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Amazon's New Kindle Unlimited Sounds a Lot Like the Public Library -- Only Not for Free, But Still Really Good

Amazon's new subscription service Kindle Unlimited, sounds tempting. For just $9.99 a month, subscribers get unlimited access to some 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of audiobooks. Okay, sounds good.

Best sellers are available on Kindle Unlimited (the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Water for Elephants, Wonder Boys), as are classics (The Good Earth, To the Lighthouse, 2001: A Space Odyssey). Again, sounds good.

Audio books offered include Life of Pi, the Hunger Games trilogy, The Handmaid's Tale and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Kindle features such as Whispersync (switching from reading to listening a book) are available and you can use your Kindle (duh!), iPhone, iPad, Android tablet or phone to access the titles. Again, all that sounds good.

Oh wait, all that also sounds like the services offered at the public library.

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Wait, so is Kindle Unlimited just a glorified library card? Yeah, pretty much. With two major advantages - super easy customer service and usually glitch-free technical performance. (Librarians, we've discovered, aren't always so great at customer service and the systems used to borrow e-books from a public library are far from glitch-free.)

Will those two factors be enough to entice readers to fork over $120 a year for unlimited access to select Kindle books and audio books? We're sorry to say, yeah, pretty much. The convenience is just too tempting. That damn "Buy now with just one-click (R)" button really is addicting.

Oh, and just to give any readers who might be on the fence about the service the extra push they need to sign up, Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial. (Yes, your credit card will be charged the monthly $9.99 if you forget to cancel the service.)

Excuse us, we have to go sign up for our free trial.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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