Amazon brought its Prime subscription service to India in 2016. In the beginning, it was only limited to Prime benefits like free shipping, early access to deals at Amazon.in. Soon, Prime Video and then Prime Music were also added to the Amazon Prime Package for Indian consumers. And now, the Prime Reading service has arrived in India too. Like Prime Video and Music, this service is bundled with the Prime subscription and does not cost anything extra to users.
What is Prime Reading:
Prime Reading offers a selection of paid ebooks that Prime subscribers can download for free. The books offered through Prime Reading include several bestselling and popular books in various categories like Literature and Fiction, Self Help, Books in Indian Languages etc. Books offered in Prime Reading can be accessed on Kindle devices, free Kindle apps, as well as Kindle Cloud Reader. Just go to the Kindle Store and look for the Prime Reading section.
Prime Reading vs. Kindle Unlimited:
Prime Reading is different from Kindle Unlimited. KU is a separate subscription service. At present, its subscription fee in India starts from Rs. 150 per month. Prime Reading, on the other hand, is a free service include in Amazon’s Prime package. At present the Prime subscription in India is Rs. 129 per month or Rs. 999 per year. So, in terms of cost, PR is definitely cheaper than KU.
Kindle Unlimited has a bigger selection of books than Prime Reading. Kindle Unlimited has over 1 million books that subscribers can download and read for free. Whereas, Prime Reading has a selection of just about a thousand books. This selection keeps changing on periodic basis.
Price of Free:
Kindle Unlimited as well as Prime Reading offer free ebooks to book lovers. There are websites and newsletters that advertise various free ebook deals on Amazon and other ebook retailers. Several other services also let authors host giveaways to distribute free ebooks. Seeing the popularity of free ebooks, numerous authors are hosting such giveaways and at any given day, millions of ebooks are available for free download.
However, nothing in this world is really free. In terms of free ebooks too, although the readers are saving money, there is someone who is incurring loss. That is, the authors. Authors who spend months, even years, in developing books. No author wishes to give away his or her book for free. But they have to. Because numerous others are doing it. With such a large number of books available for free download, it has become so much harder for new authors to get readers attracted to their books. Worst of all is that even books that are downloaded for free face the problem of being downloaded, but not read. Readers download many free ebooks, and then some more. But not all of them are read. More often, they are dumped into the to-read pile and then forgotten.
The problem of free-loading is not just troubling the book market. We have become just too habitual of getting things for free. We want free smartphone apps, free software, free music, free movies and TV shows. Our love for freebies is so obvious that it is easily exploited by the politicians too. Hence, the promises of free laptops, smartphones, free water and electricity, politician’s favourite quota system, and newly popular ‘loan waivers’ for farmers. Nobody stops to think that a freebie too comes at a cost. You may not be paying it, but somebody else is.
Is Prime Reading Good or Not?
Now that Prime Reading is available in India, it means good news for readers. It is also good news for the few lucky authors whose books get included in the program. But not so much for large number of remaining authors. Most titles included in Prime Reading are those that are already popular. When they get available for free, readers have little interest in browsing for newer and lesser known books. As a result, lesser known books and authors suffer.
So, while the reader and book lover in me is applauding the entry of Prime Reading in India. The author in me is not so sure that it’s a good thing.
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