Some highlights: no additional cost to borrow, free to own
Some people are what I call “piece buyers”: they see a book that they want, and they pay for that book on an individual basis. Amazon has lots and lots of sales for them.
That’s certainly the traditional way to go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I still do some piece buying, although I would guess it is all for gifts for people not on my account.
Another way to go is to use a subscription service, what I call a “subser”. With a subser, you don’t pay for each book, and you don’t own the book (technically, when you buy a Kindle book, you are buying a license to read it). You pay a set amount, and then can borrow books to read as part of that.
Amazon’s subser is
You can get a thirty day free trial, or you typically pay $9.99 a month (it’s sometimes on sale for more time for less per month.
There are currently more than one and a half million titles (!) in KU for the USA…many times the total number of titles which were available when the Kindle store launched getting on towards ten years ago.
You can borrow up to ten at a time (and each one can be usually be read on multiple devices registered on the same account at the same time…typically up to six).
It seems to me like Amazon has recently probably upped their spending on titles for KU…I would say the selection is getting better. That’s actually what prompted this post.
Another thing which could be used as a subser, but for most people, the free to borrow books are an ancillary benefit, is Amazon Prime and its
There are 1,086 titles there at time of writing…much less than one percent of the KU titles, but there are still some good choices.
Both KU and PR are books to borrow. There are also tens of thousands of free to own books from the Kindle store at Amazon.com. Many of them are in the public domain (not under copyright protection), and some of those are some of my favorite books.
Here is a search for the 89,886 at time of writing:
Okay, let me point out some highlights. I’ll start with ones which are exclusively Kindle Unlimited, then do Prime Reading, then do free to own (anybody in the USA with an Amazon.com account can get those). I think I’ll do three of each, and I won’t repeat the same book (even though the ones I mention for PR will be in KU). Note: books can go in and out of these categories, so as always, check the price before you click, tap, or eye gaze (the last one is in virtual reality) that title).
Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert [Kindle in Motion] by Patricia Cornwell
Amazon even sent me an e-mail on this one, which was released February 28, 2017. Cornwell, of course, is a bestselling author…this one is non-fiction about Jack the Ripper (we are in a bit of a “Ripperssance” right, now with a new Time after Time TV series based on the Nicholas Meyer movie). It’s also a “Kindle in Motion” book, which includes animation…that’s viewable on a tablet or phone, but the book can be read (without the animations) on an EBR (E-Book Reader). I will borrow this for my Kindle Fire, because I’m curious about the animation elements. The hardcover is #1,098 in Kindle books right now, which is quite high (and that’s without the animations, of course).
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Soon to be a Hulu original series (I may watch in Virtual Reality…Hulu has done some really interesting things with their VR app), it’s rated 4.1 out of 5 stars with 3,202 customer reviews at time of writing. It’s #39 in the Kindle store right now (paid e-books), and would cost $9.99 to buy. It’s a dark dystopian novel, but critically acclaimed.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
3.8 stars, 523 reviews, it’s a young adult book which inspired a Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning movie.
There’s three for KU…on to Prime Reading. Again, if you are a USA Amazon Prime member, you can borrow these at no additional cost.
The One That Got Away by Simon Wood
4.2 stars, 5150 reviews…Simon Wood has sold over a million copies of books. This one is a crime thriller.
Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire Book 1) by J.R. Rain
This is a series starter that’s gone on to thirteen books…884 customer reviews with an average of 4.3 stars. In this urban fantasy, Samantha Moon is a private investigator…and a vampire.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A Man Booker Prize winner and massive bestseller, it’s rated 4.4 stars with 6,718 customer reviews…that’s remarkably good! It also was the basis for a 2012 multiple-Oscar winning movie. It would be hard to describe a book that would be considered to be a better value for a no-added cost offer, unless it was brand new and topping the bestseller lists.
Three and three…now for free! 😉 Free to own, that is…again, on the above, you are borrowing them as part of a membership. These next ones are yours to own, free and clear. You don’t even need a Kindle to read them (you can use free Kindle reading apps on other types of devices), although there is a $20 off sale right now for National Reading Month (gee, isn’t that every month?) 😉 on everything except the top of the line Oasis:
- Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99
- All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $59.99
- Kindle Voyage (any configuration) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $179.99
Well, I thought I’d check the most reviewed books first, and the number one was this
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References) by Crossway Bibles
It has 8,826 reviews with 4.5 stars.
Next, I’m going to recommend the original fourteen (Wizard of) Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Regular readers know I’m a big Oz fan, but it’s particularly relevant to read them now with the bleak adaptation Emerald City running on NBC. The famous fourteen (in order) are
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- The Marvelous Land of Oz
- Ozma of Oz
- Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
- The Road to Oz
- The Emerald City of Oz
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz
- The Scarecrow of Oz
- Rinkitink in Oz
- The Lost Princess of Oz
- The Tin Woodman of Oz
- The Magic of Oz
- Glinda of Oz
I’d read them from the beginning straight through…hang on through the first book, they really change after that (for a good reason).
Note that there are other Oz books…I’d take considerable care with reading The Woggle-Bug Book, which is written by Baum but doesn’t fit the rest of the series well at all. It’s an adaptation of a stage play and has a lot of ethnic humor, including the use of the “n word”. The first book by the successor author Ruth Plumly Thompson (who is quite good, although not as deep), The Royal Book of Oz, is also commonly available (being old enough to be in the public domain).
If you are reading the books because of the TV series…there are elements in the series from quite a few of them, and it’s not particularly tied to The Emerald City of Oz. If you only want to read one, I’d go with the second book, The Marvelous Land.
Finally, I think I’ll go with
The Country of the Blind, and Other Stories by H.G. Wells
This is a collection of short stories, and The Country of the Blind is one of my favorite short stories by anyone.
There you go! Three free for anyone, three for Prime members, and three for KU members. I would consider all of these books worth piece buying (although I haven’t looked at the Cornwell book yet, it’s a pioneer, at least).
Do you have other recommendations for free/no cost added books for me and my readers? Would you caution people against one of the books I’ve suggested? Feel free to let us 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!
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.