WSJ says Public Library beats Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, yep

Years ago I used to buy 1-2 kindle books a month.  Now I buy a kindle book 2-3 times a year.  Why the change?  Reading less.  No reading more with 4-8 books a month going through my kindle.  I stopped buying books and started checking books out from the Public library.  Not physical books, but kindle books.


I can check out a book at no charge for 3 weeks.  I figured if I don’t read a book in three weeks my probability of reading the book in future is less than 10%.

WSJ posts on its own analysis of Amazon Kindle Unlimited and they say the public library is better too.

A growing stack of companies would like you to pay a monthly fee to read e-books, just like you subscribe to NetflixNFLX -0.30% to binge on movies and TV shows.

Don't bother. Go sign up for a public library card instead.

Really, the public library? Amazon.comAMZN -0.34% recently launched Kindle Unlimited, a $10-per-month service offering loans of 600,000 e-books. Startups called Oyster and Scribd offer something similar. It isn't very often that a musty old institution can hold its own against tech disrupters.

But it turns out librarians haven't just been sitting around shushing people while the Internet drove them into irrelevance. More than 90% of American public libraries have amassed e-book collections you can read on your iPad, and often even on a Kindle. You don't have to walk into a branch or risk an overdue fine. And they're totally free.

And guess what the public library has more selection than unlimited.

Though you still have to deal with due dates, hold lists and occasionally clumsy software, libraries, at least for now, have one killer feature that the others don't: e-books you actually want to read.

To compare, I dug up best-seller lists, as well as best-of lists compiled by authors and critics. Then I searched for those e-books in Kindle Unlimited, Oyster and Scribd alongside my local San Francisco Public Library. To rule out big-city bias, I also checked the much smaller library where I grew up in Richland County, S.C.

Of the Journal's 20 most recent best-selling e-books in fiction and nonfiction, Amazon's Kindle Unlimited has none—no "Fifty Shades of Grey," no "The Fault in Our Stars." Scribd and Oyster each have a paltry three. But the San Francisco library has 15, and my South Carolina library has 11.

Go to this graph the WSJ created to get the comparison and you can see your public library has a good chance to beat the paid unlimited services.  Oh by the way, you do pay for the library through your property taxes.