When you boot up a new Amazon Kindle device, you’ll be offered a short free trial to Amazon’s literary subscription service Kindle Unlimited and, since it’s free, it’s likely you’ll accept. Then you’ll either renew, and continue to enjoy the service, or decide instead to buy your own books from here on.
However, you may not realize if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber (as many, many people are) there’s actually a secondary service that might be of use to you – Amazon Prime Reading.
Amazon Prime Reading isn’t exactly one of the company’s flagship services, and it’s certainly not as well-known as Prime Video, Prime Music or the Prime shopping benefits. But if you’re an avid reader, of magazines or comic books as well as novels and poetry, it may be for you.
So what is Amazon Prime Reading?
Amazon Prime Reading is a repository of books, both new and old, popular and exclusive, fiction and non-fiction. There’s also a collection of comic books and magazines. You can see the whole list here (it also differs depending on where you live) but we’ll run you through the highlights.
The collection of novels (and poetry) is the bulk of Amazon Prime Reading. There are loads of popular books – the first two Harry Potter books are there in the UK – non-fiction texts, dramas, romance novels and more.
There’s a series of Amazon Original Story texts on the service – these are works from authors whom Amazon has commissioned for exclusive books for the service.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Prime Reading is its huge series of Classics, with a huge number of classic novels and poems from different time periods and regions. There are Austen novels, Shakespeare plays, transcendentalism essays, philosophical works and more.
Sure, most of these classics are in the public domain, and therefore your access to them isn’t a huge perk, but the accessibility of them here makes them worth considering. For translated works, we’ve also always found the translations to be top-notch.
Not into classic texts? We’d recommend giving them a try anyway. If you like them, you’ve discovered something new, and if not, you’ll at least be better position to explain why you don’t like other works.
Great for Kindle users, then…
Amazon Prime Reading is great for Kindle users who don’t want to spend more money on new books, but it doesn’t only benefit people who own an Amazon ereader.
There’s a Kindle iOS and Android app that works similar to the actual devices, and this lets you read texts on your smartphone or tablet. Sure enough Prime Reading works on the app, so you can peruse a selection of popular reads from your personal device.
You can even read the texts on your computer from the Amazon website, thanks to its Kindle Cloud Reader, so if you don’t own any other device beyond a computer, you can still use Prime Reading (though we’re not totally sure you exist).
There is one catch, and that’s that you can only have 10 Amazon Prime Reading books downloaded to your device at once – for most people, who like reading one thing at a time, that isn’t an issue. However, people going on holiday, students studying various texts at once, or reading commitment-phobes might find themselves restricted by this.
Amazon Prime Reading seems best suited to people rediscovering their love of reading – it doesn’t always contain the newest books, and arguably there are some classics missing. But if you’re not the kind of person who always picks up new releases, or has a particular niche they’re attached to, it’s great.
You might be using your Amazon Prime membership for something else, like streaming shows on Prime Video or getting next-day shopping delivery, and if that’s you Prime Reading is a free extra you can easily make the most of.
If Amazon Prime Reading does get you turning pages again, that’s great – according to Healthline reading has been linked to reduced stress, better sleep, improved brain connections and a much gooder vocabulary.
And if you decide to read more through Prime Reading, don’t forget that local and independent book sellers have been struggling in the Covid-19 pandemic, and they often have great selections of works you wouldn’t find elsewhere. We’ve also got a list of the best Amazon alternatives, which includes bookstores.