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If you’ve briefly gone over what you get as an Amazon Prime subscriber, you might have noticed “Prime Reading.” On the surface, it seems like a service with exclusive premium access to content not available outside (like Prime Video).
But, Prime Reading isn’t like Prime Video; it is more like Prime Music.
Amazon Prime Reading is a feature that allows eligible readers to get free access to read books but not keep them perpetually. The access is valid as long as the reader has a Prime Membership. This service is similar to Kindle Unlimited but is packaged with Amazon Prime.
In this article, we will explore in-depth what Prime Reading is and how it differs from Kindle Unlimited. The pricing of both services, alongside their key differences, will be compared to conclude which one is better for you.
You’ll also learn how to access and navigate the Prime Reading library. But first, we should return to the initial question for deeper analysis.
What is Amazon Prime Reading and How Does it Work?
Amazon Prime Reading is a digital library that Prime Members can access exclusively. To qualify for Prime Reading, you need to have an Amazon Prime account. This shouldn’t be confused with Kindle Unlimited, which is a broader library with a monthly subscription model minus add-ons.
Prime Reading works by checking a user’s account status and redirecting them to either the reading catalog or a custom sales page for Amazon Prime.
When you visit Amazon Prime Reading, your Amazon account status is checked by the server. If you’re logged in and are a Prime member, you can select titles to read.
You can also do the same via your Kindle browser, device, or app. In case you’re not logged in, you’re lumped in with non-prime members and are shown information regarding Prime Reading, including some of the titles that are available.
It is somewhat surprising that despite being the conglomerate’s native page, the Prime Reading landing page doesn’t sum up the subscription add-on’s key features in a clear way.
Key Features of Amazon Prime Reading?
One thing to note before we take a look at the benefits of Prime Reading is that you need to be a member of Amazon Prime in order to access Prime Reading!
Here are some of the key features of Amazon prime reading.
1. Free Access to Premium Titles
One of the frustrating things about Kindle Unlimited is that it has an inflated selection of books with little regard for quality.
The Prime Reading catalog is better curated and has more premium titles with traditional publisher backing. In contrast, a bulk of what Kindle Unlimited features are author-published books that were enrolled in the Kindle Select program. Authors usually enroll books in this program for reach and exposure.
2. Access Top Magazines
Amazon Prime Reading includes top magazines subscriptions. Among the magazines, you can read digitally as long as you have a Prime membership are the following:
- Reader’s Digest
- Golf Digest
- Family Handyman
- All Recipes
- Eat Well
- Bon Apetit
- Vanity Fair
- Men’s Health
Individual subscriptions to these magazines would cost more than the price of a Prime membership. If you’re a habitual magazine reader, then getting a prime subscription means the rest of the Amazon prime benefits are free.
3. Get Audiobooks
While this feature is limited to books that have narration set to available by the publisher, Amazon Prime Reading does feature a sizable catalog of audiobooks that can be consumed via Prime Reading.
Please note that “Audible Narration” and “Listen Free” are two separate features.
Prime Reading works in sync with audible, so you can pick up an audiobook (you purchased) from where you stopped reading the text version (free access). The titles that say “read and listen free” are the only ones that have free audio access.
That said, you can get access to Audible with a 30-day FREE trial. Simply click on the link and sign in to your account!
Amazon’s service sets sometimes overlap, which can be confusing.
Is Prime Reading the Same as Kindle Unlimited?
The two services that overlap not just in their mode but also in their presentation are Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited. On the surface, both seem like means to access books without paying per title, but that’s not the case.
Prime Reading is not the same as Kindle Unlimited. Prime Reading is a value-added service that’s a part of the Amazon Prime experience; you don’t pay specifically to get Prime Reading. With Kindle Unlimited, you don’t pay for anything except access to the Kindle Select catalog.
The books available in both can overlap, but the services maintain their separate catalogs.
This brings up the question of superiority. Which library access package is better? Given that many Prime Members don’t even know they have access to prime reading.
One can safely assume that said service doesn’t have as much product support as Kindle Unlimited, which accounts for one of the largest subscriber bases for any conglomerate in the world.
In other words, Kindle Unlimited has more people working on, constantly sourcing books, making deals with publishers, and offering incentives to authors to get the right books in front of you. Prime Reading has fewer titles, less effort behind it, but a greater wow factor.
Take magazine subscriptions, for instance. Kindle Unlimited has a catalog that features over 60 magazines but limits you to a subscription maximum of three. Prime Reading started with only the Condé Nast titles and went on to include all 61 titles that are available on Kindle Unlimited.
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime for Prime Reading only, you’re too early and are probably paying too much. Kindle Unlimited seems better priced for reading. However, Amazon Prime’s wider service set is what makes the price of Prime worth it.
How Much Does Prime Reading Cost?
Prime Reading costs $14.99 per month or $139 for the year (deducted as a single payment). This comes with all the Prime benefits, including faster delivery, access to exclusive shopping deals (alongside Prime Day sales), and Prime Video. Twitch Premium and Prime Music have also been added.
That said, the price isn’t worth the value if you’re subscribing to Prime just for the reading access. At $9.99, Kindle Unlimited has a wider catalog, including audiobooks.
But when you compare Kindle Unlimited to Prime Reading and realize that for only three dollars more, you can get access to premium video, music, streaming, and quicker deliveries alongside the Prime library, Amazon Prime does sound more lucrative.
Is Prime Reading Free for Prime Members?
Prime Reading is free for Prime Members as it falls under the value-added service umbrella of the overall Prime experience. Paying only $3 more than Kindle Unlimited, you get access to the Prime Reading library, premium music, streaming, same-day delivery, and exclusive deals.
The difference in catalog size might make Kindle Unlimited more appealing to those who care about books more than TV shows, shopping, and music. Kindle Unlimited includes books from independent authors as well and isn’t free for Prime Members.
Can You Access Prime Reading on Kindle?
You can access Prime Reading on a Kindle device, app, and browser as the access is integrated with your account’s Kindle experience. Prime Reading titles cannot be downloaded as offline PDF copies as the subscription entails DRM-protected lending only.
Kindle Unlimited Titles can be temporarily downloaded and sometimes be broken free of their DRM restrictions. We advise against that because, given the service’s price and the potential liability of such actions, it isn’t worth the trouble.
In the legal sense, both Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited are paid services that side-step the pay-per-title model and can be accessed on the Kindle apps and devices.
How to Use Prime Reading?
Now that you know that Amazon Prime Reading can be accessed via Kindle, the question is how.
Since it is possible to buy a book that is available on Prime library even when you are a Prime Member, you might end up buying a book erroneously when you have the ability to access it for free. Avoid this by following the steps below:
- To use Prime Reading, you must subscribe to Amazon Prime, visit the Prime Reading website and find the title of your choice. Click “read for free” to read the book or “read and listen for free” to get Audible access. You can also use your Kindle’s discover tab and set filters to books you can read for free.
- If you have access to Prime Reading, you will be able to find the titles with a “read for free” prompt next to them. Navigating Prime Reading titles is a little harder than finding the books available on Kindle Unlimited.
- As much is obvious from the bold price-alternative tag, “or read for $0.0 with Kindle Unlimited.” This is because Amazon prefers to have people paying for their library service instead of getting more out of a library service thrown on top of their already full premium services stack.
The following steps will make using Prime Reading easier for you:
1. Check Whether You have a Prime Subscription
You can do this by first going to amazon.com and logging into your account. After you’ve logged in, you can visit the Prime Reading page to check your subscription status.
If you are taken to a sales page for Prime Reading, then you’re not a Prime Member and must get the subscription. It is also possible that you might have multiple accounts and are logged into one that isn’t enrolled in the prime program.
Switching accounts and visiting the Prime Reading page can help.
2. Opt for a Device to Use Prime Reading on
Once you’re sure you have Amazon Prime Reading, you can pick a device you’ll use to explore Prime Reading. If you want to read books on your web browser, then use the Kindle cloud reader after getting the title via the Kindle store.
Otherwise, use the device on which you want to read. In most cases, this will be a Kindle reader or the Kindle app on a smartphone.
Suggested Reading: Kindle vs. Phone: Which is Better for Reading Books?
3. Go to the Search/Discover Tab
In your Kindle reader interface, as well as the smartphone app, you will find a tab dedicated to searching and discovering titles. Tap on it and search for the title you’re looking for.
If you’re a Prime Member, the eligible title will say “read for free with prime.” Click that, and you’ll be able to read without paying for the title.
Sometimes this button says “$0.0 with Kindle Unlimited.” if the book is available on Prime Reading and you have a Prime subscription, it will say “read for free with prime”, even if the title is also available via Kindle Unlimited.
Can You Borrow Books on Prime Reading?
You can borrow books on Prime Reading as long as you don’t intend on renting more than ten titles at a time. This is more accessible than the lending library, which allows owners to rent one book at a time. You cannot own books on Prime Reading. All titles are borrowed.
Can You Share Books on Prime Reading?
You cannot share books on Prime Reading. Book owners are the only ones who can lend ebooks on the Kindle interface. Since Prime Readers don’t own any Prime titles and only rent them without charge, they don’t have lending rights.
Can You Access Prime Reading on Smartphones or Tablets?
You can access Prime Reading on smartphones and tablets, including iPads, iPhones, Samsung smartphones, Huawei phones, and other phones and tablets that run the Android framework. You can also access Prime Reading via Amazon devices like the Kindle reader and the Fire tablet.
How Many Books Can You Access Using Amazon Prime Reading?
You can rent up to 10 titles at a time from thousands of titles eligible for Amazon Prime Reading. This also includes 61 magazines, popular titles like the Harry Potter books, and highly acclaimed classics.
The most popular Kindle titles are enrolled in the Prime Reading library after a few years of their launch.
Is it Worth Upgrading to Prime Reading?
Because Amazon Prime offers such an incredible value stack, consumers end up getting a subscription for one feature without realizing that there are other benefits they can avail themselves of.
It is not worth upgrading to Prime Reading for books alone. However, if your main reasons to get Amazon Prime are quick delivery, exclusive deals, free music streaming, and Prime Video content, the Prime Reading service is worth the three dollars more you pay compared to Kindle Unlimited.
This is the case with Prime Reading, as it is one of the most underrated aspects of a Prime subscription. But its value as a stand-alone reading service isn’t something to rave about.