MONEY Tech

How Amazon’s New E-book Subscription Service Stacks Up

Amazon Kindle in front of a bookshelf
JHPhoto—Alamy

The Seattle retailer just announced Kindle Unlimited, which will go head to head with existing reader subscription services Oyster and Scribd.

Updated July 18th

This morning, Amazon announced Kindle Unlimited, a new e-book subscription service. But while Amazon is now the biggest name in the “Netflix for books” business, it’s not the only option. So, how does Kindle Unlimited compare with Oyster and Scribd, it’s best-known competition? Here’s the rundown:

Price

At $9.99 per month, Kindle Unlimited is slightly more expensive than the competition. Scribd is priced at $8.99 a month, and Oyster at $9.95. All three offer a trial month for free.

Selection of books

Not surprisingly, Amazon comes out on top in terms of the sheer number of e-books included. The company says Kindle Unlimited includes more than 600,000 titles, plus “thousands” of audio books. Oyster says it has more than 500,000 titles. Scribd, for it’s part, has more than 400,000.

When it comes to the question of which service offers the “best” books, things get a little muddy. Kindle Unlimited includes popular series like the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games trilogy, as well as a a number of best-sellers, like Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and some new titles such as Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. But, as noted by GigaOm, the service does not include books from the “Big 5″ publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House.

Scibd and Oyster, on the other hand, both offer books from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. In additon, each has a few notable deals with smaller publishers: Oyster has books from McSweeney’s and Rodale, while Scribd offers Lonely Planet guides and reference books from Wiley.

Device compatibility

Kindle Unlimited works with all Kindle devices (obviously!), and, via the Kindle app, can be used on most smartphones, tablets and computers. Scribd has apps for the iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. Oyster users can access the service on Apple and Android devices, Kindle Fire and the Nook HD.

The takeaway

Kindle Unlimited isn’t a book lover’s silver bullet. Indeed, as noted by Gizmodo, the books offered by the service aren’t that different from what Amazon Prime subscribers can already access. However, if Amazon is able to get the Big 5 onboard, that could change. At this point, the decision about which service is best for you depends largely on which provider’s library you prefer. So, since all three offer a free month trial, why not give each a spin?

A previous version of this story stated that Oyster is available only on Apple and Android devices. It has been updated to reflect the fact that Oyster may also be used on Kindle Fire and Nook HD.

 

 

 

TIME Amazon

Amazon Just Launched ‘Kindle Unlimited,’ a Subscription Service for E-Books

The online retailer is entering the competitive e-book subscription game

+ READ ARTICLE

The online retail giant Amazon announced Friday it’s launching an e-book subscription service called “Kindle Unlimited.”

Kindle Unlimited lets Amazon customers pay $9.99 every month for unlimited access to 600,000 titles plus more than 2,000 audiobooks accessible on any Kindle or Kindle app on any mobile device, according to the company. Amazon introduced the service in this video, which is unavailable for embedding in this post.

With the announcement, Amazon enters a field populated by other similar services, chiefly Scribd, Oyster and Entitle.

Titles available through the service include books like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the the Harry Potter series. The more than 2,000 audiobooks available through the service are linked up with Amazon’s Whispersync program, allowing the reader to switch between reading and listening to the narrated text.

Depending on the details of how Kindle Unlimited was set up, the program may further complicated Amazon’s relationship with book publishers. Several of those publishers have been locked in a years-long tug-of-war with Amazon over the company’s pricing of e-books, which publishers argue has been too low. In a somewhat separate but related issue, Amazon is currently embroiled in a dispute with one publisher in particular, Hachette, most likely over the pricing of Hachette’s physical and digital books.

TIME Books

The 5 Best Books for Your Kids This Summer (According to Other Kids)

Time for Kids asked its reporters to review new children's book releases. Here's what they had to say

Looking for an engaging summer read for your child? TIME For Kids Magazine asked its kid reporters to review the season’s hottest new books. The result is a list of kid-approved page-turners:

Credit: HMH Books for Young Readers

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

By Marcia Wells

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Max Siegel

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 240

What’s the basic story line?

Edmund Xavier Lonnrot (Eddie Red) is an average sixth grader. That is, if the average sixth grader has a photographic memory and can draw anything he sees. His whole life, Eddie has used these gifts for fun. But one day, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) seeks his help with a case involving some major art thieves. Eddie finally puts his extraordinary talents to good use.

Are the characters believable?

Although Eddie has some amazing talents, those talents are believable. A person can have photographic memory and great art skills, just as Eddie does. What is unbelievable about this book is the plot. The NYPD hires Eddie to work on a case. Although the police don’t intend this, Eddie faces major danger. I’m not sure about the legality or possibility of the NYPD—or any police force, for that matter—hiring a kid to help with a case.

Who would like this book?

Any kid who likes a good mystery with constant twists and turns—and who feels okay never knowing who’s good and who’s bad—would love this book.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would give this book an 8. It’s a clever mystery that will keep readers engaged. The huge plot twist at the end is surprising and really elevated the book for me. Plus, Eddie’s situation is compelling. He’s just a regular kid who has extraordinary talents.

Credit: Viking Juvenile

The Glass Sentence

By S.E. Grove

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Kristen Rigsby

Genre: Fantasy

Number of pages: 512

What’s the basic story line?

In 1799, the Great Disruption threw the continents into different time periods. The once-mastered art of mapmaking became a great challenge, one suited for only the most experienced and trained explorers.

Nearly 100 years after the Great Disruption, Sophia Tims and Shadrack Elli, Sophia’s uncle and master cartographer, begin map reading and map writing in an attempt to find Sophia’s missing parents. But when Shadrack is kidnapped by fanatics looking for a memory map of the entire world called the carta mayor, Sophia must set out to find him too. With the help of her newfound friend, Theo Thackary, and a glass map that Shadrack left for her, Sophia ventures into the unknown. Along the way, she encounters a multitude of mysteries, creatures, and hazards.

Are the characters believable?

Some of the characters in The Glass Sentence are believable. Sophia Tims is an inquisitive and audacious 13-year-old who loves to explore, read maps, and draw. Theo Thackary is an adventurous and daring boy who often gets into trouble. Other characters in the book, however, are creatures of fantasy. The Lachrima, for example, is a ghostlike being that haunts people with its cries. Other main characters, such as Varessa and Martin, are part human and part plant.

Who would like this book?

Anybody who loves works of fantasy, especially the Chronicles of Narnia series, the Harry Potter series, or the Lord of the Rings, will enjoy exploring this unique and captivating world with Sophia and Theo.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate The Glass Sentence a 9.5. The alternate world of the Great Disruption is incredibly inventive. Sophia and Theo come to life, venturing through unknown terrain and uncovering the secrets of mapmaking along the way. The plot seamlessly ties the world and the characters together, taking the reader on a fascinating and wild journey. From the moment you pick up this book, you will not be able to put it down.

Credit: HarperCollins

Saving Lucas Biggs

By Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Gloria Choi

Genre: Science fiction

Number of pages: 288

What’s the basic story line?

Thirteen-year-old Margaret O’Malley’s life is turned upsidedown when her compassionate father is sentenced to death by the cruel Judge Biggs. Margaret’s father is innocent, and she sets out to prove it. As time ticks by, Margaret makes a devastating choice. She is forced to unravel her family’s deepest secret—a sacred super power. She uses her ability to time-travel to make a daring journey into the past, when Judge Biggs was just a boy. Can she change the course of history and prevent him from growing up to be a corrupt man? Or will she return to the present only to find her father is still destined for disaster? Luckily for Margaret, she has her friends Charlie and Grandpa Josh, who join her in the quest to save the person she loves the most.

Are the characters believable?

Characters like Margaret may not seem believable at first. After all, she has an incredible super power passed down from her ancestors. Super power aside, she is just another girl with a special gift. Everyone can relate to Margaret’s desire to help a loved one no matter how big the obstacles.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who favors a combination of science fiction (especially time travel), adventure, and fantasy will like this book. In particular, fans of the Hunger Games series, the Divergent series, the novel The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, or even the film Back to the Future will enjoy reading Saving Lucas Biggs.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate Saving Lucas Biggs a 9. The plot and characters are interesting, relatable, and captivating. The story exhibits a wide range of emotions, from sheer excitement to bleak desperation.

Credit: Candlewick

Three Bird Summer

By Sara St. Antoine

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Camryn Garrett

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of pages: 256

What’s the basic story line?

For his entire life, 12-year-old Adam has spent summers at his Grandma’s cabin in Minnesota. But this year things are different. His parents have divorced. On top of that, Adam’s cousins won’t be vacationing at the cabin with him. Also, Grandma seems to be acting differently. At first, she’s just a bit more forgetful than usual. But after spending more time with her, Adam realizes Grandma is “slipping.”

There are new neighbors at the cabin this summer, including a girl Adam’s age named Alice. At first, Adam isn’t interested in spending time with her. But as time goes by, their friendship flourishes. Throughout this unusual summer, Adam searches for hidden treasure with his new friend and begins to uncover family secrets as well.

Are the characters believable?
The characters are believable because they don’t have cookie-cutter personalities. Adam is quiet and shy and finds girls difficult to understand. Alice is adventurous and unlike any girl he has ever met. Readers will likely see aspects of their personalities in the characters and recognize their friends too.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who appreciates memories of family vacations or summertime in general will enjoy the vivid imagery that fills Three Bird Summer. Readers will fall into the story, almost as if they’re actually spending the summer exploring Three Bird Lake with Adam and Alice.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate this book an 8, because the imagery is astounding, allowing readers to feel like they are experiencing the story along with the characters. The plot didn’t begin to pick up until the middle of the novel, but the relatable characters create enough interest in the story to compel readers to keep turning the pages.

Credit: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Poached

By: Stuart Gibbs

Reviewed: by TFK Kid Reporter Graham Ross

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 336

What’s the basic story line?

Teddy Fitzroy lives at FunJungle, the world’s largest zoo. He has a reputation for being a troublemaker. FunJungle has recently acquired a big moneymaking attraction—a furry koala named Kazoo. Unfortunately, the adored koala goes missing, and all fingers point to Teddy! A security guard nicknamed Large Margeis sure Teddy is guilty, and she will stop at nothing to prove it. Teddy must find the real thief before it is too late. Will he find the real koala-napper, or will he be framed and sent off to juvenile hall?

Are the characters believable?

Some of the descriptions are exaggerated. For example, an eighth grader is described as having “biceps as thick as Burmese pythons.”Other than that, the characters do seem pretty believable. Teddy acts like an average kid who is trying to fit in at a school where he is an outcast. Large Marge acts like a typical person with a grudge. She sees Teddy as a nuisance and is fixated on catching him red-handed.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who enjoys thrilling stories with plot twists on every page would love this book.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

Hands down, I would certainly give this book a 9. I appreciated how author Stuart Gibbs made even the tensest parts of the book humorous. I especially enjoyed the suspense created by the twists and turns on every page.

See the full list of book reviews from Time for Kids’ kid reporters here.

TIME Books

The Best Theory About Jon Snow’s Mother

Here's a (spoiler-free) argument that Jon Snow could be heir to the Iron Throne

Whether you’ve read all the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin or just watched HBO’s Game of Thrones TV show, you’ve probably looked for clues as to who Jon Snow’s mother really is. As far as Jon Snow knows, he’s the bastard son of Ned Stark. But some fans thinks Ned lied about Jon’s parentage. Jon may in fact be the son of Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, and the former king, Rhaegar Targaryan. That means that Jon Snow could have even more of a claim to the Iron Throne than Deanerys.

The theory is known online as R+L=J and is elegantly summed up in this video by Alt Shift X. Don’t worry TV-only fans: there are no spoilers for plot lines to come.

 

TIME Rumors

Amazon Appears to Be Testing All-You-Can-Read Kindle Ebook Subscriptions

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 15, 2013. Yasuyoshi Chiba—AFP/Getty Images

The "Kindle Unlimited" plan could include more than 600,000 ebooks for $9.99 per month.

Amazon loves its subscription business models, so it’s no surprise that the company might be testing an unlimited ebook plan.

The so-called “Kindle Unlimited” plan would reportedly cost $9.99 per month. It was first noticed by users on a Kindle forum, and then by GigaOM. Amazon has since wiped most the evidence from its site, but you can still see some of the test pages on Amazon’s site and on Google Cache.

While Amazon already offers ebook rentals as part of Amazon Prime, users can only take out one book per month, and can only read those books on Amazon devices such as Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets. Kindle Unlimited would apparently be available on all devices–including iPads and Android tablets–and would have no reading limits.

Unfortunately, none of the major book publishers seem to be participating, as GigaOM points out. Though there are some smaller publishers on board, many of the titles come from Amazon’s own publishing arm.

Still, some publishers are warming to the idea of ebook subscriptions, with Scribd and Oyster offering all-you-can-read books from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. If Amazon can offer a similar service that integrates with users’ existing Kindle libraries, it could be a hit that shakes up the way people pay for ebooks. But maybe giving more power to Amazon is what publishers are worried about.

TIME Books

Nadine Gordimer: 5 Essential Reads from the Award-Winning Author

Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer on June 12, 1983 in Paris Ulf Andersen—Getty Images

Where to start with the author, who has died at 90

Over the course of more than six decades, the Nobel-winning South Africa author Nadine Gordimer, who died on Sunday at 90, wrote more than a dozen novels and many more short stories. It’s a daunting oeuvre, throughout which she often returned to themes related to apartheid. For those daunted by her extensive bibliography, here’s where to start:

Face to Face

Year: 1949

Gordimer’s first novel was still a few years away, but Face to Face — a collection of short stories — was the young author’s first book.

Telling Times : Writing and Living, 1954-2008

Year: 2010

Telling Times wasn’t Gordimer’s last book (in 2012, her novel No Time Like the Present was published) but it’s the place to look for Gordimer’s nonfiction. The compendium of a half-century of work ranges from autobiography and travelogue to reflections on South African history and the great leaders of her time. The New York Times review of the book said that, even though a collection so vast is bound to have ups and downs, the work “reveals the power of ‘engagement,’ in the broad and humane sense.”

Burger’s Daughter

Year: 1979

One of her best-known works, Burger’s Daughter concerns the life of a young daughter of South African anti-apartheid activists and how politics affects the personal. Along with A World of Strangers and The Late Bourgeois World, it’s one of the three Gordimer works banned by the South African government; Burger’s Daughter was the subject of a 1980 book about that nation’s censorship practices. Gordimer later said that she wasn’t surprised the book was banned, but that “if you are a writer you must write what you see.”

The Conservationist:

Year: 1974

Gordimer won the Booker Prize — one of literature’s most prestigious — for this novel, about a rich South African man who buys a farm in order to find meaning in his life. The work was later shortlisted for the extra-prestigious “Best of the Booker” prize.

Loot

Year: 2003 for the collection of the same name; the story is copyright 1999.

For those who want to read her work right away, this is the way to go: the short story “Loot” is available for free on the Nobel website.

TIME Television

The Strain Moves the Sexy-vs.-Scary Needle for Pop Culture’s Vampires

Fear is back, when it comes to vampires

Graphic by Heather Jones for TIME

It’s been a not-so-fearsome few years for vampires. Thanks to YA fare like Twilight and Vampire Academy, vampires are now the go-to sexy beasts — especially male vampires struggling oh-so-diligently to resist attaching their lips to some lady’s neck. In the pilot of FX’s new show Married, premiering July 17, the vampire-fantasy trope is so established that it’s ripe for parody.

But the reign of sexiness in vampire land just got a serious challenge: The Strain, also from FX, which premiered Sunday.

As James Poniewozik noted in his review of the show for TIME, it’s “an oozy, disgusting vampire drama” full of “gross-out depictions of vampiric biology.” These vamps are meant to be scary, not sexy. So, in honor of the new addition to the vampire canon, we took a look at how some of our favorite bloodsucking shows, movies and books stack up.

TIME Books

Amazon Gave Panelists Talking Points to Answer Questions About Hachette

'Bosch' Photocall At MIPTV 2014 In Cannes
Michael Connelly (L) and 'Bosch' star Titus Welliver (R) pose on April 7, 2014 in Cannes, France. Didier Baverel—WireImage / Getty Images

Amazon Studios has provided its panelists with talking points should the matter be raised

On Saturday, Amazon Studios, Amazon’s original video content production arm, will present its upcoming slate of original programming to the Television Critics Association. That line-up will include Bosch, an adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best-selling series of books about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, which happen to be published by Little, Brown and Company, which is part of Hachette, the media company involved in an ongoing and public dispute with Amazon. The dispute has most noticeably manifested itself in shipping delays for Hachette titles on Amazon, but it looks like the retailer is prepared for Bosch to be another reason for consumers and critics to be curious.

TIME received a copy of the talking points provided by Amazon to the Bosch panelists, with suggested answers for questions about the show as well as about the Hachette dispute. And it looks like any attendee hoping to ask such a question is likely to be disappointed: the creation of Bosch the series has nothing to do with the book’s publisher.

  • For a question about how the dispute has affected the series, the suggested answer is that there has been “zero disruption in Michael [Connelly’s] involvement in the series or our filming schedule.”
  • For a question about personal feelings about the dispute, the suggested answer is “I don’t know the particulars on that situation.”
  • For a question about why Michael Connelly, who is also a co-writer for the show, is not on the panel, the suggested answer is that “scheduling conflicts” are the reason for his absence. (Connelly is scheduled to be at a writer’s conference in New York City this weekend, TIME has confirmed.)

An Amazon spokesperson tells TIME that panelists scheduled to talk about Amazon series — not just the Hachette-adjacent one — were generally provided with such talking points, which is a fairly standard procedure and not surprising. Talking points are commonly designed to help with questions that the participants may not know the answers to; the sample questions are not about creative matters but about details like the way the budget for Amazon shows compares to the budget for shows on a platform like Netflix.

Plus, the sample Q&A provided by Amazon is a suggestion, not a requirement, says the spokesperson. “We’re not trying to tell people what to say,” she said.

TIME Books

Don’t Worry, Brazil. You’ve Still Got a Shot at the Quidditch World Cup

Harry Potter and his crew cheer on once-rival Viktor Krum's Bulgaria

Brazil may have a chance to redeem their 7-1 World Cup loss to Germany—at least in the wizarding world. The Harry Potter fan site Pottermore Friday began live-blogging the Bulgaria-Brazil Quidditch World Cup, with updates from Rita Skeeter and Ginny Potter.

Viktor Krum, Hermione, and Neville Longbottom all make appearances in the updates from Pottermore, where J.K. Rowling released Tuesday a new story about Harry and his friends. While Ginny Potter (who has apparently chosen to take Harry’s name after their marriage) focuses her commentary on the skilled Brazilian chasers, Skeeter’s commentary strays more towards gossip about Dumbledore’s Army.

“Neville Longbottom is already on his feet cheering, even though nothing has really happened yet. Is he drunk?” Skeeter ponders.

And Ron doesn’t seem to have let go of the hard feelings about his now-wife Hermione once dating the Bulgarian seeker Viktor Krum. “Harry Potter is cheering every well-hit Bulgarian Bludger, whereas his supposed best friend Ronald Weasley appears to be gnashing his teeth in chagrin,” Skeeter notes.

Ron (and Brazil) may be in for a relieving ending—the Brazilian Quidditch team led 50-20 as of press time.

TIME movies

Watch: Here’s the Trailer for Reese Witherspoon’s Wild

The film is based on Cheryl Strayed's wildly popular memoir.

+ READ ARTICLE

Reese Witherspoon optioned the rights to the book for her upcoming movie even before it became a New York Times bestseller and was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Now the trailer is out for the film, Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Starring Witherspoon and directed by Dallas Buyers Club’s Jean-Marc Vallée, the film tells the story of Strayed’s 1,100 mile trek to find herself.

Watch Witherspoon play Strayed in the trailer above.

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