kindle unlimitedI am two weeks into my Kindle Unlimited free trial, and already, I am noticing that this service is having the same effect on me that Netflix had on my TV and movie viewing—I am caring less about consuming media that isn’t there.

Let me give you an example. When I moved in with the Beloved, I convinced him to give up cable. And, aside from the live sports issue (which he has just corrected by buying himself an subscription for his birthday) he hasn’t missed it. At the time, there were two cable shows we did watch (The Big Bang Theory and Celebrity Apprentice) and we made an effort to watch them online via network television websites. And then…well, they just kind of faded out for us. We stopped remembering they were on. We developed a Netflix habit, and we have so far always managed to find something. And maybe it isn’t Celebrity Apprentice, specifically, but really, is there so much of a difference between that unavailable show, and Ink Master, or Iron Chef, or Pawn Stars?

And now, I see it happening with the books. I get a lot of library stuff, and most of it is surprisingly interchangeable. So, the J.D. Robb books are my current ‘Big Bang Theory/Celebrity Apprentice’ and I am still making an effort to seek those out if there is a new one anytime soon. But most of the rest of my reading is coming from what is on Kindle Unlimited. It’s not that I am pre-choosing a book and seeking it out specially. It’s that I am perusing the available options and picking from what’s there.

It’s making books convenient, but it’s making them a lot less precious too. I can download something, read a chapter or two and decide its not for me. Five minutes later, it’s gone and forgotten. No downloading, like I did when I bought stuff. No painstaking importing, tagging and processing via Calibre. It’s here today, gone tomorrow. So far, I have found maybe one book I would care enough to read again. But I am okay with that, to my surprise. I am okay with reading it, being done and moving on. It’s the difference between owning a TV series (or several) on DVD to watch over and over again versus consuming twenty times the content via Netflix, where owning and storing the disks is not an issue.

So is this a good development in my reading life, or a bad one?I’m still not sure. But I know that this is the future of media. One day, our children will find it hilarious that Mom used to spend time downloading books and storing them on her computer. Books will be like the radio. Like Netflix. Like any other media service. You just consume, enjoy and move on, working through an ever-evolving catalogue of never-ending borrows.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Ah, but you’re happy because you’re normal. You read because you enjoy reading and your tastes are wide enough to be easily satisfied.

    Availability of specific books matters immensely for the chattering classes whose salon-like culture insists that they must read specific, fashionable and often expensive new books as soon as they come out. That is so they can join in the chorus of what someone has aptly termed “the herd of independent minds.”

    That’s where the fuss on ebook versus hardback and paperback availability has been centered. Publishers can reap huge rewards if one of their books makes it on that must-read list and want to milk it for all the profit they can. That means shaping releases in various formats.

    It’s also why that New York federal court’s settlement against the major publishers made a huge distinction in the payout for books that made the NYT’s bestseller list versus those who didn’t. To someone who doesn’t live in that world, the distinction seems silly beyond belief.

    So pity those who read not because they enjoy or want to learn but because their subculture insists that they must read the right books in order to have fashionable opinions. They’re the ones who obsess over the availability of particular books. Typically possessing more money than sense, profiting from their compulsions drives much Manhattan-based publishing.

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