Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kindle Unlimited - Is it Worth Your Homeschooling Curriculum Money?

Yesterday I wrote about the subscription book service Scribd. Today I'm talking about another subscription book service - the new kid on the block: Kindle Unlimited.

Again, with Kindle Unlimited, you can try it free for a month. To be honest, when I began the free trial, I didn't really have any expectation that we would keep the subscription. After all, we already use a book subscription service that I love (Scribd). Actually, we are still in our free trial month, but I won't give up my subscription to Kindle Unlimited - no way. In our first 3 weeks, my kids and I have read at least 25 books that we wouldn't otherwise have gotten to read. I'll break it down by kid and explain why the books would have been out of reach.

Therese (13) loves Carolyn Meyer. Not all of her books are available on Kindle Unlimited, but several that Therese hasn't read are, including this one:

To answer the obvious question, yes - you can get all of Carolyn Meyer's books at the library. However, as I discussed yesterday, the library and I have a love-hate relationship. They love my late fines and I hate to pay them. Also, popular authors like Carolyn Meyer are often all checked out. Yes, I can and do put holds on the books. Then I watch as they expire. Right now she's reading A Night to Remember.

Michael (9) reads *very* fast. Hence, I can't check enough books out of the library to keep him "fed." Further, he was spending a fair amount of allowance on books both at Amazon (for his Kindle) and at Half Price Books. Like me, he was always make a cost-benefit analysis. A book had to be long enough for him to be willing to pay for it. Short books can be read in half an hour to an hour, so it didn't matter how much you wanted to read them - they weren't worth the cash. HOWEVER, in the past few weeks, he has been able to plow through a ton of short (and, yes, silly) books that he never would have been able to read. Because he reads plenty of literature and serious books, I don't mind at all that he has read more than a dozen books by Marcus Emerson (he has also read the ones I show for MC):

Nicky (11) has also been reading through this series, although more slowly. He has also read several of the books I'll show below.

Mary-Catherine (9) has read pretty much all of the above, plus the following. She is now working on Cheaper by the Dozen (please tell me that everyone knows that that is a book and not a mind numbingly stupid movie with Ashton Kutcher - in fact, it was a delightful movie with Myrna Loy) with Belles on their Toes on deck.

The Julia Golding book is actually the first in a quartet, all of which are available on Kindle Unlimited.

So my kids are reading. A lot. For 3 out of 4 of them, that's not big news, but for Nicholas it is. He's not a big reader, but he is big on technology. Hence, the more he can read on his Kindle, the more he wants to read. Also, having such a huge choice set really motivates him. I don't know if he would have read Tom Sawyer in paperback form, but it was a lot less intimidating on the Kindle. I'm sure being able to adjust the font size really helped!

Okay, so you can read a bunch of books on Kindle Unlimited. Can you do anything else? I'm glad you asked :-) Some of my readers may know that I have an I currently have 1,125 audiobooks in my Audible library (if you want to know how I have acquired so many, I can do a separate blog post - I have been an Audible member for 7 years). Well, for the past several years, Amazon has owned Audible (which has only made my problem worse - oh, Whispersync - you temptress!). In terms of Kindle Unlimited, this relationship means wonderful things for members. Now, the audio version of the books is not available for all of the Kindle Unlimited books, but it is available for thousands of them. Then, for thousands more, you can add the audio version for a reduced price (usually $1.99-$3.99). For many people, adding professional narration means simply activating the ability to have the book read to you by a professional narrator, but what it *should* mean to you is getting the Audible audiobook free (or close to it)! 

The best thing you can possibly see when browsing for Kindle Unlimited books is shown below (where it says Kindle Unlimited with narration):

That means that for as long as you have the book out, you will have the audiobook, too! When your return the book, the audio goes with it. The audiobook plays on the Audible app, which is free on all devices. It also plays right on your Kindle. If, however, you pay for a reduced narration, you get to keep that audiobook. I LOVE that option. I am a fool for audiobooks (um, duh!). They have gotten me through many a migraine and they keep my insomniac kids company. They are also a great homeschooling tool in and of themselves (SPOLIER ALERT - that's tomorrow's post).

This is a homeschooling post, so I hesitate to add my own experience with Kindle Unlimited, but in case there are moms out there who would benefit, I will.

There is a publisher (with whom I was previously familiar through Net Galley) called Open Road Media who is bringing back out of print and hard to find books. I LOVE this publisher. I love them even more because they participate in Kindle Unlimited! When I was a kid, there were authors (those popular authors of the 1970s and 1980s) I remember lying around my house. My parents were ALWAYS reading. Some of what they read was much more highbrow than others of what they read (Irving Stone vs. Irving Wallace!), but I was delighted to see those authors on Kindle Unlimited. Here's a sampling of what I have in my "KU Wishlist" on Amazon (you can have up to 10 books out at a time, so as I browse I add things to my wishlist so I won't forget them):

  • Harold Robbins
  • Helen van Slyke
  • Arthur Hailey
  • Janet Dailey
  • Barbara Taylor Bradford
  • John Jakes
  • Irwin Shaw
  • Eileen Goudge
  • Cynthia Freeman
  • Howard Fast

Then there are more recent authors that I have either read or always planned to read (heavy on Tudor history here):

  • RF Delderfield (okay - definitely not recent, but so up my alley)
  • Susan Higgenbotham
  • Edith Pargeter
  • Margaret Campbell Barnes
  • Ellen Jones (The Fatal Crown was one of my favorite books ever when I was much younger -- now I can read the rest of the series!)

Then there are those super guilty pleasures...the entire Perry Mason and The Saint series! I was in about 5th grade when I read every Perry Mason book I could get my hands on, but I've only read a couple of Saint books. These are the kind of books I would never pay for because I can read them in less than an hour. That's the curse (I am NOT complaining) of reading hate to buy books because they don't last. Now I don't have to. 

So when people say, "I don't need Kindle Unlimited - I already have it: it's called the library," I understand why they might think what they are saying is true, but it's really not. I could go on and on about what is available on KU that is not available at the library (for nostalgia's sake, does anyone remember all those Lois Duncan books from the mid 80s -- before she was only "Hotel for Dogs"? I mean the really scary ones? Yep - Kindle Unlimited (and definitely not at the library last time I checked).

So, explicitly homeschool? Maybe, maybe not. I have not yet begun to plumb the depths (although there are TONS of Newberry books there). It's definitely all about reading, though, and so I thought it worthy of this Blog Hop. I'd love to hear about any gems y'all find on Kindle Unlimited! And don't forget to click the banner below to see what everyone else is doing for "Back to Homeschool!"

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

Again today, here are nine blogs for you to check out!
Group 3
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy
Crystal @ Tidbits of Experience
Rebecca @ Raventhreads
Jennifer @  Milk & Honey Mommy
Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Monique @ Living Life and Learning
Erin @ For Him and My Family
Lisa @ A Rup Life
Beth @ Weavings


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