books that the type of titles available will be mainly from independent publishers. While that can be mean some great books, such as the Harry Potter series, published by J.K. Rowling’s own Pottermore Limited, and Tolkien's The Hobbit, the rest of the stock is bound to be an assortment of vaguely popular titles, and books whose copyright has ran out.  

On the other hand, smaller ventures like Oyster and Scribd have benefitted from deals with larger publishers. With such huge new competition, let’s hope these thoughtful start-ups survive.

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