Beginning on Wednesday, Amazon Prime members will get free eBooks with Prime Reading. The new program gives U.S. users unlimited access to "a rotating library of over a thousand books" and magazines, provided they use a Kindle tablet or smartphone app.
Prime Reading expands, but does not replace, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which allows Prime users to download and read one eBook per month on their Kindle readers and tablets. The first batch of Prime Reading books includes The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.
The new perk comes on the heels of the September announcement that Prime members would receive free subscriptions to Audible Channels, Amazon's standalone audiobook and podcast service. At just 50 books, Audible Channels' rotating collection is considerably smaller than that of Prime Reading.
Both Prime Reading and Audible Channels appear to signal a return to Amazon's roots as the Internet's premier bookstore. The new perks are unlikely to bring new Prime members into Amazon's fold, however. As CNET notes:
[A]ll the additional reading sparked by Prime Reading could help drive more sales of e-books, a market Amazon helped birth and still dominates. Also, Prime Reading may serve as a gateway to get more of Amazon's loyalest customers to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's $10 monthly reading service that includes over 1 million books and thousands of audiobooks. Using a similar tactic, Amazon last month introduced a slimmed-down, free-for-Prime version of its paid audiobook services called Audible Channels. A full Audible membership costs $14.95 a month.
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