Amazon launches Kindle Unlimited in Australia

Alex Kidman 8 November 2016

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Amazon’s subscription all-you-can-read service is now available down under.

We’re all pretty comfortable with subscription video and music streaming, whether your tastes run to Netflix, Stan, Spotify or Apple Music. But what about books? Until now, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription book service wasn’t (strictly speaking) offered for Australians. The boffins at Amazon must have worked out the rights issues, as the service is available in Australia from today.

What is Kindle Unlimited anyway?

Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s e-book subscription service, with a flat monthly fee for access to a large library of eBooks for you to read.

How much does Kindle Unlimited cost?

Amazon will charge $13.99 per month for Kindle Unlimited in Australia. In the US, it charges US$9.99 for the same service. At current exchange rates - bearing in mind that US prices never list sales tax and you’ve got to add GST to the mix - it means we’re getting Kindle Unlimited for a little less than our American cousins. That being said, they don't appear to be exactly identical services; while both promote the ability to read books, the US service also offers spoken word books and magazines under the Kindle Unlimited umbrella, where the Australian service is at launch book-only.

How many books are available?

Amazon says that "over 1 million" titles are available through the Kindle Unlimited scheme. Rather like the song services offered by Spotify or Apple Music, that doesn’t mean that absolutely every book ever will be available through the service. There are bound (book pun not intended) to be gaps here and there, but that at least should give you something to read at first. Whether or not a given book is entered into the Kindle Unlimited program is up to each publisher, so depending on your tastes you may find a little or a lot to please you.

Do I have to buy a Kindle e-reader to use Kindle Unlimited?

While it bears the branding of Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, you’re not required to buy a Kindle in order to use the service. Rather obviously, Kindle e-readers are compatible with Kindle Unlimited, although other competing e-ink e-readers are not.

Amazon provides apps for every major smartphone and tablet platform, as well as Macs and PCs, with the idea being that you can read your titles anywhere you are as long as you’ve got a device handy. You will need an Amazon account in order to use Kindle Unlimited titles, however.

Can I try before I buy?

Yes, you can. Amazon’s offering a 30-day trial of Kindle Unlimited so you can taste-test the service and figure out if it works for you.

Does this mean other Amazon services are coming to Australia?

Current rumours suggest that Amazon may be scaling up its Antipodean operations with a suggested launch for wider retail availability currently tipped for September next year. That's still at the rumour stage however.

More immediately, Amazon's show with the former hosts of hit show Top Gear is set to debut on its video streaming service, Amazon Prime with the title of The Grand Tour on 18 November. As yet, none of Australia's streaming or subscription (or for that matter free to air) services have announced a deal to broadcast the show, but we'd be surprised if nobody snaps it up before September next year.

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