Kindle Unlimited Review: Personal Finance and Investing Books

kindleu2Amazon has just announced Amazon Unlimited, an eBook and audiobook subscription service that costs $9.99 a month (30-day free trial) and not included in Amazon Prime. They claim over 600,000 titles in their library, although that number is padded by a lot of little-known self-published eBooks. “Thousands” of those books come with free audiobook versions. You can read unlimited books (max 10 out at once) and on any Kindle app (Windows, Mac, web browser, iPhone/iPad, Android, etc).

It’s a library card with 24/7 instant availability, but how well-stocked is this virtual library?

My personal reading habits include mainly business, personal improvement, and finance books. I compiled a list of notable books that I have read or want to read first, and then checked if Amazon Unlimited had it. I’m also including the findings from my Oyster review (a competing eBook app) for comparison purposes.

Book Oyster.com Amazon Unlimited
William Bernstein’s Recommended Reading List for Young Investors
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. Yes No
Common Sense on Mutual Funds by Jack Bogle. Yes No
Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation by Edward Chancellor. No No
The Great Depression: A Diary by Benjamin Roth. Yes No
Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig. Yes No
How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street by Allan Roth. Yes No
All About Asset Allocation by Rick Ferri. No No
5 Recent Bestsellers
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. No Yes
Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen. No No
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. No No
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty. No Yes
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. No No
5 Personal Favorite Financial Books
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. No No
Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement by Robert Clyatt. Yes No
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. No No
The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein. No No
A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel. No No

 
* Oyster catalog checked June 2014 and Amazon Unlimited checked July 2014.

Recap

In the “major publisher, popular, well-reviewed” category, Oyster wins hands-down. AmazonUnlimited reportedly does not have any of the major “Big 5″ publishers (they are not BFFs right now). In the “recent business bestseller” category, neither is great but Amazon actually has a slightly better showing. Many of Michael Lewis’s other books are also on AmazonUnlimited (The Big Short, Liar’s Poker, The Blind Side). In the “niche DIY early retirement personal finance nerd” category, again neither does great although Oyster technically wins by a nose.

Bottom line: Amazon Unlimited has a relatively limited catalog for personal finance enthusiasts.

Keep in mind that the Amazon Kindle Owner’s Lending Library still exists (at least for now) and boasts 500,000+ titles (again padded by self-published eBooks). The Kindle Lending Library is free if you already have both a Kindle (any model) and an Amazon Prime subscription. You can only read on a Kindle device though, and you only get one title per month.

There are some promising titles available if you dig around, for example I noticed that William Bernstein’s “Investing for Adults” series of books (The Ages of the Investor, Skating Where the Puck Was, Deep Risk, and Rational Expectations so far) are all available with both Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library.

Personally, I might sign-up for the free trial and read whatever books I can during that window and maybe it’ll spill over for a month (though you can cancel now and still enjoy you free month without worry of auto-bill), but I can’t see myself paying $120 a year for a limited selection of books (that interest me) that I can’t keep forever.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. I got so excited when I saw the kindle unlimited promo, but then I started wondering how limiting it was. After having used the lending library, I figured there’d be a lot of “padding” in those 600,000 titles.

  2. I wish they offered a subscription to all Audible books… Currently many can access greater number of digital audiobooks and ebooks from local library from the comfort of their homes. My property taxes pay $100 a year to the local library system so it’s like I already pay a subscription fee and I better use it!

  3. Really wish the freaking regular android kindle app did the text to speech like the old school regular kindle does. I’d actually buy books if I could listen to them. I know you can buy actual audiobooks, but they’re usually like 20-30+ bucks, instead of 5-10 like a kindle book is. The text-to-speech isn’t as good, but it’s still usable, and I like listening in the car during my daily commute.

  4. Amazon is not what they used to be. They used to be fantastic market disruptor but now they seem to have lost their way. Their prices are not all that impressive anymore and I now find myself typically finding better deals at walmart.com. The amazon phone that they hyped was a let down for most, particularly with its expensive price. The nexus 7 is regarded by most to be a much better bang for buck tablet than the kindle fire (even with amazon making the lame move of blocking amazon prime video from all other android devices other than their own). Their music streaming service seems to be inferior to pandora from what I can tell and their new book service does not seem to be much better. To top it off, they raised the price on amazon prime. I just couldn’t justify renewing my amazon prime subscription as amazon seems to be heading in the direction of being a lame company living off its former reputation.

    As a side note, I deliberately had an expired credit card listed under my amazon prime auto-renewal because I did not see an option to cancel auto-renew, only to cancel amazon prime altogether. When it came to my auto-renew date, Amazon used a different credit card that was active in my account to renew. Once I realized this upon reviewing my credit card statement they did refund my money, but this does not seem like a move that the amazon of a few years ago would have done

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