What is Kindle Unlimited? [Complete Beginner’s Guide!]

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. – meaning I may get a commission if you decide to purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you.

Kindle Unlimited has become more of a buzzword amongst book lovers. Perhaps you’ve heard it from a friend, or maybe you’ve seen the “Read for Free” tag on the book purchase page. Regardless of how you’ve found out about it, if you are even remotely interested in reading books, you need to know about Kindle Unlimited!

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service by Amazon that allows users to access over 2 million titles, including books, comics, magazines, and audiobooks! You pay a monthly subscription fee, and the membership allows you to access Kindle Unlimited eligible titles at no additional cost.

I’ve been using Kindle Unlimited for quite a while now, and I’ve seen that people often have many questions about this service from Amazon. 

So, in this article, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about Kindle Unlimited – what it is, how it works, how to sign up, how to access Kindle Unlimited books, how to cancel the membership, and much more!

I will be sharing nuanced information that I wish I knew when I first started using Kindle Unlimited. My goal is to make this article as helpful as possible so that you can walk away knowing everything about the service and perhaps even a decision in mind about whether to use it or not!

So, let’s get started!

Quick Tip! Check out this special deal on Amazon that offers 3-months of Kindle Unlimited for FREE with this Kindle model! You can also try Kindle Unlimited for 30 days for FREE (no strings attached!)

What is Kindle Unlimited and How Does it Work?

As I’ve already mentioned above, Kindle Unlimited is a special membership program by Amazon. It is designed for readers primarily interested in saving money while reading books. 

The way Kindle Unlimited works is that you pay a monthly subscription fee, and you get access to all the Kindle Unlimited eligible books and comics, magazines, and audiobooks. The Kindle Unlimited boasts over 2 million titles in its library! So, there are plenty of options for every reader!

Although you cannot conclusively verify all the 2 million plus book titles on the platform, the types of books on offer is often a bone of contention for many and may not bode well with every type of reader (we will get to that in a moment), the options available are certainly seemingly endless.

How Much Does Kindle Unlimited Cost?

The Kindle Unlimited subscription currently costs $9.99 per month. It used to be that you could subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for a year previously. However, currently, you only get a monthly subscription option.

And if you think $9.99 is a bit expensive, then think of it this way – you can easily recover the cost by simply reading just one or two books in a month! Based on data research that I conducted on the cost of Kindle books, I noticed that a Kindle ebook costs $11.80 on average.

If you were to consider this figure, Kindle Unlimited is definitely cheaper than if you were to purchase a single ebook on Amazon. The paperback or hardcover versions are even more expensive!

How to Get Kindle Unlimited for FREE?

That said, there are ways of reducing the cost of the Kindle Unlimited subscription! 

In fact, you can even get the Kindle Unlimited for free, albeit for a limited period. Simply click on this Kindle Unlimited special sign-up link to get the subscription for a period of 30 days without paying a dime!

You will need to log in to your Amazon account before signing up. If you don’t have an account, you can create one for free. You will be asked to enter credit card details, but don’t worry; you won’t be charged anything for the first 30 days. 

Just be sure to cancel the membership before the end of the subscription period if you don’t wish to continue.

Also, check out my other article on how to get Kindle Unlimited for free, where I share other ways to get Kindle Unlimited without paying.

How to Save Money When Buying Kindle Unlimited?

In addition to getting Kindle Unlimited for free, there are also other ways you can save on the Kindle Unlimited subscription.

For instance, you can get a Kindle Unlimited subscription for a longer duration of time (6 months, 1 year, or 2 years). I know I mentioned that Amazon only provides a monthly subscription, but in my other article, I’ve shared a secret hack to get Kindle Unlimited yearly subscription! So, make sure to check that out!

You can save anywhere from 20% to 40% by getting a Kindle Unlimited membership for a longer period!

Can You Really Access Unlimited Books With Kindle Unlimited?

As a Kindle Unlimited member, you really do have access to read as many books and titles as you like. There is no limitation on the types of books you can access other than the eligibility of the books for Kindle Unlimited. 

However, there is a small catch. You can only download 20 titles at a time. Once you are done reading these 20 books, you can return them and download more books to read. 

The reason why there is such a limitation is perhaps Amazon wants to avoid any misuse by allowing access to all the books at a time. Doing so, unethical users can download all the books and may find a way to get them out of the Amazon ecosystem.

Based on my experience, access to 20 books simultaneously doesn’t feel like a limitation. In fact, it is quite generous. I mean, how many of us really read 20 books at the same time? I’m guessing not many, right?

Do You Need a Kindle eReader to Use Kindle Unlimited?

You do not need a Kindle eReader to use Kindle Unlimited. You can read Kindle Unlimited books across devices. For instance, you can easily access Kindle Unlimited books using your Kindle app on your phone or tablet, on your Kindle Reader, or even on a computer!

The process of accessing the books is the same. Once you add a Kindle Unlimited book for reading, it will automatically get downloaded to your library across all devices. You can then open the Kindle app and go to the “library” on your device. You will notice that the Kindle Unlimited book is already visible.

Make sure your device is connected to the internet if you don’t see the book immediately.

Are All Books Free On Kindle Unlimited?

All Kindle Unlimited eligible books are free to read if you are a Kindle Unlimited member. You do have to pay the membership fee of $9.99 per month. In that sense, the books aren’t technically free. 

However, once you sign up for the Kindle Unlimited service, you can read every single book that is available for the members as part of the service at no additional cost. Meaning, you don’t have a pay a single cent to read Kindle Unlimited eligible books, and you can read as many books as you like.

Make sure to check out my other article titled “Are All Books Free on Kindle Unlimited” where I go more in-depth on this topic. In it, I also help you understand how to identify Kindle Unlimited books.

That said, there is one caveat that you should be aware of (I’ve covered this in the next section). 

Are All Books from Amazon Available on Kindle Unlimited?

You may have seen me mention Kindle Unlimited “eligible” books quite a few times by now. One of the biggest point that puts people off is that not all books from Amazon are available on Kindle Unlimited!

In fact, many of the books on the platform are written by no-name authors. These are indie authors who are trying to make a name for themselves! Thus, the first time you log in once you sign up, you will immediately notice that you don’t recognize many of the books on display!

That is because mainstream authors stay away from the Kindle Unlimited platform. 

The main reason why well-established authors often don’t publish on Kindle Unlimited is because of the revenue-sharing agreement of Amazon with the authors. Amazon takes a big chunk of the revenue for publishing books using the Kindle Digital Publishing service (Amazon KDP).

This type of agreement doesn’t work well with well-known authors who can often sign a better deal directly with another publishing house.

However, Amazon KDP provides an exciting opportunity for upcoming writers to make a name for themselves and put their work in front of a large audience, even if it comes at a low income!

Don’t get me wrong, many of the books are really well-written. The books are often written by aspiring authors who have excellent writing skills but haven’t made a name for themselves (yet!). You just need to know how to find good books to read on Kindle Unlimited!

Other than that, there are several classics that you can read on Kindle Unlimited. There are books from renowned authors such as Jane Austin, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Homer, Joseph Conrad, Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells, and several others. 

You can easily find classics like A Tale of Two Cities, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Great Gatsby, The Time Machine, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Gulliver’s Travels, Les Miserables, David Copperfield, The Odyssey, Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, along with The Lord of the Rings series, The Harry Potter series, and many more!

Some Advantages and Drawbacks of Kindle Unlimited

It is important to understand that while Kindle Unlimited has some really useful features to offer, it has both advantages and drawbacks. 

I’ve written a detailed article on benefits and drawbacks of Kindle Unlimited. So, I shall be sharing just a few quick points here. But, feel free to check out my other article to understand all the details. 

Advantages of Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited does have some great advantages for avid book readers. Here are some of the key advantages of Kindle Unlimited – 

  1. Access to Over 2 Million Book Titles – the collection of books offered is really vast, and there really is something for everyone on Kindle Unlimited. You will never run out of options to read with such a huge library of titles!
  2. Switch Between Reading and Listening to Books – Kindle Unlimited also offers audio versions of a selection of books. This means you can easily switch between reading and listening to books. This is really helpful if you are doing an activity where reading is not possible or if you want to read books but reading is not your strong suit.
  3. No Additional Cost of Books – You can read as many books as you like. Unlike the traditional method, you don’t have to pay for books every time you finish reading one! On the flip side, you are sort of forced to read books since you are paying a monthly fee. So you don’t end up buying books and not reading them!
  4. Monthly Subscription Compels You to Read – This can be both an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your situation. If you want to make reading a habit, then the monthly subscription really helps as you want to make the most of it. However, if you like to take your own time to read a book, this aspect of Kindle Unlimited can be a limitation!

Drawbacks of Kindle Unlimited

Although Kindle Unlimited is great for avid book readers, there are also a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before subscribing to the service – 

  1. Lack of Mainstream Books – One of the biggest drawbacks of Kindle Unlimited is that most of the well-known books/authors are not available through this membership (more on that in the next section). The majority of the books are written by Indie authors. This is one of the major reasons that leads people to believe that Kindle Unlimited may not be worth the money!
  2. Can Access Only 20 Books at a Time – Another drawback of Kindle Unlimited is that you can only access 20 books at a time. While this might be sufficient for most people, however, voracious readers (for whom Kindle Unlimited is best suited) would perhaps find this to be a limitation.
  3. You Don’t Own the Books – One of the other disadvantage of Kindle Unlimited is that you don’t own the books. You need to return the books in order to access more books for reading. So, if you are a person who likes to keep the books and access them multiple times after a while, this might not work for you.

Is Kindle Unlimited Free for Prime Members?

People often confuse Kindle Unlimited with Prime Reading; which also offers a few free books to read every month if you are an Amazon Prime member

However, there is a significant difference between Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading. I’ve covered all the major difference in my other article. Make sure to click here to check out that article. 

Since Kindle Unlimited is independent from Amazon Prime and a separate service, thus, Kindle Unlimited is not free for Amazon Prime members. You still have to pay the $9.99 monthly subscription fee for Kindle Unlimited in order to access the membership even if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It?

In general, Kindle Unlimited is worthwhile, especially if you want to save money while reading! According to our analysis, the average price of a Kindle Unlimited book without a subscription is $5.66. Thus, reading just two books a month will allow you to recoup the subscription fee easily!

Plus, if you consider the other benefits of using Kindle Unlimited that I’ve mentioned above such as the opportunity to read as many books as you like, and the fact that you’re compelled to read rather than just paying the book and never really getting started with it (I did that all the time!), I think it is definitely worth taking the subscription!

If you want to check out all the calculations and the detailed analysis of our research, make sure to read my other article titled “Is Kindle Worth It?”.

How to Sign Up For Kindle Unlimited?

Signing up for the Kindle Unlimited membership is quite simple. All you need to do is click on this link to open the signup page, log in to your Amazon account, and enable the subscription.

I’ve written a detailed article on how to sign up for Kindle Unlimited with the exact step-by-step process with images. Make sure to check that out!

In the article, I show you how you can sign up for Kindle Unlimited across any device. Plus, I’ve also shared a secret way to use Amazon Gift Card for your Kindle Unlimited subscription!

How to Find Kindle Unlimited Eligible Books?

As you already know, not all Kindle books are available for Kindle Unlimited. Thus, it is important to know how to find Kindle Unlimited books to read once you’ve signed up for Kindle Unlimited.

For a full guide, check out my other article, where I share 4 different ways to find Kindle Unlimited eligible books. In it, I also share 2 ways to find some top-performing books on Kindle Unlimited. These are books you will most definitely enjoy reading!

The way to identify whether a book is eligible for Kindle Unlimited is by the tag on top of the book preview image.

The easiest way to find Kindle Unlimited eligible books on Amazon is by using the search bar. Here’s what you need to do –

Step 1 – Type “Kindle Unlimited” in the Search Bar

In this method, go to Amazon.com and type in “Kindle Unlimited” in the search bar as you would normally search for a product on Amazon. Then, press “Enter”.

Step 2 – Enable the “Kindle Unlimited Eligible” Option

Once all the results load, enable the “Kindle Unlimited” option from the left part of the screen. This will filter and show only the Kindle Unlimited eligible titles in the search result.

From here, you can also further click on any sub-category once you’ve enabled the “Kindle Unlimited” option. You can narrow down the Kindle Unlimited eligible books in that specific category!

How to Return Kindle Unlimited Books?

Once you’ve identified the books you want to read, and you’ve had a fun time reading them, it is perhaps time to return the Kindle Unlimited book so that you can borrow more!

Here’s what you need to do to return a book on Kindle Unlimited –

  1. Log in to your Amazon account
  2. Hover over your name and open the “content & device settings” option from the dropdown
  3. Click on the “Kindle Unlimited” option on the content and device settings page
  4. Locate the book that you wish to return
  5. Click on the “Return this book” option next to the book
  6. Finally, on the pop-up that appears, click on the “Return this book” button

In my other article, I explain the complete in-depth process to return a Kindle Unlimited book. I show you how to use any device to return your Kindle Unlimited book. If you wish to know more details, make sure to check out that article.

How to Cancel Kindle Unlimited Subscription?

Now, if you don’t wish to continue with your membership either during the trial period or later, you will need to know how to cancel your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Here’s how you can cancel your subscription –

  1. Log in to your Amazon account
  2. Hover over your name and click on the “Membership & Subscriptions” option from the dropdown
  3. On the next page, click on the “Kindle Unlimited Settings” button
  4. Next, click on the “Cancel Kindle Unlimited Membership” button
  5. Finally, click on “Continue to Cancel

For a detailed process with pictures, check out my article on how to cancel Kindle Unlimited subscription.

What Happens to the Books When You Cancel Kindle Unlimited?

Once you cancel your Kindle Unlimited subscription, you won’t be able to access the Kindle Unlimited books present on your device. Although the books will still be visible, however, when you try to open them, an error will appear, notifying you to activate the Kindle Unlimited subscription.

That said, Amazon will retain the notes and highlights associated with each book, and the next time you activate the subscription, you will be able to access the book along with the notes, highlights, and bookmarks.

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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