The author community is buzzing with the latest news about Kindle Unlimited (KU). A $9.99 a month program Amazon released a few days ago where readers can borrow an unlimited number of ebooks (though they can only keep ten at a time).
From a reader’s standpoint it’s not a bad deal. It gives them the opportunity to try out books they might not have otherwise and if they don’t like them? They can return them, never to see those works muddy their Kindle again. If they do like them, they may even go on to pick up more from the author. Amazon has managed to include some well-known titles in an effort to expand the selection (currently at 600,000) and tempt readers into giving the program a chance. Having said that, you’ll still find more than a few favorites not available.
For independent authors, there is a good reason their books may not be there. Most self-published novels (with a few exceptions) are required to be exclusive to Amazon if they want their book in KU. What exactly does that mean? An author must pull their participating ebooks from all other retailers so that the only place they can be found is Amazon. For some writers this isn’t a big deal, but for others it is asking a lot.
There is also the question of how much an author can earn within the program. As it stands now, a short story will earn the same as a full-length novel for each borrow. No one is quite sure how much that will be, but estimates are as low as 30 cents a download (after the reader passes the first ten percent of the book). This gives less incentive for authors to put their longer works into the pool. In fact, it may give rise to a greater number of serial books where it would require more downloads to get the entire story, thereby earning the author more money.
I know some of you may choose to sign up for KU and I do think that’s great. Heck, I’ve considered it myself as a reader and may give it a shot. For now, though, I won’t be putting any of my own books into the program. There seems to be a lot of kinks that still need to be worked out and I’m not interested in limiting my work to just one retailer. I do have fans who prefer Nook, Kobo, or iTunes and I don’t want to force them to make a decision as to how to obtain my books…or not.
How things play out in the future I cannot say. I might write a stand-alone novel that I feel is a good fit for KU or I might experiment on something with other urban fantasy authors for a different kind of work. But for the Sensor Series (and any of the shorter spin-offs), it’s going to be staying out unless some of my concerns are alleviated. Particularly the exclusivity factor.
I hope that this doesn’t inconvenience any Amazon readers who decide to try KU and that they will continue to pick up the Sensor books as they release. If you’ve got your own thoughts on the new program, feel free to leave a comment below. I am curious to hear what others think.
This is good sense.
I can see a some advantage to putting a prequel novella on the KU program for instance, or, as you say, split books up into smaller parts.
It’s a hard call. The whole indie segment of the market wouldn’t exist if not for Amazon. They have done amazing things. But, hey, they didn’t do it for us and handing exclusivity over is the tipping point.
I agree, Mark. The one hard part about staying out of the program is it is already hurting us to do so. The authors with books in KU are currently reporting a boost in their ranking every time they get a borrow (see the kboards forum).
Normally my weekend sales go up, especially Sundays. Instead I’m seeing a drop as well as a slide down the rankings. If things don’t level off it could make it much harder for those of us outside KU to reach new readers.
It’s the exclusivity element that really chaps me, though.
Thanks for explaining the new program from an author’s point of view.
You’re welcome, Shana 🙂
As an avid reader I am gung ho on this new Amazon feature. I have been burned so many times with books by unfamiliar authors with good reviews. To be able to try a book by a new author and not have to worry about wasting money is a good thing.
It won’t prevent me from paying for books by my favorite authors.
I might suggest that authors with a large catalog put some of their older releases on KU to attract new readers.
Good luck. I do enjoy your books and will pay for them.
I agree, Kathie, that the potential for this service could be really great. Particularly for avid readers. I don’t have anything I can put in there at the moment, but I might come up with something later down the line.
Glad you enjoy the books 🙂