July 18, 2014 8:33 am

Amazon unveils unlimited reading service for Kindle users

AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof

NEW YORK – Amazon is rolling out a new subscription service that will allow unlimited access to thousands of electronic books and audiobooks for $9.99 a month in the online giant’s latest effort to expand its services to attract more users.

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The company said Friday that the Kindle Unlimited service will give users the ability to read as much as they want from more than 600,000 Kindle titles such as “The Hunger Games” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” They can also listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, including “Water for Elephants.”

About 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, which lets users switch between reading and listening to books, will be available through the service. Subscribers will get a free three-month membership to the broader Audible service, which has 150,000 titles.

Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial to entice users to try the service. The move is a switch from Amazon’s latest efforts, which have all been about adding services to its Prime loyalty program. The company has recently launched a video streaming box and grocery delivery service, unveiled plans for a smartphone and expanded its Sunday delivery service, all for members of Prime. But Kindle Unlimited is for anyone with a Kindle device or app who wants to subscribe.

READ MORE: Amazon launches music streaming for Prime members

The move comes at an uneasy time for Amazon and its relationship with publishers, because it has been in a public squabble with Hachette over e-book prices. The terms that Amazon worked out with the publishers who are part of Kindle Unlimited was not disclosed.

Seattle-based Amazon is not the first company to offer a “Netflix for books”-style monthly service: Scribd offers a service for $8.99 a month for access to 400,000 books. Oyster offers 500,000 books for $9.95 a month. Both services offer HarperCollins books, among other publishers.

But Amazon is the biggest company to roll out the service and has the advantage of having a dedicated base of users through its Kindle devices and Kindle app, which runs on most wireless devices.

A Kindle Unlimited logo will be attached to eligible titles. The subscription service is available beginning Friday and is accessible via Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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