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Amazon Prime Reading: will you ever need to buy a book or magazine again?

Kindle Paperwhite
Could this reKindle our love for eBooks?

We keep reading that print books are experiencing something of a vinyl-like renaissance. Amazon Prime Reading might just tempt you to dust down the Kindle, however.

Prime Reading is another free batch of content for Prime subscribers, joining the video and music they’re already spoonfed. The service allows you to ‘borrow’ up to ten books or magazines from Amazon’s collection at any one time. There’s no (apparent) limit on what you can read – you can smash your way through their entire digital bookshelves and magazine racks, as long as you ‘return’ an item before ‘borrowing’ a new one when you reach the ten-item limit.

This is entirely separate to Kindle Unlimited – a £7.99 per month service that gives you access to a library of books, audiobooks and magazines. It’s also a separate initiative from Kindle First, which allows Prime subscribers to download one free book a month from up-and-coming authors. Confusing, eh?

Getting your books

So how do you borrow stuff from Amazon Prime Reading and what’s available? If you go to the Kindle Store section of the Amazon UK website, you’ll see a link for Prime Reading running along the top of the screen.

Amazon Prime Reading
Potter and PC Pro? What more could you want

Here you’ll find a catalogue of titles to choose from, although don’t think you’re getting access to everything in the Kindle Store – it seems you’re limited to a selection of around 1,000 books and magazines of variable quality.

Is it all complete guff? Absolutely not. I’m currently thumbing my way through The Etymologicon, which is an entertaining, QI-style romp through the history of words and phrases. There’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for those who take an unhealthy interest in kids pretending to be wizards; there’s the autobikeography of cycling couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny; and there are lots of Lonely Planet guides to various countries if you’re taking your Kindle on your travels. To be sure, there’s an awful lot of fluff and nonsense in there too: those hoping Nadine Dorries makes a better novelist than politician will be sorely disappointed if the first few pages of her nursing novel are anything to go by.

On the magazine shelves, there are plenty of decent titles to choose from. Time Magazine and The Week for those who like to digest their politics; Esquire and Vogue for those who want to check if their sandals are still de rigueur; Wired and none other than PC Pro – the organ edited and written by the two founders of this very website – are available for techies.

PC Pro
Hang on… I recognise that dashing young columnist

Which devices?

Once you’ve chosen to download a title, it can (normally) be downloaded to any of your devices: Kindle readers, smartphones and tablets with the Kindle app, or the Kindle app for PCs and Macs.

Some magazine (such as PC Pro) or graphic book titles are only available as scanned pages, and so can’t be beamed down to Kindles. Some offer both page-flipper and plain text options. Download Time on your iPad for instance, and you can switch views between the page scans and plain text and pictures, which is certainly easier to read.

There’s no limit to the number of devices you can download content to, and you can, of course, pick up from where you left off as you move from device to device.

Never buy a book again?

Will Prime Reading mean you never have to buy a book or magazine ever again? The library is quite limited and you’ll almost certainly struggle if you’re hunting for works from a particular author. That said, I’m off on holiday the week after next, and I’ve already stuffed my Kindle with half a dozen books and magazines that I’m keen to plough through.

It may not rival The British Library, but as an extra perk for Prime subscribers, it will certainly drag me back into Amazon’s keep net.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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