#1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited

#1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited

It doesn’t surprise me that there have been a lot of…I was going to say “cynical”, but let’s go with “dismissive” comments about the selection of books available through Amazon’s subser (subscription service):

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I think people tend to test it in the same way they tested the Kindle store in the early years.

They look for books they already love, and see if they would be available.

Well, there is something to be said for discovery. 🙂

After all, you didn’t love those books you love before you read them, right?

You may have particular authors you like, or want to read the next book in a series…I completely understand that.

That’s why it’s important to realize that, if you do pay the $9.99 a month for Kindle Unlimited, you can still buy other books if you want. I know there will be a desire to have it eliminate all of your other book spending, and that’s certainly possible. However, if you have KU and you spend $9.99 on one other book, that’s still less than $20 that month for books.

I have to say, what I’m finding is that I’m reading much more expensive books than I would have otherwise through KU.

I read quite a few public domain classics, which are free, and I often find books that are on sale or are inexpensive. The big difference for me with KU is that I’m reading books which cost $9.99 or thereabouts, which I would not have read otherwise.

That’s a bit of a mental shift. You may have stopped looking at well-known older books, since they can be quite expensive (much more expensive as an e-book than they were in mass market paperback years ago). I don’t find that unreasonable, by the way. I’ve never quite understood why some people think an older book should automatically be cheaper than a new one…when the value you derive from reading it is the same it was when it was initially released.

I’m amazed at books which I stumble across in KU. Sure, there are a lot of indies (independently published books) which are unknown to me, but there are also some which were bestsellers.

What I thought I’d do in this post (and which I may do again in the future) is list ten New York Times fiction bestsellers which are available through KU.

To make it harder, I went only with ones which had been a #1 bestseller.

I started at the excellent site

Hawes Publications site

which has lists of NYT bestsellers.

The page to which I linked above is specifically #1 NYT fiction bestsellers.

Then, I just started going through them to see which ones were available through KU.

I started chronologically at the beginning (which is how they are listed).

The Robe (at Amazon Smile*)
by Lloyd C. Douglas
November 22, 1942
4.6 out of 5 stars, 203 customer reviews
$9.39 at time of writing without KU
Whispersync for Voice (WSV) ready

This is a faith-based novel set in Roman times. It was on the NYT list for something like a year, and was later made into a movie with Richard Burton.

Forever Amber (at AmazonSmile*)
by Kathleen Winsor
November 14, 1944
4.4 stars, 370 reviews
$10.99 without KU
historical romance

Otto Preminger directed LInda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, and George Sanders in the movie.

So Well Remembered (at AmazonSmile*)
by James Hilton
September 23, 1945
5.0 stars, 2 reviews
$13.99 without KU

The Kindle edition may seem expensive, but it’s actually a bundle with three complete Hilton novels (So Well Remembered, Random Harvest, and We Are Not Alone). Hilton is arguably best known for Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Trevor Howard was in the adaptation of So Well Remembered.

Gentleman’s Agreement (at AmazonSmile*)
by Laura Z. Hobson
April 27, 1947
4.2 stars, 23 reviews
$7.69 without KU

Huge bestseller which tackled the issue of anti-Semitism, and became a Gregory Peck starring Best Picture Oscar winner.

House Divided (at AmazonSmile*)
by Ben Ames Williams
November 9, 1947
4.7 stars, 37 reviews
$9.99 without KU

Historical novel set during the American Civil War.

Raintree County (at AmazonSmile*)
by Ross Lockridge
April 25, 1948
4.6 stars, 45 reviews
$9.99 without KU

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor starred in the movie adaptation of this novel set in 19th Century America.

The Young Lions (at AmazonSmile*)
by Irwin Shaw
November 7, 1948
4.5 stars, 172 reviews
$9.99 without KU

A World War II novel…published three short years after the war ended. Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin starred in a 1958 adaptation.

From Here to Eternity (at AmazonSmile*)
by James Jones
March 25, 1951
4.2 stars, 151 reviews
$9.99 without KU

The World War II novel became one of the most-Oscar awarded movies, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), and Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed).

Exodus (at Amazon Smile*)
by Leon Uris
May 17, 1959
4.5 stars, 445 reviews
$6.83 without KU

This one is about the founding of Israel, and became one of the bestselling novels up to that time in the USA. Paul Newman starred in the movie.

The Group (at AmazonSmile*)
by Mary McCarthy
October 6, 1963
3.3 stars, 263 reviews
$9.99 without KU

Almost two years on the NYT list, this novel was seen as a cultural touchstone. Sidney Lumet directed Candice Bergen and Joan Hackett, among several others. The controversial subject matter may have hurt the movie at the Oscars (no noms),but there was recognition from BAFTA (the UK) and the Golden Bear (Germany).

There you are! While you might not buy these books at these prices, you certainly might want to read some of them at no additional cost through your KU membership.

If you are a fast reader, you might get through all of them during your free month. 😉

If you aren’t a KU member, you can still buy them, of course.

I may add another set of these…and I think I would include some non-fiction. Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.


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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


10 Responses to “#1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited”

  1. Amy Says:

    Would you be willing to do the same thing but starting with the most recent fiction bestsellers instead of the oldest? I’m not surprised that such old books are available. But that also means we may have already read a lot of these. I suspect you wouldn’t find so many if you started with recent times instead, but I’d be very interested to know,

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Amy!

      Well, I will say that the majority of the older number ones weren’t available…so it is arguably a surprise that the ones that are available were there. It depends more on the publisher.

      I can say offhand that What If? was available through KU when it was the number 1 bestselling New York Times hardback equivalent for non-fiction. I just checked: it’s number three right now.

      I just took a quick look at the ten most recent #1s for fiction hardback equivalents for the NYT bestsellers, and none of them were available for KU. This search for

      NYT Bestsellers in KU

      got me nine results…none of them fiction.

      Current NYT bestsellers aren’t quite the “discovery” I was considering when I wrote the post, I’d say. 🙂 Generally, if you want those, you’ll need to pay by the piece for them most of the time.

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    “Forever Amber”, which I read when I was a teen visiting my aunt (a teacher and avid reader) one summer, was the book that really hooked me on reading good books for the rest of my life. Historical fiction has always been at the top of my list. I still remember it vividly although I’m now in my seventies. May be time to read it again in view of the current Ebola problem.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      Cool! Now, people can read it as part of the KU subscription at no additional cost! You could recommend it to a lot of people…a new way of sharing. 🙂

      I really appreciate you telling me…makes me happy that I did this particular post.

  3. Amy Says:

    I’m really not looking for the current best sellers. I’d love to discover new ones. I think I was just responding to the fact that I had read so many of the ones you listed. But I appreciate Harold’s reminder that books read long ago are worth rereading.

  4. wefashionforward Says:

    Pretty awesome!

  5. Anne Says:

    I really don’t want to pay for KU. And it is a bit obvi that of course we can always buy any books not there. I was browsing and found a few things that I’d like to read but nothing that got me excited particularly, nothing to tempt the sign-up. I’m sure digging would uncover more stuff. Sure I will read anything out of desperation if I have nothing else. But I did pick-up Moneyball in hardcover, a loaner from a friend after noticing it on KU. It’s starting off excellently. Also I just saw one of my favorite Phillip K. Dick books, Ubik, is on KU. Dick writes weird and wonderful short books and stories and many movies are based on his ideas: Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly. and Total Recall. I would love to read Ubik again.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Anne!

      Certainly, signing up for KU isn’t for everybody. For many people, it will be a supplement to other book buying they do. For others, it will become the monthly money they spend on books…just depends.

      The first month is free, so you could always try it, re-read Ubik, and cancel if you wanted. 🙂 In fact, you could read many books by PKD that way, including A Scanner Darkly and Total Recall.

      As for it being obvious…well, I think it’s how many people might feel without examining it logically. I know my tendency would be to say, “I’m paying $9.99 a month, so I should maximize that money spent before spending more money.” However, paying $20 a month for books was not unusual for me (although there were certainly times when I had to be a lot more conservative than that), so if I’m getting a better value of the books I’m reading for that subscription, plus I spend $9.99 on other books, I’m coming out ahead.

      I’m a trainer, and I know that many people do things without “mindfulness”…conscious awareness of why they do them. That’s a type of book I love to read: one that looks at why people do (and think) the things they do. Pointing out the “obvious” doesn’t hurt people, and it is often a revelation…

  6. Tom Semple Says:

    So far I think KU is a good value for me, though I’m not sure it does make sense ‘logically’. I have slowed down on purchasing sub $5 books (a lot of those are in KU and theoretically I can read them, given infinite time), so I don’t think I’m spending more on books overall with KU included, and certainly I am reading no less than before. I have certainly accumulated a large pile of cheap ebooks that I can never hope to read. Subscribing is probably a more reasonable way to go about financing my reading habits, and would be a better value if only I can learn how to not finish reading everything I start reading, in pursuit of better reading.

    But I have a tendency to pick long books, and that is not an optimal reading strategy for extracting ‘$ value’ out of KU (or for reading a numerically large number of books for that matter). ‘Optimal’ (for KU authors as well) would be if everybody read very short books.

  7. I’m spending more money per month with Kindle Unlimited…and it’s a great deal | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] #1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited […]

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