Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some thoughts on the new Kindle Unlimited

I've had this on my mind because Amazon is the leader in ebooks and 60% of my sales come from them. There, I've exposed some personal information.

I like Amazon. What they've done to change the landscape of publishing is a boon for everyone. They gave authors a choice of not having to live with publisher rejection and readers a wider array of books to suit their tastes. What's not to like?

What I have to say is only my opinion and my personal preference.

I do not believe that the Select program is good for all books, but I have seen how it has helped some authors. To be part of the new Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 monthly fee for all the kindle books you want to read, as far as I understand it), an author has to opt-in to say that Amazon will have their book exclusively for 90 day periods (after which they can pull them out).

As I stated above, Amazon brings in about 60% of my sales currently, but my books are available across multiple retailers. If I pulled them all to go exclusive with Amazon (a requirement to enroll in Select), I'd be cutting off a lot of potential readers. I like Barnes and Noble--my kids and I shop there on occasion and I also have a Nook. I have a Kindle too, plus smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. on which I can read books from any retailer I want using their software or Adobe Digital Editions.

As an author, I don't have any intention of cutting off 40% of my readers and potential readers just because of a deal at one that may or may not increase my sales, particularly when it involves a flat, shared amount. My books range in price from $.99 on up to $9.99 (omnibus edition of Dark Angel Chronicles). I'd either be cutting off my income or increasing it, depending on what price a particular ebook is. For shorter works, I can see the benefit of being exclusive, and in that I may try it on the Adronis books.

And I'll bet a lot of authors will be considering the same thing. I can see the KU program becoming a short-story to novella mixture rather than novels that could be making more outside of the program.

As a reader, I don't read enough to make $9.99 a month worthwhile. I tend to read more nonfiction and, due to the nature of what I've been studying, I like to have the print book on hand for that. I rarely buy books by the big publishers. If I read one or two indie books a month at $2.99-$4.99, I'm better off paying the individual rates for the books and saving a few bucks, plus the authors earn more. However, If I was interested in reading something from big publishers, $9.99 for unlimited books that normally cost that much or more would be a sweet deal. Throw in a few indie books on the side and I'd still be coming out ahead.

KU can be a benefit to some or a money sink to others. Consider the cost-benefits to you as either an author or a reader, or both.

With it just unrolled, I think a lot of people will give KU a try and many authors not in the program may suffer a slump in sales for a few months, and going into end-of-summer and fall, that's a terrible time for a slump on top of the usual slump. I cringe and wonder how bad it will be but I also realize that some people will realize that it isn't worth their money, as the books they want aren't included or they aren't reading enough to justify the fee. Yes, I try to stay optimistic, but I've also been wrong.

There are no absolutes for authors or readers. As an author, we have our readership and financial situations to consider. As a reader, it's an economic and selection choice.


  1. I think KU has some potential too, but I also don't enroll anything into KDP Select. Mostly because while most of my sale come from them also, I believe in encouraging competition. And giving an exclusive for the group that is in the top kind of goes against my stated principals.

    I like the idea, but I'd probably point people at Scribd or Oyster for "all you can read".

    If I keep on this Game On diet, I can easily burn through $10/month worth of books. But, I've been picking them up via Story Bundle and direct from authors lately, mainly because I think that is the best way to do it. Of course, it means I don't have the discoverability that Amazon provides, but I actually think Amazon's collection is getting too large that it is hard to shone, both finding reading and writing for it.

    1. If Amazon didn't require exclusivity, it would be easier to accept. I've read plenty of indie author comments/blogs elsewhere to realize I'm not alone in my feelings about this.