Amazon has added a new perk to its $99-a-year Prime membership scheme: free comics, magazines, short stories, and ebooks. Announced today, Amazon Prime Reading gives US customers access to "over a thousand popular books," including The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and The Man In the High Castle. Unlike the earlier Kindle Owner's Lending Library, these books can be read without Amazon hardware using the Kindle app on iOS and Android. It also covers magazines including National Geographic Traveler, Popular Mechanics, and Sports Illustrated, and comics such as Peanuts and Transformers. There are some good names here, but overall the selection looks limited.
This is, of course, just the latest bit of added value for Amazon Prime. Although the service is primarily beneficial for its free shipping, Amazon has added its music streaming library, on-demand TV and films, photo storage, and even ad-free access to its game streaming service, Twitch. The addition of Prime Reading is similar to the service's Audible Channels perk — a free version of its full-fat Audible membership, offering a limited selection of audiobooks. Customers can upgrade to a full $14.95-a-month Audible subscription if they like, and Amazon may be hoping Prime Reading will have a similar effect, encouraging sales of its $10-a-month Kindle Unlimited service.