Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition
Q. I’ve been hearing a lot about Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): what is it?
A. It’s a new benefit for people who have Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lets Prime members read books from a special selection of books at no additional cost.
Q. No additional cost to what?
A. To their Prime memberships. Prime members typically pay $99 a year for a number of benefits, including free two-day shipping on many items, a vast music library, and videos.
Q. How do I know if I’m a Prime member?
A. You can check by going to “Your Account” at the top of any Amazon page and choosing “Your Prime Membership”.
Q. So, if I’m a Prime member, I can now read books free?
A. Some books, yes. When it was introduced there were 1,014 titles in Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile*) and that’s still the case now.
Q. What kind of books are they? Will I have heard of them?
A. Some of them for sure, if you already are a reader…and some you’ve probably heard of even if you don’t follow books that much. That includes the first Harry Potter book, for example, and The Man in the High Castle.
Q. Like the TV show?
A. Right, yes…the TV show is based on that book. There are also a lot of books you probably haven’t heard of before. There are also some graphic novels and comic strip collections.
Q. And it doesn’t cost me anything to read them?
A. Not if you are a Prime member.
Q. Do I get to keep them? Can I give them as gifts?
A. No, this is just the ability to read them. Think of it like Netflix for books. People have been using that term for a while for different things, but this is really quite a bit like that. You have a certain selection of media, you can enjoy them, but you don’t own them and you can’t give them away.
Q. Okay, I get that.
A. Another thing that is like Netflix is that this is a rotating selection. There will be different books, probably every month, which is the way Netflix does it. I expect we’ll see stories about which books are coming into Prime Reading and going out of it, just like we do with Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.
Q. I don’t read a book very quickly. What happens if I’m not done with it and they take it out of Prime Reading?
A. You can still finish it. You can hang on to a book as long as you are a Prime member. If you stop being a Prime member, you lose access.
Q. How many books can I have? Can my family members read them?
A. There is no limit to the number of books you can borrow, although you can only have ten at a time. If you return one of those ten, though, you can get another one. As to family members, yes, if they can read books on your account they can read these.
Q. That means that if my three kids are reading Harry Potter, I have seven more books for the adults in my family?
A. Actually, if three people are reading the same book, that only counts as one book. Your three kids could read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and you’d still have nine more books to go.
Q. Wait, so my Significant Other and I can read the same book at the same time and it only counts as one book?
A. That’s right. You can talk about it with each other…even race to finish it, if you want. The number of people who can read the same book at the same time is set by the publisher; unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, which you can see before you download it, that number of “simultaneous device licenses” is six.
Q. That sounds pretty good. I have somebody on my account who never reads books, though…any benefit for them?
A. Yes! Prime Reading includes magazines, and really well-known magazines: People, GQ, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated…
Q. We read those!
A. A lot of people do…they are some of the most popular magazines.
Q. I’ve got a kid who is a geek and a bookworm. Are there weird magazines in there too?
A. Not really. This selection, both books and magazines, is mostly more mainstream choices. Think of it as like what you would see in an airport bookstore.
Q. I get it. Oh, are videogames part of this?
A. No, but Amazon did introduce Twitch Prime, which does have videogames. To use Prime Reading, you have to be a Prime member…that means you do have access to music, TV shows, movies, and games, just not part of this program.
Q. How about Audible? I listen to books on my commute.
A. Not exactly, but if an e-book has an audiobook and is set up for Whispersync for Voice, you can listen to that audiobook as part of this. Right now, there are about 350…just about a third.
Q. How much does that cost? Some of those audiobooks are expensive!
A. It’s part of the deal…it doesn’t cost anything more.
Q. That’s going to save me a lot of money!
A. Prime’s an investment, but yes, it can save you a lot of money.
Q. I’ve heard about the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library? Is this the same thing?
A. No, that program required you to own a hardware Kindle, and you could only borrow one book a month. It did require a Prime membership.
Q. Hardware Kindle?
A. A Kindle e-book reader or a Fire. You can use Prime Reading with a free Kindle reading app…and those are available for lots of devices, including iPhones and iPads.
Q. Why would anybody use that Lending Library thing, then?
A. There are a lot more books there, about a million and half versus a thousand. That’s where there are more books your geek kid may like. Outside of that, I don’t see a real advantage to it. I’m thinking that the Lending Library may be going away.
Q. What about those million books, then? Would nobody be able to borrow them?
A. They are available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). That’s a separate program. People pay, usually $9.99 a month for access to those books. Outside of that, it works just like Prime Reading…the ten book at a time limit, for example.
Q. I don’t think I’d need that if I have these thousand books as part of Prime.
A. Maybe not. That will be the case for a lot of people. For people who want a lot more choices, though, KU will be worth the price.
Q. If they have Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading, can they have twenty books out at once?
A. No. I confirmed that specifically with Amazon. Getting a book through Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited counts towards your limit of ten. In fact, I don’t think there’s a way to say whether the borrow if from KU or Prime Reading.
Q. Well, they are paying more for Kindle Unlimited, so it seems like they should get more.
A. They do…they have more choices, just not more borrows. Think of Prime Reading as free access to a small part of Kindle Unlimited.
Q. Okay. Doesn’t seem worth it to me to pay that extra ten bucks a month.
A. It might not be for you, but some other people will think it’s a good deal.
Q. I can see that. One more question: why doesn’t Amazon just do this with all the books?
A. They have to pay the publishers, and they have to have permission.
Q. Oh, I have a cousin who wrote a book…can they do this to get more money?
A. It’s a very small group of books, and it sounds like it has been invitation only.**
Q. Alright, I’ll ask my cousin. Why would Amazon do this at all, then, if it costs them money and they don’t get anything more for it?
A. To make people more likely to stay with Prime. Prime members spend a lot with Amazon and they often spend it on higher profit items. There isn’t a lot of profit with e-books, not like with some physical items.
Q. That makes sense.
A. Do you have any other questions?
Q. Not right now. I guess I’ll check it out.
Readers, if you have other questions or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know 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! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
**There has been some very interesting public discussion about indies (independent publishers) and Prime reading. There have been rumors of “signing bonuses” (like an advance in traditional publishing) and then similar payments to KU. Here’s a forum thread on it: https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=1069009􄿑