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What is Kindle First? Amazon's new service explained

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Want free books a month ahead of release?

Amazon has just launched Kindle First, a new initiative that promises to give Prime subscribers free eBooks, here in the UK. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?

We're always interested in free stuff here at TrustedReviews, so let's take a closer look.

How Kindle First works

Every month, Amazon Publishing editors select four new books from across a spread of popular categories (mystery, thriller, historical fiction etc). It publishes these on the Kindle First section of the Amazon website.

These books make up a selection from which Prime customers can select one for a free download onto a Kindle or a tablet or smartphone running the Kindle app.

Non-Prime members can also join

Even if you don't have a Prime subscription, you can still benefit from Kindle First. You can make the same selection from the same four books, but you'll have to 'buy it now' for 99p, which will automatically sign you up to a monthly email announcing the next Kindle First picks.

99p is still a ridiculously low price for what will invariably be a decent book - especially when you consider the following.

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You get to read them before anyone else

The special thing about these Kindle First selections is that they won't have been officially published elsewhere yet. When you make your selection, you're essentially getting a preview copy a month ahead of everyone else.

Well, everyone who isn't on Kindle First, anyway.

The major publishers aren't on board

None of the Kindle First books to date (it's been running for a year in the US) have come from major publishers. Though Amazon says that its selections are from "best-selling authors," you're unlikely to be picking up the next squillion-selling, celebrity-endorsed, Hollywood-courting page turner here.

That's the only real catch that we can see, though.

How do I choose?

You know we mentioned that the Amazon Publishing editors are involved with the Kindle First book selections? Well those same editors will supply a personal summary of their selections.

Don't expect a dry synopsis of the book's plot. Think instead of the kind of Amazon user reviews you get at the bottom of a listing, only properly written by someone who knows what they're talking about.

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How long do I get to keep it?

Unlike Kindle Unlimited, you get to keep your selected Kindle First eBook forever. It's yours.

Rival services

Perhaps understandably, given the size and reach of Amazon's eBook operation, there's nothing else quite like Kindle First out there. What's more, arguably the closest thing to it is another Amazon initiative.

The aforementioned Kindle Unlimited launched in the UK just the other week. It offers a range of 650,000 books to rent for £7.99 per month. It's kind of like Spotify for books - if Spotify lacked the support of all of the major publishing houses, that is.

Otherwise, neither of Amazon's two biggest eBook-distributing rivals - Apple and Barnes & Noble - have anything like this to offer.

Read More: Amazon Kindle Voyage: 6 features to get excited about

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