Unlike Apple or Netflix, Amazon has never had class.
If you ask me, Amazon is merely a more efficient version of Walmart and the Post Office combined.
What I mean is that Amazon lets you get cheap stuff delivered to your house or office fast.
Kindle e-reader and Kindle tablet are both cheap plastic junk targeted at those who lack the class and the ingenuity to beg, borrow or steal an iPad.
And Amazon Prime Instant Video is mostly old stuff for people who thrive on leftovers.
Given my knowledge of Amazon’s lowbrow offerings, I did not expect the just announced Kindle Unlimited e-book subscription service to be anything remarkable.
Still given my passion for reading, I took a deko at Kindle Unlimited.
Since reading is my refuge from the tedium and turbulence of daily life, I quickly signed up for the $9.99 per month Kindle Unlimited service.
Kindle Unlimited is kinda like an all-you-can Indian buffet in the U.S. (btw, only Chinese and Indian restaurants offer buffets in America).
Of course being a desi, I quickly took advantage of the free 30-day trial for Kindle Unlimited.
You can borrow up to ten books at a time from the Kindle Unlimited catalog and read them on up to six devices or reading apps.
You have to sign up for the program. Since I already had an Amazon account it took just 10-seconds to sign up for Kindle Unlimited. And then to fire up the dormant Kindle app on my iMac and registered my account, it was another 10-seconds.
Most of the books I searched for were not available on Kindle Unlimited.
Finally, I settled on The Order of Things: Hierarchies, Structures, and Pecking Orders and a couple of other books.
Once I added a book via the browser on the Amazon web site, I could send it to both my Mac as well as the Kindle app on my old iPad 2. If the book doesn’t appear on your PC or tablet, hit refresh and you should see the e-book. It took less than a minute for them to appear on my computer and tablet. I did not test the service on my Kindle e-book reader but I have no doubt it’ll work on any device registered with Amazon.
But easy signup and fast delivery of e-books to the PC, tablet or other devices are only two aspects of Kindle Unlimited.
More important is the breadth of quality books available on the service.
Lacking Good Content
Amazon is making a big deal about the 600,000 titles available on Kindle Unlimited.
The service also includes a few thousand audiobooks.
But Kindle Unlimited’s glaring weakness is that a ton of good content is missing on the service.
Decades-old classics like Nabokov’s Lolita and Pnin are not available on Kindle Unlimited. It’s like Netflix not carrying movie classics like Casablanca, Star Wars, Citizen Kane or Forrest Gump.
I understand that major publishing houses like Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette and Simon and Schuster are not participating in Kindle Unlimited. That leaves thousands of popular books, old and new, out of Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon is now perceived by publishers as the 600-pound gorilla out to wreck their business.
So I’m not surprised the big publishers are not playing ball with Kindle Unlimited.
Missing Indian Authors
Indians are increasingly leaving their stamp on English books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Sadly, the list of prominent books by Indians or on India missing on Kindle Unlimited is a long one.
Here are a few Indian gems missing from Kindle Unlimited:
* Rohinton Mistry – A Fine Balance
* Romila Thapar – A History of India: Volume 1
* Mahatma Gandhi – Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
* Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland (2013)
* Ramachandra Guha – India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy (2008)
* Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram (2005)
* Vikram Chandra – Sacred Games (2007)
* Katherine Boo – Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012)
* Rana Dasgupta – Capital: The Eruption of Delhi (2014) and Tokyo Cancelled (2007)
* Manil Suri – The Death of Vishnu (2012)
With so many good books by Indians missing on Kindle Unlimited, I wondered why any desi should subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.
Missing – SI’s Other Favorites
Besides the popular Indian writers, I found plenty of other favorites too missing in Kindle Unlimited.
Some were 172 year old world Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat (1842).
Gogol died in 1852 and it’s unpardonable that his works should not be part of Kindle Unlimited.
* David Sedaris – Me talk Pretty One Day
* Will and Ariel Durant – The Story of Civilization
* Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita (1955), Speak, Memory (1967), Pnin (1957)
* John Le Carre – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Tailor of Panama; A Delicate Truth; A Most Wanted Man
* Amy Chua – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
* Henry Miller – Tropic of Cancer (1934)
* Joseph Heller – Catch 22 (1961)
I’m not in the least surprised that Kindle Unlimited is a huge disappointment.
I’ve never expected anything better from Amazon and they’ve never surprised me.
For bibliophiles, Kindle Unlimited is not the only e-book subscription service.
There’s Oyster ($9.95 a month, 500,000 titles), Scribd ($8.99, 400,000 titles) and Entitle (less of a rental and more of a download program).
Unlike a movie rental/streaming service like Netflix or music service like Spotify, e-book subscription services have yet to take flight because of the limited selection and pricing.
Best Subscription Service
If you ask me, there’s no better book subscription service than your local library.
U.S. libraries allow readers to borrow more than 10 books, magazines, music CDs, and movie DVDs at any time for free (of course, it’s funded by the taxes you pay). If you’re looking too borrow e-books from your local library, use the Overdrive app.
I can’t see Kindle Unlimited becoming a big hit unless they ramp up the number of classics and popular books from major authors.
In its current form, Kindle Unlimited is just not worth it.
You are giving Wrong Advice to Indians.
Indians will go for anything that is Free, they don’t matter about the Content.
You write: Indians will go for anything that is Free,
Kindle Unlimited is NOT free.
It costs $9.99 a month.
Only the first 30-days is free.
You have mentioned that there is 30 days free for Kindle Unlimited.
That is enough for Indians.
I suppose so! 😉
Public libraries are generally good here with a decent collection of books, CDs and DVDs. And they’re free too.
I see South Indians making good use of the libraries here.
That’s problem with Southies. They read and think a lot without putting thoughts into Actions.
Northies act a lot without Thinking at all.
And these People never get together at all. Great Bharat Mahaan.
What’s your opinion on Khushwant Singh and his works? (Currently reading one of his books)
And on Indian History books (as far as I have seen), they mostly tend to overlook about the history of South India but they usually cover a lot about North India. How about the one on the above list – A History of India: Volume 1 ?
1. I haven’t read any of Khushwant Singh’s famous books (History of Sikhs or Last Train to Pakistan although I may have read his collections of articles in book format). In the 70s, Khushwant Singh edited Illustrated Weekly was the most popular English publication in India.
2. As for South India, most historians cover Adi Sankara, the Vijayanagar Empire, Tippu’s wars against British, Calicut, Vasco da Gama, Malappuram, Clive in Madras etc.
Romila Thapar, it’s been many years and I don’t remember the details now. What I recollect is that it stops well before advent of British in India.
Khuswant Singh has written story or novel called, “The Mark of Vishnu” on South India’s Elite deity, Vishnu.
The book is about mad devotion of Vishnu devotee towards Vishnu and his affection for Snakes (After all, Vishnu is resting on Snake in most of South Indian Temples).
Book ends in mocking superstition of devotee, who was getting killed by Snake bite and even at the time of death, he doesn’t change his superstition on Snakes.
It was thought provoking and sarcastic on many of Hindu Beliefs.
1. Our library does not have The Mark of Vishnu. They only have I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale. The Mark of Vishnu looks interesting. But I found it on Amazon…will buy it one of these days.
2. The sight of Hindu women, young children in tow, pouring milk down anthills to appease the snake god Naga is one of the most comical sights I’ve seen in my life. Utter insanity. Do they still do it in India? 😉
Yes, still it exists.
Religion, is a powerful weapon for Elite to Control Masses. The Elite of India, especially from West and South India manipulate Masses in Name of Religion through various forms of Media. And. People also get carried away by Religion without examining Rationality behind it.
They still do, eh? Interesting. Thanks.
I’m surprised no one has posted a YouTube video of Indians pouring milk on an ant-hill and praying there.
Just checked. Found none.
If you can afford with Normal Reading, try to download books through Internet, instead of paying money to buy books.
I try not to buy any book costing more than $0.01 (i.e. one cent).
I rarely go beyond 99-cents.
You get very good quality books on AMZN for 99-cents to $4.00. Unfortunately, shipping is $$2.99-$3.99.
Of course, nothing like a good local library to dip into at will.
One of my recent reads – Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris. Nice pick if you like humor. You can pick any chapter/essay and start reading.
Either YouTube Videos are highly censored in India or People are discouraged from shooting such Videos.
Still there are many Idiotic and Cruel Incidents happen in India in Name of Religion.
Mainstream Media wantedly avoid publishing such News.
Check this link
[Link deleted because it’s not in English]
This is just tip of iceberg.
What alien hieroglyphics is your ‘tip of the iceberg’ in?
Sweetie, only English language links in future.
Link reveals an incident which happened two days back in a village of Salem district, Tamilnadu.
The incident involves People successfully preventing a human sacrifice incident involving a 4 year old boy carried out by his father.
Even if you delete the link, ask Tamil members of SI team to read link.
There are such incidents happening throughout India, which are normally published in Regional languages only.