Prime Reading vs. Kindle Unlimited: A Complete Guide!

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Do you love binge-reading books? Do you dabble in and out of your selected reads, which makes paying for titles too expensive? Fortunately, Amazon allows you to pay a subscription fee to get unlimited access to a library of ebooks.

But since it offers two services that provide this perk, potential customers can get confused.

Prime Reading vs. Kindle Unlimited is a comparison based on how both services allow users to rent ebooks. They’re both monthly subscription services with respective content libraries. The comparison results in KU coming out ahead for serious readers and Prime for value-oriented customers.

The table below explores the similarities and differences between Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited, which is an apt way to start the definitive guide to how the two subscriptions fare against each other.

FeaturePrime ReadingKindle Unlimited
E-book LibraryOver 2,500 booksOver 1,400,000 books
E-Magazine Library61 magazines61 magazines
Free audiobook accessFor eligible titles within the catalogFor eligible titles within the catalog
Price$14.99/month or $139/year$9.99/month or $119/year
MusicAccess to Prime Music Streaming (including major labels and pop music)Read books like musicians’ biographies and how-to books about music
Video ContentWatch Prime TV, including Prime Originals, and get Ad-free Twitch PremiumRead eligible books on Video and Filmmaking
Shopping dealsGet prime day deals, Amazon prime deals, alongside quick and free shippingGet subscription discounts around Christmas and Black Friday
Reading InterfaceRead books anywhere on a Kindle reader, web browser, or the Kindle app on your smartphoneRead titles wherever you like on your Kindle e-Reader, Web browser, or on your smartphone’s Kindle app
BackupPick up where you left off. Your progress is saved even if you lose Prime accessContinue reading from one device to another with a cloud backup of your progress information, which is saved even if you lose KU access

What is Prime Reading?

Prime Reading is a value-added service for Amazon Prime subscribers that allows them to read from thousands of titles without buying them. Prime readers can access multiple titles simultaneously and read without any additional charges as long as they are Amazon Prime members.

Also Read – What is Prime Reading? Is It Worth It? [Full Guide!]

In addition to Prime Reading, you get a ton of benefits such as early access to product releases, faster delivery of items purchased on Amazon, free delivery on certain products from Amazon, access to thousands of movies and TV shows, ad-free access to millions of songs, online storage, and much more!

All these benefits are bundled in a single monthly Prime membership. If you aren’t a member yet, sign up for Amazon Prime and get a 30-day FREE trial by clicking on this link!

The key highlights of a Prime Reading subscription are:

  1. One subscription for all your entertainment and shopping needs – Get Prime video, faster amazon delivery, prime music, twitch premium, exclusive deals, and access to the Prime Reading library in one subscription.
  2. Access some of the most widely read magazines for free – Among 61 titles available to Prime Readers are Reader’s Digest and Cosmopolitan.
  3. Read and listen for free – You not only get to read from a library of thousands of titles but can listen to certain audiobooks for free.

What is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s dedicated reading-oriented subscription that allows members to read from millions of books free of charge. Titles include independent books enrolled in the KDP select program as well as traditionally published titles licensed by Amazon.

I’ve written a complete guide on Kindle Unlimited in another article where I share everything you need to know about the service. I even share secret tips I wish I knew when I first started using the service! Make sure you check out that article for full details!

If you haven’t used Kindle Unlimited before, simply click on this link and sign in to your Amazon account to experience the benefits of Kindle Unlimited!

Related Article – Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It? [Full Guide with Stats & RoI!]

The key highlights of Kindle Unlimited subscriptions are:

  1. Unlimited reading – Read as much as you want from millions of eligible titles.
  2. Discover the rising stars – Indie authors often enroll their books in the KDP select program, and you can uncover these gems before they become mainstream hits.
  3. Pay a fraction of the price – Some ebooks cost more than what you pay to read them as a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

Key Differences Between Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited

Now that you know what each service entails, you might notice an overlap. The aforementioned highlights don’t even cover all the features of these respective subscription packages. Upon fleshing both out, you’ll notice even more similarities like audio access and access to some of the same titles.

The key differences between Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited are catalog size, service scope, and price. Kindle Unlimited has a wider catalog while Amazon Prime serves more areas than just reading. In terms of price, Kindle Unlimited is three dollars cheaper.

Let’s explore further how the two services differ:

1. Pricing

Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited differ in their prices because they offer different value propositions. With Kindle Unlimited, a reader is paying to have unlimited access to a wider catalog of books.

While with Prime, the customer is paying for convenience and exclusivity in different areas of shopping and entertainment, including the exclusive prime reading library. The latter costs more.

An Amazon Prime subscription costs $14.99 per month, while the Kindle Unlimited subscription is priced at $9.99. The former might seem more expensive until you acknowledge that the Prime subscription includes much more than Prime Reading.

2. Feature Stack

The features of each subscription differ enough for Amazon to segment them as two different services. Still, consumers can get confused because the services have overlapping functions.

The free reading function is available in both Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited, but the size of their respective catalogs varies. 

For Prime Reading, Amazon approaches different publishers to acquire lending rights. With Kindle Unlimited, Amazon does the same (dealmaking with publishers) but also connects with indie authors to enroll their books into the Kindle Select program.

This makes a majority of the self-published books in the world freely available for the Kindle Unlimited program.

On the other hand, Prime Members pay more for a smaller catalog, albeit happily. Many Amazon Prime Members get their subscriptions for shopping and shipping benefits. To them, the Prime Reading benefits are free.

While some Prime Members don’t even use Prime Reading, enough consumers find it valuable enough for Amazon to make licensing deals with top magazine and book publishers. 

Books like Harry Potter are on Prime Reading because Amazon has made deals to make in-demand titles available for Prime reading. Other features of the subscription include free same-day delivery for eligible Amazon orders, access to Prime Music and Twitch premium, and exclusive deals.

3. Catalog Size

While a part of the service stack difference, this specific difference deserves emphasis because one catalog is one thousand times larger than the other. This might not be obvious to even Prime Readers because there are thousands of books to read for free.

These rotating titles can occupy all your reading time. Whether you select five books from a catalog of one thousand or from a library of a million, you will spend the same amount of time reading.

Kindle Unlimited has well over a million titles eligible for free reading, which is a thousand times more than what Prime Reading offers. This justifies the price of Kindle Unlimited despite the absence of non-reading perks like free delivery and movie streaming.

Is Kindle Unlimited Free for Prime Members?

Now that you understand the difference between the two services and understand where they overlap, you might wonder whether getting the two together is possible.

Kindle Unlimited is not free for Prime Members as it is a separate service that costs $9.99 per month (even if you are a Prime Member). Amazon Prime Members get free access to Prime Reading as a value-added service for the members.

When the Amazon lending library was abolished, it was rumored that the Kindle Unlimited program and Prime Membership would be merged.

Is Prime Reading Free for Amazon Prime Members?

Prime Reading is free for Amazon Prime Members for as long as they keep their Prime Memberships active. When the Prime Membership expires, a reader isn’t able to access the books he has borrowed from the Amazon Prime library.

Prime Reading is not a service separate from Amazon Prime; it is a title that covers written content made accessible with an Amazon Prime subscription. The cost of unlimited access to the Prime Reading catalog is included in the price of your Amazon subscription.

How Much Does Kindle Unlimited Cost?

Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month. Once subscribed, the reader has access to most books published via KDP as well as many best-selling books. The price of a Kindle Unlimited subscription is lower than the standalone price of some of the books otherwise available on Amazon.

That said, there are ways to get Kindle Unlimited for FREE, at least for a limited period of time.

Furthermore, you can also save up to 40% on the subscription cost using this method for getting a longer-duration subscription for Kindle Unlimited!

How Much is Kindle Unlimited with Prime Reading?

Kindle Unlimited with Prime Reading costs $22.98 but getting both services together isn’t optimal. Prime Reading’s catalog consists of books also available on Kindle Unlimited. You may get Amazon Prime for other reasons, but getting it for Prime Reading when you have Kindle Unlimited is redundant.

Are All Books Available on Kindle Unlimited?

All books are not available on Kindle Unlimited as Amazon needs to acquire appropriate licenses to make books available on Kindle Unlimited. Not all publishers agree to a Kindle Unlimited distribution agreement, which results in many books being excluded from the service.

I covered this topic in great detail in my other article. In it, I also talk about how to know if a book is included in the Kindle Unlimited membership. Be sure to check it out!

Which is Better: Kindle Unlimited or Prime Reading?

Kindle Unlimited is better for readers, while Prime Reading is ideal for deal-lovers. Kindle Unlimited gives you access to more books for less money, while Prime Reading gives you much more than unlimited reading. If shopping deals, video content, music, and quicker shipping sound lucrative, you should get prime reading.

If all you are interested in is reading, then Kindle Unlimited is much better. The subscription has a thousand times larger catalog than that of Prime Reading.

It is also redundant to get Prime Reading if you have Kindle Unlimited because the latter catalog includes the books available on Prime Reading. One can see Prime Reading as a trial for Kindle Unlimited as it gives you a portion of what Kindle Unlimited offers.

Is it Worth Upgrading to Kindle Unlimited or Prime Reading?

Now that’s we have established that getting Prime Reading isn’t worth it if you already have Kindle Unlimited, let’s explore the scenario where you have neither and would like to upgrade to some form of a free unlimited reading library.

It is worth it to upgrade to Prime Reading in most cases because you’re likely to be interested in Prime TV, free music streaming, and quicker delivery at no cost for a range of products. All of these benefits come with Amazon Prime. In terms of reading freedom and choices, Kindle Unlimited is worth it.

To further clarify who should pick which service, let’s explore the typical profile of the ideal Kindle Unlimited customer and the consumer who stands to benefit the most from Amazon Prime.

You should choose Prime Reading if:

  • You have a family – Even though you cannot share prime reading books with your family, your kids/siblings might enjoy Prime TV. If you use the same account for family shopping, you’ll be able to get Prime delivery as well.
  • You have an Amazon Echo device – If you have an Echo device, you can play music in your house and listen to exclusive podcasts on the go. You don’t need an echo device as these features work on smartphones as well.
  • You’re a magazine reader – If you’re thinking of upgrading to read magazines, you don’t need to get Kindle Unlimited when Prime Reading has all the same magazines alongside other prime benefits.
  • You don’t read more than one hour a day – If you don’t read more than an hour, you’ll not find the Prime Reading catalog too small for your taste. The books keep rotating, which means you don’t have to worry about finishing all the books in your Prime Reading library.
  • You explore books via discovery features – In case you don’t look for specific books and explore them via suggestions, you’re going to like the Prime Reading experience.

You should choose Kindle Unlimited if:

  • You want to read independently published books – Kindle Unlimited is the number one platform to rent independently published titles as many KDP publishers choose to enroll their books in KDP select.
  • You look for specific titles instead of the suggested ones – Given that the subscription service has a catalog that features over 1.4 million titles, the chances of the book you’re looking for being available for free reading is higher with KU.
  • You read for more than three hours a day – If you love to read more, then it makes sense to avail of a service that has a bigger catalog.
  • You take more than a month to finish a book – If you read a larger number of books simultaneously but a little at a time, you might take over a month to finish then.

    With Kindle Unlimited, books don’t become as quickly unavailable as they do with Amazon Prime Reading. KU allows you to finish the books at a slower pace.
  • You prefer to listen to books in addition to (or instead of) reading books.

About the Author

Akansha is a former business journalist and a seasoned communications professional. She is the founder of TheBookBuff, an avid storyteller, and a lifelong biblophile! Check out her profile page to know more about Akansha.

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