Friday, July 18, 2014

My Two Cents on Kindle Unlimited

As an author as well as a reader, I received two notices on the new Kindle Unlimited program Amazon has started—one for each side of the coin. Here is my two cents which may not be worth a plug nickel.

For the author, the benefits promoted include:

  1. All books enrolled in KDP Select with U.S. rights will be automatically included in Kindle Unlimited. 
  2. KDP Select authors and publishers will earn a share of the KDP Select global fund each time a customer accesses their book from Kindle Unlimited and reads more than 10% of their book (the first time only)-–about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books-–as opposed to a payout when the book is simply downloaded. 
  3. KDP Select books will also continue to be enrolled in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. 
  4. Amazon has added $800,000 to the pay-out fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.

For the reader, the benefits include:

  1.  Readers who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited may choose from a library of over 600,000 titles.
  2. Unlimited free reading and unlimited listening on any Amazon compatible device. 
  3. Right now, the first 30 days is free and the monthly fee thereafter is $9.99. But, if you don’t continue the plan, what you have downloaded will be removed from your account. 
  4. It boasts “Popular titles” as well as what they recommend for the reader based on past purchases. They featured a bunch of glitzy books from big-name authors--you know, the same 50 you see when you go to a book store.

Here is where I found information lacking:  Can you download more than one title at a time? Or, do you need to wait until you finish and send back a title you are reading (or started, but decided it wasn’t worth finishing) before you can download another title?

And—tah-dah! Here is my two cents.

  1. As an author, how do I know what I will earn from my books as part of this program? The July fund may be $2 million, but if Amazon giveth, it can also taketh away. Right now, if I sell a book for $2.99, I know I’m going to earn 70% of the sale. Under this vague “monthly fund” plan, I don’t know if I would get $2.00 or $.20 or two cents per book read. 
  2. It appears to me that Amazon is pushing the big-name books and authors to attract readers to this plan. This plan looks like it will mainly benefit the major publishers who are selling the Kindle versions of their books for anywhere from $6.00 to $12.00 and who maybe don't like to be passed over by readers who resist paying more than one to three dollars for a book. There are a lot more good writers out there than what agents can represent and big publishers can accept. I have a feeling that we lesser-known authors who are either self-published or with small publishers will find ourselves having a harder time attracting readers for our books under this program. 
  3. Anyone who enrolls their books in the KDP Select plan, and, now by extension,  Kindle Unlimited, is not allowed to offer their books through any other venders. Once in, contractually Amazon owns and controls lock, stock and barrel. In the past, I have enrolled my digital books in the KDP Select plan. Other than making it easy to set up a discount campaign to attract buyers, I can’t see where it did me that much good. On the other hand, my Nook readers were not happy that they had to wait 90 days for me to quit the plan before I could offer my book through Barnes & Noble.
  4. Yet, if I don't cut out my Nook readers and enroll in this program, Kindle Unlimited readers will pass over my books rather than buy them on top of the monthly fee. After all, with over 600,000 titles to choose from, why should they go out of their way to buy my book?

The jury is still out, but at this point, as an author, I’m not favorably impressed with the Kindle Unlimited plan. As a reader, it would depend on whether or not I could download AND KEEP on my Kindle the titles I want to read until I actually have time to get around to reading them. I don’t like thinking I have a particular book only to find out it has “mysteriously disappeared.”

What are your thoughts on the new Kindle Unlimited plan? Do you also have your reservations? Or, do you think it will be a boon for writers and readers alike?