As you may or may not know, all of my books are available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, but what exactly are Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, and how do you get them? Are they even worth it? And how do you find books to download for free?
In this little blog post I'm going to do my best to guide you through these questions.
What is an Ebook?
An e-book is essentially just a digital version of a print book that you can download to read on your mobile phone, your computer or on a special device designed especially for reading books. Digital books (e-books) are great if you travel a lot or find yourself bored on the train or sat around in a waiting room wishing you had brought something along to read. They are environmentally friendly, and they take up very little space, so you can have hundreds of books stored on your computer at the same time. Some websites allow you to 'borrow' these e-books, whilst other websites allow you to download them and keep them forever (we'll come to this in a moment).
What is a Kindle?
A Kindle is a bit like an iPad or tablet computer, except that it is usually a lot less heavy and the screen has been designed for more comfort whilst reading. The Kindle is a reading device that was designed and marketed by Amazon for the purposes of reading books. It's basically just a device that you can use to read books on. Some devices are even waterproof so that you can enjoy reading your book by the pool or on holiday.
Do you Need a Kindle to Read Kindle Books?
Absolutely not. You can download a free Kindle app to use on your mobile phone or your computer, and this app allows you to read any Kindle book. Once you have the app, you can then download any Kindle book you want and it will stay on the virtual bookshelf on your device until you decide to delete it. Kindle books are made from MOBI files (like a PDF that the Kindle app can read). There are loads of places to find free Kindle or ebooks and you can then use the Kindle app to open the files.
What is Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited is a kind of book club or library, where you pay a monthly subscription in return for access to a large collection of books, that you then 'borrow' to read on your Kindle app or device, before selecting a new one to read. The monthly subscription is currently £7.99 so it can work out a lot cheaper than buying individual books, especially if you read a lot. Unlike when you buy an ebook for a one off fee, with Kindle Unlimited you are instead 'borrowing' the book and once you have finished reading it, the book will disappear from your device. The good thing with this is that it saves space with not having lots of books downloaded to the same reader all the time, the only downside is if you like to make notes on your books as you read them as these will be lost once you give the book back. For most people, this isn't an issue at all.
How do I Know if a Book is in Kindle Unlimited?
If we look at the top 100 best selling cozy mystery books in the image below, we can see that some of the books have the Kindle Unlimited orange and grey branding just above the cover. That means that if we have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, we can download and 'borrow' these books for free. But if we don't have the Kindle Unlimited subscription we will have to pay the individual cost of the book. For example, Loved Up (Nr 71) would be free to download on Kindle Unlimited, or £2.99 to buy.
From the image below, we can see that there are two books not in Kindle Unlimited; Digging Deep (Nr 76) and Pineapple Gingerbread Men (Nr 73). So if we wanted to read these two books, then we only have one option and that is to buy them outright.
How do the Authors Earn their Money?
When an author publishes their ebook, they have two options. Firstly, to put their book into Kindle Unlimited, or secondly, to put their book 'wide' (non-exclusive to Amazon) meaning that they could also put it on places like Google Play, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, not just on Kindle. When an author is in Kindle Unlimited that means that they have made their book exclusively available to Kindle and you won't be able to get the digital version of their book anywhere else at all.
In exchange for making their new book exclusively available to Kindle, Amazon rewards authors by paying them a small fee for every single page that a reader reads. Currently this works out at around $0.00488 (just under half a cent) per page. Amazon calculates page reads not by what we might know as page reads, but as a KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Page) count, a kind of unified metric. So the more popular the book is, the more page reads it gets, and the more money the author will earn, so sometimes the author can be paid more than what they would get if a person simply bought a copy of the digital book instead. For the authors who have the most page reads per month, they can get an All-Stars bonus or award.
How to Show your Favourite Author your Love
If you downloaded an author's book, the best way to show them some love if the book is in Kindle Unlimited, is to go ahead and actually read their book. That way they will receive some royalties for your page reads. The other thing you can do is leave them a review and to tell others about the book if you think those people might enjoy it too. The more page reads your favourite author gets, the better chance they have of other readers finding their books for the first time, and the more money they will be able to earn, which all helps with the costs of things like editing, book cover design, formatting, etc. In the long run, that means better quality, and more free books for you as the reader. If you want Amazon to let you know when that author has a new book out, then it's worth following that author on Amazon too. Like my author page here.
Where do I go to Find Kindle Books, Kindle Unlimited Books, and Free Books?
If you are like me and you love to find new cozy mystery books and to read books of other authors, the best way to find new books is to check out the cozy mystery bestsellers lists on Amazon. You can find the bestseller lists by looking underneath any book to see what category it is in.
Let's take one of Adele Abbot's books as an example. In the first image we see that the book is available at three different prices and formats. The Kindle Unlimited edition is free, the paperback is £7.49, and the audiobook is £16.97. If we look to the box on the right side, we can see that the ebook is also available to buy for £2.99.
Next on the product page, we will see, in this case, a list of other books from the same series, along with the prices and the Kindle Unlimited banner above the image. Sometimes there are similar images of similar books by other authors, or sponsored products where the author has paid to have their book featured next to the particular book you are looking at.
Below this you will find the product details, and at the bottom of these, if the book is currently ranking in the charts, you will see which categories it is ranking for. For this particular book 'Witch is when Life Got Complicated', we can see that it is currently at number 5 for cozy mystery books with a hobby or craft theme, is at number 10 in the bestselling cozy mystery animal books, and it is ranked at position 122 for mystery books with a female sleuth.
To find out which other books are on the bestseller list, we can click on any of the words in the rank, so if we click on 'cozy animal mystery' this is the page we get next:
Sometimes publishers and authors don't have their books in the right categories unfortunately, but on the whole if you love cozy mystery books about animals then the books in this category should be exactly what you are looking for.
These are the bestselling animal cozy mysteries on Amazon right now, and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can click on the image for each of the books with the Kindle Unlimited branding, and borrow them to read for free. There are actually two bestseller lists here, and if you look right below where it says 'BEST SELLERS IN COZY ANIMAL MYSTERY' you will see that it says 'TOP 100 PAID' and 'TOP 100 FREE'. Click on where it says 'TOP 100 FREE' and this is what we get now:
The top 100 bestseller list updates itself every hour or so, and the books are ranked by country, so if you visit the UK Amazon store, the books might be slightly different to the books in the USA store or the Canadian, Indian, Mexican, Australian, or Italian store or whatever, so it's worth checking them all out for even more free books to download.
But basically, you can download all of these books absolutely free, even if you aren't in Kindle Unlimited, and they will be yours to keep forever. The difference is that the author does not get paid per page read as they have given a copy of their book away for free in the hopes that you might read it, and become a fan of their other books. Authors spend a lot of hours creating their books, so don't forget to show them a little love and leave them a review or follow their author page as a thank you.
If a Book is Available for Free, Won't it Be Rubbish?
Totally not the case. These books are exactly the same books that are available in the paid store, in fact most of them are usually around £3.99 or more to purchase as a book. The only difference is that they are on a free promotion for up to 5 days (for Kindle Unlimited), or the author is not exclusive to Amazon and has decided to make the book permanently free so that readers can try out the first book in their series, in the hopes that they will then go on to buy all of the other books in the series. You will that London Lovett does this with her first book in series (Image below).
That's a lot of high quality books you've got to keep you busy with reading, and at zero cost to you!! That's pretty cool when you think about it. Much like when you go to Starbucks or wherever and they have little bit of a cake sliced up so you can try it and see if you like it. If you do, chances are you will want to come back for more!
To download a book on Amazon, simply click on it's cover image, then in the box on the right, click on the button to download the book. It will give you the option to download the book to your computer, mobile phone Kindle app, or tablet computer. Then all you have to do is to open the app and start reading your book.
Personally, I tend to download all 100 of the books when I see them on free promotion, and then I check back in from time to time to see if there are any other new books that I don't yet have. That way I always have books stored on my computer or phone to read when I get the chance, and they don't ever expire.
Finding Kindle, Free, and Kindle Unlimited Books Using the Search Bar
The other way to find books to read on Kindle is to use Amazon's search bar at the top of the page. You can either scroll down to 'KINDLE STORE' or you can type into the search bar and it will suggest the common things that people have searched for, like 'FREE BOOKS', or 'FREE KINDLE UNLIMITED BOOKS'.
Can I Try Kindle Unlimited for Free to See if I Like it?
Yes you can. Amazon offers a 30 day free trial so that you can see how you get on. And if you don't like it then you just cancel before the paid subscription (£7.99 a month in the UK) starts. You can get all of my books on Kindle Unlimited so it could be a good way to get them all for free, along with loads of other books, and magazines too. Don't forget that you will need to sign up for your own country's Amazon store though, so if you are in the USA you will need to get an Amazon.com account not a UK account, but once you are set up you can continue to download books even if you are travelling to another country. There are load of books for children, adults, young adults, across all genres as well as non-fiction and self help books, revision books for exams, and fiction books.
I Know I Don't Need a Kindle to Read Kindle Books on, But I've Got a Birthday Coming Up and I'd Like to Have a Dedicated Reading Device. Are they Very Expensive to Buy?
KINDLE FIRE £39.99
This is the lowest entry point, but is great value for a Kindle reader and comes in a few different colour covers. You can also access Alexa on it, watch Netflix videos, check your Facebook, Twitter, etc. Brilliant if you are on the move a lot, or if you want to get your kids into reading Kindle books without the worry of them breaking something really expensive.
This Kindle doesn't have the other distractions of Facebook, etc, and is more tailored to reading only. It has the added benefit of a low light screen for bedtime reading, and feels a bit more like reading a regular book.
Kindle Paperwhite £99.99
This is the next level up, though to be honest I don't know what the extra features are compared to the £59.99 version (which also includes Audible for audiobooks unlike this one).
Kindle Oasis £229.99
The Kindle Oasis is the first waterproof Kindle, which makes it great for cruises and beach holidays. All of the Kindles have anti glare screens, and this one in particular has great battery life and you can listen to your Audible audiobooks on it too.
So there we have it. Hopefully that has answered some of your Kindle related questions. Happy reading!
Call For Submissions
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Limited Edition Books For Collectors
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Sarah Jane Weldon