Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s latest offering to grab readers
Innovative or predatory? That’s two conflicting views being held by some about Amazon’s new service for customers–the subscription-based Kindle Unlimited service. For $9.99 per month readers get unlimited access to Kindle Unlimited titles, with no due/return dates.
So how does it work and what are the benefits, if any?
Well, to answer that, let’s look at it from two sides: from the reader’s viewpoint and from the author/publisher who uploaded it to Amazon.
THE READER’S SIDE
1) You pay $9.99 per month.
2) You can download up to ten titles at any one time onto your Kindle account software/devices.
3) There’s no due/return dates, but if you want access to more than ten books, you have to “return” titles to Amazon from your account first.
4) If you end your subscription, all titles will be removed from your account.
5) You are only able to access titles that authors/publishers have enrolled into the KDP Select.
6) You can only access books published in the US with US rights.
THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER’S SIDE
1) Any titles you have enrolled, or will enroll, in KDP Select with US rights are available for the Kindle Unlimited service.
2) You receive no direct payment for titles accessed, but any title accessed by more than 10% of the ebook will count towards your eligibility for payment from the KDP Select fund for that month. At the moment there is no way to even estimate how many books would have to be accessed by more than 10% in order to receive any sort of payment from the KDP Select fund.
3) Only the first time a customer reads past 10% will count. [If the same customer reads the book a second time, that won’t count.]
4) Even if you remove your book from KDP Select, anyone who had acquired it already and still had it in their account will still be able to read it, even months later. If that happens, Amazon says it will count towards KDP Select (although it’s unclear how, if any, payment would be calculated for a title no longer in KDP Select).
So, who is the winner out of all this, the reader or the author/publisher? I say NEITHER. It’s Amazon! They are raking in $10 every month from subscribers.
All this serves to do is get Amazon more “loyal” customers. Amazon has done a lot of good for the publishing industry, especially for small publishers and self-published authors, but this “service” only serves them and here’s why:
a) Amazon doesn’t put in their promotional hype for the program that readers are 99.9% unlikely to have access to the books of any popular midlist author or national best-selling author published by the major publishing houses since they steer well clear of Amazon’s KDP Select program–as do some (but not all) small and indie pub houses.
b) If the reader ends the subscription, they have no access to any books they may have had.
c) Authors/Publishers who enroll books in KDP Select have absolutely no way of knowing what they might be able to earn through this program. It is very possible, as it currently is with KDP Select enrollment, for books to be accessed by readers hundreds and hundreds of times and see nothing in return from the KDP Select fund.
Kindle “Unlimited” promises much, but in actual fact it is very limited in what it can offer readers in the way of accessible books, and authors/publishers in the way of viable compensation. They may say that the fund is “$x-millions this month,” but vast numbers of authors/publishers see little proportionate return for what is an incredible amount of downloads, and I see nothing in Kindle Unlimited that promises to improve that. Amazon knows how to use ebooks for their own ends, and they use schemes like these purely to entice customers to come and stay with Amazon.
We’ll be staying well clear of Kindle Unlimited, and by direct association, KDP Select.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Are you a reader planning to use Kindle Unlimited? We would love to hear your opinion.
Are you an author/publisher with books in KDP Select? Does the fact that these will be used for Kindle Unlimited change your view?
Are you an author/publisher considering enrollment into KDP Select and thinks Kindle Unlimited will work for you? Tell us why.
Jim Brown is the founder/owner of JimandZetta.com providing customized publishing services for individual authors and publishing companies since 2008. He has personally converted over 8,000 manuscripts into various ebook formats. Jim has been a publisher of ebooks since 2003 with his publishing houses LL-Publications and Logical-Lust Publications. Former secretary, and vice president of EPIC (the Electronically Published Internet Coalition), in addition to his publisher services, Jim is available for guest blogs, speaking events, and industry consultation.