Have you heard about Amazon’s new book subscription service titled Kindle Unlimited? For $9.99 a month you can download and read Kindle ebooks and audio books to your heart’s content. Basically it’s like Netflix for readers and to me it’s a great deal for readers. The cost per month is basically the expense of two ebooks and if you are a voracious reader like myself, then it makes total sense.
But is Kindle Unlimited great for authors? Since the program just launched, I’m not going to make a rash judgement. I’m actually taking the wait and see approach and watch my sales reports and see if I notice any significant difference. Indie Authors enrolled in Kindle Unlimited will make a flat fee of $2 for every read of their book. Readers need to read at least 10% of the book in order for the read to “count” as a borrow. While traditional authors are included in Kindle Unlimited without restriction, I’m pretty sure that Indie Authors have to be enrolled in KDP select in order to take advantage of the program. That’s why I’m testing the program out with only one of my titles.
I really like what author Hugh Howey had to say about the program and his early observations:
Amazon can’t twitch without indies taking notice. For a brief period yesterday morning, a landing page for a new Amazon streaming service appeared online. A thread at KBoards exploded with the news (are the KBoard forums the best watchdog, author community, and training center all rolled into one, or what?), and then Engadget, Time, and others followed with coverage of their own.
Author and all-around awesome dude Jan Strnad wrote up one of the first detailed opinion pieces about the service, and I share some of his concerns. Subscription services have been rough on musicians. Will they be rough on authors? It’s too soon to tell, but there are a couple ways that books are fundamentally different than music, and perhaps reasons to be cautiously optimistic.
The biggest difference between books and tunes is the time investment. You spend hours, days, even weeks with a good book. You can stream hundreds of tunes in the same amount of time. So hopefully the revenue stream to authors won’t be as diluted as it is for musicians. It also sounds like Amazon has increased the funding for the borrow pool, and I’m guessing profit from the $9.99 monthly fee will go toward funding this program as well, so if they can keep the rate-per-read at $2 or get it higher, this could be a great source of revenue for authors.
Another way that this could be good is the same way that piracy can be good: Exposure. I’m reading a great book right now that my mom handed to me after she read it. Do authors freak out over this common occurrence? I don’t. I want to be read. I hope people pass my books along. The new and shiny aspects of anything will scare some and excite others, and that’s normal. In the last day, I’ve heard from some indie authors a lot smarter than me that we’re about to see our income go up. I’ve also heard from some indie authors a lot smarter than me that this is the end of the world. In a few months or a year, we’ll have a better grasp on how this will play out.
To read the rest of Hugh’s article click here.
What do you think about Amazon’s new book lending program, Kindle Unlimited? Are you in or are you out?