Yesterday authors who have books on Amazon received an email to let them know they are offering a new subscription service called Kindle Unlimited.
Today we are excited to introduce Kindle Unlimited--a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. With Kindle Unlimited, customers will be able to read as many book as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles. KDP authors and publishers who enroll their books with U.S. rights in KDP Select are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Inclusion in Kindle Unlimited can help drive discovery of your book, and when your book is accessed and read past 10% you will earn a share of the KDP Select global fund. For the month of July we have added $800,000 to the KDP Select global fund bringing the total to $2 million."
For those who don't know, once upon a time Amazon's KDP Select program was a Godsend for authors, especially for unknown authors. In the beginning, offering a book free equaled many downloads which equaled a nice top spot in the charts once the promotion was over whereby your book became highly visible to the masses. This in turn equaled sales, a nice amount of sales. Then one day Amazon decided it would change its algorithms. No longer would one free copy equal one sale. The buzz is, and I don't have cold hard facts to back this, that it now took ten free downloads to equal the ranking power of one sale. After a promotion ended, the "bounce" became a thud. Many authors, like myself, questioned if it was worth keeping a title in KDP Select. What harm would it be you might ask, and don't you get some royalties if someone borrows the book? Well, the problem is in order to enroll a title in Select your title cannot be sold ANYWHERE else. "Strangely" this exclusivity mandate only applies to independent authors, not big published authors.
A lot of independent authors bailed so Amazon came up with another plan -- offer a new promotion tool -- the Kindle Countdown Deal whereby you can lower your price for five days, say starting at 99 cents for two or three and upping it as the countdown clicked onwards. I never bothered with it so cannot say if it's a successful endeavor or not. I'm guessing probably not so successful as Amazon has come up with yet another plan -- Kindle Unlimited.
Kindle Unlimited is being called by some the Netflix of books. If a reader wants to join this program they pay $9.99 a month and then can "read as many books as they want." But here's some of the fine details...not every single book Amazon carries is enrolled. You can have up to ten titles at a time on your Kindle, which you can keep for as long as you want. If you're a voracious reader this service might be worth the $120 a year. As a reader, I already subscribe to a similar service...it's called my local library, and it's a free service. True, not every book is available for my Kindle, but every book is available in a hard copy. All I have to do is request it.
Now as an author, how do I feel about this new program? First and foremost, unlike the major publishing companies, I would still have to make my books exclusive to Amazon. Now maybe if I was a prolific author and had dozens of books I'd give it a shot, but I'm not. The first book I wrote, Fractured Facade, took years to write and the one I'm presently working on has taken me years to research, and I've just begun writing it. Sure, I could whip out a short story in a week or two, or a monthly erotic novella, but I don't want to.
I have one short story, The Valentine's Day Curse, originally 99 cents, that I was able to make Perma-Free. One might ask, well, why don't you put your short story in Kindle Unlimited? If someone borrows it you can make some cash. True, a borrow on a 99 cent book is worth more than a 35 cent sale. But, if I did that I would have to remove it from everywhere else. My plan has been that if someone likes my short story enough they might seek out my novel and actually buy it for $4.99, the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee, depending upon the size one chooses. It has been a pretty successful idea, (not bestselling top of the chart one) as I've gotten sales from Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. From Amazon? Not so much. I'm beginning to think Kindle readers don't like to part with cash as easily as Nookies and iPeople, and maybe expect every book will become free at some point so they'll just wait it out until it does.
So I have to ask myself, would I get more borrows which would equate to more revenue than if someone actually bought my novel. I don't know. The borrow royalty varies from month to month and is good for a 99 cent short story, but would never be higher than sale of my novel. Of course in order to even get credit for the borrow, the reader has to read at least ten percent, which I hope wouldn't be a problem. But say I had put my full length book in it and the reader was someone who had a problem with an expletive or two, and once they got top the 8% mark was offended by my use of the word F*ck or Bitch, and returned it before they reached the golden 10%, I would get zilch. Oh, and if they were really offended they'd probably would leave a bad review as well which would suck, but has been known to happen. And on the other hand, say they really liked the book and decided they wanted to keep it. They could without paying for it, and still have 9 other slots to borrow books. Believe it or not, there are folks who will only "buy" free books. I'm not one of them, but I also don't have $28 to buy a new hardcover every time one comes out that I want to read. In fact, I will not spend $14.99 on an eBook either. That's just crazy. I hope the author who wrote that book is getting a huge percentage from their publisher, like $10.49 per book which is the 70% Amazon pays in royalty at that price, but I doubt it. Anyway, I digress. So, although I really want to read this book, I will wait for one of two things, whichever comes first...the paperback version, or a free copy from my local library.
Well, there you have it, my thoughts on Kindle Unlimited. Clearly, as a reader I won't be paying $120 a year, and as an author, I won't be enrolling my books, but I'm curious as to what you think, both authors and reader...worth it, or not?
And here's my blatant sales pitch...check the side bar for links to my two books, one of which is free, everywhere.