Amazon announced Kindle Unlimited, a new service that gives unlimited access to 600.000 books for $9.99/month.
The number sounds impressive, but even reading 1% of those books is close to a utopia. Underestimating and assuming that reading a book takes 1 day, reading 6.000 will take about 16 years. Moreover, so many choices can lead to SADD (Streaming Attention Deficit Disorder) - instead of reading a book from beginning to end, the reader gives up part way up and picks a new one, hoping to find something more exciting. This is a behavior observed only when the cost of change is less than the expected gain. In this case the cost is 0 (if you exclude the monthly fee) so surfing from book to book is extremely easy.
However, I’ve got excited while reading about the new service because it might help me save some money. Therefore, I’ve decided to do some math and figure out if this service is a good deal for me.
I like to read books and I do it in a particular way:
- I only have one active book at a time. Otherwise, I cannot focus.
- I do not buy books in advance unless they are on a great sale (75%+ discount).
- I never start a new book until I finish the current one, unless it is really, really bad.
- I don’t use audiobooks. The Amazon service includes them as part of the subscription.
For the calculation I am going to use the books that I read in the last 31 months (since Jan 2012). I’ve listed the books that I read in 2012 and 2013 but I am also giving a sneak peek into the books I read in 2014. What interests me is if the new Amazon service is a better deal for me than buying individual books. The rational buyer’s decision is very simple: if the cost of this new service is less than the cost of not having it then it is worth buying.
The table below shows the books that I read in the last 31 months. The price in the “Price today” column represents how much the book costs now (7/18/2014). The price in the “Paid” column is what I actually paid for that particular book. I paid less than the normal price for some of the books because I got them on discount or even for free from the public library.
* Free = free book on Amazon. Prime = lent through Amazon Prime. Library = lent from the public library. Paperback = bought the physical book.
** The prices don’t include taxes
As you can see I spent $172.32 for all the books I read in the last 31 months. The Kindle Unlimited services is $310 for the same period. My average spending per month was ~$5.55. Also, in none of the two full years I’ve spent more than the cost of the yearly subscription.
Simply said getting the Amazon Kindle Unlimited service is not a rational decision for me and, for the time being, I will not subscribe to it.