July 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

Amazon rolls out 'Netflix-for-books' style service

Amazon is allowing unlimited Kindle access to thousands of electronic books and audiobooks for $9.99 a month. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

New York — Amazon is rolling out a new subscription service that will allow unlimited access to thousands of electronic books and audiobooks for $9.99 a month in the online giant’s latest effort to attract more users.

The largest U.S. e-commerce site said Friday that the Kindle Unlimited service will give users the ability to read as much as they want from more than 600,000 Kindle titles such as “The Hunger Games” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” They can also listen as much as they like to thousands of Audible audiobooks, including “Water for Elephants.”

The service will offer about 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, which lets users switch between reading and listening to books. Subscribers will get a free three-month membership to the broader Audible service, which has 150,000 titles.

Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial to entice users to try the service. The move is a switch from Amazon’s latest efforts, which have largely focused on adding services to its Prime loyalty program. But Kindle Unlimited is for anyone with a Kindle device or app.

Americans have a growing appetite for e-books. In the U.S., 79 million people will use e-book readers in 2014, up nearly 9 percent from 72 million in 2013, according to eMarketer. People age 45 to 54 are the biggest readers of e-books this year.

Amazon’s move comes at an uneasy time for the company and its relationship with publishers, because it has been in a public squabble with Hachette over e-book prices. Amazon did not disclose the terms it worked out with publishers who are part of Kindle Unlimited.

Some major publishers aren’t involved. Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster confirmed they are not part of the service, while Penguin Random House declined to comment. Macmillan did not respond to a query for comment.

Still, the service offers a selection of high-profile titles, including the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the “Harry Potter” series and classics like Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” and George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

The subscription service is accessible via Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps.