How To

How Does Kindle Unlimited Work? The Basics And Beyond

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Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

Among the many services and subscriptions offered by Amazon, one that should pique the interest of avid readers is Kindle Unlimited. But with all the different ways we can get and consume our books nowadays, it can be hard to keep track and weigh the pros and cons of the services that are out there. Today, I’m here to help answer the question: How does Kindle Unlimited work (and is it right for you)?

The Basics: How Does Kindle Unlimited Work?

  • Subscribing to Kindle Unlimited will give you free access to over a million Kindle titles, which include ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines.
  • Kindle Unlimited titles can be read on any Amazon device or Kindle app.
  • You can borrow titles as often as you want with no due dates, and can keep up to ten at a time.

If this all sounds good to you so far (and why shouldn’t it?!), let’s get into some of the grittier details.

An image of a hand holding a kindle at the opening of a tent in the mountains

What do you need to be able to use Kindle Unlimited?

All you need is an Amazon account with a valid credit card, and to have 1-Click payment enabled. And since Kindle Unlimited is accessible via the Kindle app (available for iOS, Android, Mac, or PC), you don’t even need a Kindle device!

To enable 1-Click:

  • Under “Your Account,” go to “Your Content and Devices.”
how does kindle unlimited work

  • Click the “Preferences” tab.
  • Set up your 1-Click payment method under the first heading, “Digital Payment Settings.”

Is Kindle Unlimited free for Prime members?

No. Kindle Unlimited is a separate subscription service from Amazon Prime, which also means it is not necessary to be a Prime member to get Kindle Unlimited.

There is a different borrowing service that IS free and exclusive to Prime members in the United States, called Prime Reading, that is similar but offers a much smaller library of content than Kindle Unlimited (over 1,000 titles available through Prime Reading versus over 4,000,000 titles available through Kindle Unlimited). You can learn more about Prime Reading vs. Kindle Unlimited here.

How much is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is $11.99 per month. Additionally, there is a free one-month trial option so you can test out the waters before putting in any financial commitment: Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans!

If you’re interested in gifting a Kindle Unlimited subscription to friends or loved ones, pre-paid gift plans for six, 12, and 24 months are also available.

Now that you’ve set up your subscription, here’s how you can get reading!

How To Browse Kindle Unlimited books

  • To browse available titles, you navigate directly to the Kindle Unlimited catalog from the sidebar menu on the Amazon home page. You can find it by clicking “Kindle E-readers & Books” under the “Digital Content and Devices” section, or by clicking “Books” under the “Shop By Department” section.
  • You can also just browse the store as you normally would, and you will see the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles.
  • On the product detail page of eligible items, you will find a separate Kindle Unlimited box above the other purchasing options. Click “Read for Free” (or “Read with Kindle Unlimited” if you’re not looking at the Kindle edition specifically) to borrow the title through Kindle Unlimited.

Returning Kindle Unlimited books

  • Under “Your Account,” go to “Your Kindle Unlimited.”
how does kindle unlimited work
  • You will see a list of “Your Borrowed Items,” which keeps track of how many of your allotted ten items you have at any given time. Click “Return” on the title you wish to return.
how does kindle unlimited work

How To Find Kindle Unlimited Audiobooks

  • Some Kindle Unlimited books come with a free audiobook companion. This is indicated by a headphone mark next to the Kindle Unlimited logo on the product detail page.
  • If the Kindle Unlimited title you choose has a free audiobook companion, it will automatically be available to access from your compatible Amazon device, Kindle app, or Audible app.
  • These can sometimes be a little trickier to find, so if you need a jumping off point, look no further than this list of the 50 best Kindle Unlimited audiobooks!

How Does Kindle Unlimited Work on the app?

You can also browse and manage your Kindle Unlimited items very easily on the Kindle app. (Note: The iOS app is being used here, but the Android and PC apps should be similar.)

  • From the “Discover” tab, select “Kindle Unlimited.”
how does kindle unlimited work
  • Here, you can browse and borrow Kindle Unlimited items, or select “Manage your titles.”
how does kindle unlimited work
  • To borrow an item, select the title you’re interested in and then select “Add to Library.”
how does kindle unlimited work
  • If you went to “Manage your titles,” you can see the list of items you’ve borrowed and have the option to return them.
how does kindle unlimited work

How do you cancel Kindle Unlimited?

So you didn’t love it? No worries! Not everything works for everyone. You can cancel your Kindle Unlimited subscription very easily at any time. When you do, you will retain your benefits until the next billing date. If you are canceling a pre-paid subscription, however, the cancellation will be effective immediately, and partial refunds for any unused months will not be given (you also cannot restart it at a later date).

To cancel:

  • On the “Your Kindle Unlimited” page, there is a “Manage Membership” box with the option to “Cancel Kindle Unlimited Membership.”
  • The subsequent page will inform you how much longer your benefits will remain active, and you can choose to either “Keep my membership” or “Cancel membership.”
  • When you end your membership, you should receive email confirmation of the cancellation.
  • If you want to continue Kindle Unlimited again in the future, go back to the “Your Kindle Unlimited” page. There will be an option to “Continue Kindle Unlimited Membership” in the “Manage Membership” box.

Trying to decide whether or not to sign up for Kindle Unlimited? Check out Kindle Unlimited Pricing: Is it Worth it? or weight your options with Kobo Plus Review: Is This the Best Kindle Unlimited Alternative?