Photo by Sean Kelly. Text added.
Lately, every time I try to find an eBook to read through the library I notice that the title is 'checked out' and I have to put it on hold. This kind of model for eBook lending, which is the main model for the platform 'Overdrive,' can be frustrating to library users. The lending platform 'Freeding' uses a different model involving credits. Each patron is allotted a certain number of credits and newer or more popular titles cost more. With this model, at least you are never placed on hold, but it limits the patron in how many titles they can check out.
This has made me wonder if there was another service out there that could fuel my eBook hunger.
Enter Kindle Unlimited.
I just recently stumbled across this service and signed up for the free trial. The service costs $9.99 a month for unlimited access to their selected eBook collection. Here are my thoughts after using the service for a little while.
Not a great selection - yet.
Similarly to Amazon Prime Video, Kindle Unlimited seems to have only the dregs of content available. There are no new titles and a limited selection of other 'popular' titles. This may change over time, however. Netflix started out with not so great online content and now it is the reason I don't have cable TV. There is still a lot of garbage on Netflix, but they are constantly adding new things and have great original content. Right at this moment however, I would not pay for Kindle Unlimited based on the selection.
Has eBooks and eAudiobooks.
It has both! Which is pretty great. The selection is not the best yet, as previously mentioned, but you also get a free three month trial membership to Audible when you sign up for your first paid month of Kindle Unlimited. Audible has an amazing selection of audiobooks to download, so there's that.
No limit to how many you can rent.
This is more than I would ever need, personally. I can read 3 books and listen to 1 audiobook at a time, but that's my limit. And I normally read something like 4-5 books a month max. If you share your kindle with another person, you may be able to use the unlimited books more to your advantage. There is also the fact that you can access the eBooks from the Kindle app. I don't know if/how they are going to address this issue, but this seems to open it up to sharing the service with others. You and 10+ friends might be able to share the one service provided you log into the same account on a tablet or smart phone. Hmm. Not that I would try that, Amazon!
Now we can compare to this to the Library eBooks.
Well, sort of. You are already paying for it with your taxes, so you might as well use the service.
Selection can vary greatly.
In all likelihood, your library has a pretty amazing selection of eBooks and eAudiobooks. However, some publishers still refuse to to give libraries good deals (or any deals) for their books, so there are also some big holes in the collection. But the bigger problem is holds. When I seek out an eBook title, I want it now. I don't want to place it on hold and wait for a 'copy' to become available. It's a part of the digital culture to gain immediate access to information. This artificial limiting of the library collection makes zero sense to anyone ever. It's not just you.
There is normally some kind of limit.
I am lucky in that Seattle Public Library has a limit of 25 titles at any one time. There is no way I would ever need more, as previously outlined. Some libraries have smaller limits. I had an account for a library that allowed only 3 titles at one time. Another library used the Freeding service, which gave you 5 credits a month. With new and popular titles costing 3 credits, you essentially end up with 1 book a month. That's pretty restrictive.
Neither of these options are the catch-all "I will never buy another book again" solution. It's nice to have the free library service either way. You can check to see if the library has a title you want to read and if not, no big deal. You can purchase the eBook or find a print copy. Maybe once the selection is better for Kindle Unlimited, it will be worth looking into. Otherwise at $9.99 a month, it may not be worth it if I can't find titles I actually want to read.