You’ll have to forgive me for yet another post about Amazon Kindle in quick succession. I’ve been working on some other updates and more theological posts about disciple-making for my blog which I’ll get around to this week. With the timing of the new Kindle Unlimited service, I couldn’t resist the urge to post real quick about it and then get back to my other planned writings.
I found out about it on Thursday as a rumour, but then on Friday they actually launched it. For those visiting my blog for the first time, I’m a Kindle author as well as blogger. I’ve got 6 non-fiction titles published on the platform. Seven if you count the Spanish translation of one of them.
As an avid reader, I love the concept of a service like this. However, there are some tweaks to be made, such as the expanding the currently limited selection, which has only 600,000 titles available out of the millions they sell. Apparently none of the major publishers have signed yet off on this, so the books you may be looking for aren’t likely in it yet.
This is not necessarily a problem, though. Back in 2011, Amazon began making a selection of movies and TV episodes available for free to its Prime members. At the time, the free only service had 5,000 videos but has since been expanded to more than 40,000 and Amazon has even commissioned original shows for Prime.
They are now becoming a formidable alternative to Netflix with not just content selection but original programming for streaming and download. I even know a few missionaries who have recommended getting a Prime membership for the movies Netflix doesn’t have the rights to but Amazon does.
On the other hand…
As an author who’s got books on KDP Select that have been grandfathered into Kindle Unlimited, I’m a little disappointed and worried.
When an author’s book is enrolled in KDP Select, it’s eligible for borrows. Amazon Prime members can borrow one book per month that is included in their program, and most KDP Select books (aka, indie books by self-pubbed authors) as well as a few other well-known author’s books are included in the pool of selections.
Kindle Unlimited boasts having “unlimited access to books” for a $9.99/month fee. But a friend of mine posted in an author’s group I’m a part of that you only in fact have access to ten titles (see the photo below):
So, “unlimited” is a bit of a relative term, eh?
But here’s the deal. With the average book costing between $7.99 and $9.99 USD, which is still often times half the price of a Christian paperback you could get for retail price, having an KU membership is still the equivalent of buying one book per month and getting 10 if you so please.
Does the average Kindle user read that many books a month? I don’t think so, since I am quite a speed reader, and I don’t read that many.
The value of the membership would be worth it if Kindle Unlimited wasn’t littered with a lot of books priced only a few dollars — at least that’s what I found when I went looking through niches I typically read.
So, if the only books available are $2.99 books that only take a few hours to read, then a membership might not really save you all that much money. I’ve already heard lots of people say that they weren’t able to find many books they wanted to read. Like I said a moment ago, I believe this will change in time like the video selection did for Amazon Prime users over the years.
However, the royalty an author gets if their book is borrowed in KU or Prime is pretty abysmal compared to if their book is purchased. If a book is borrowed, they receive between $1.80 and $2.20 USD per title, depending on how much money is in the KDP Select fund that month. There’s no promise an author won’t start getting smaller royalties.
Side note: I recommend reading my previous post, Why Your Favorite Indie Authors Only Publish On Amazon for an idea of why some of us feel no other choice but to join KDP Select in the first place.
Meanwhile, if a book is purchased and they are receiving 70% royalties on their title, it is not so big of a deal if their books are already priced around $2.99, which may explain to readers why they see so many books in that price range in Prime and KU. But those of us who have projects that are normally priced $9.99, giving us a $7 royalty when the book is purchased, only receive two bucks if the book is borrowed. I guess that’s better than nothing.
For that reason I can see one of a few bad outcomes with this:
- Either authors don’t like getting short-changed and un-enroll their books from KDP Select, giving readers a worse selection to choose from (if the big publisher continue to not allow their traditional published books to be accessed in this subscription model) or,
- More and more indie authors start churning out three and four-dollar books that readers don’t find worth joining a $10/month paid subscription service for.
It’s too early to tell, and I could be wrong, but from looking at it as both a reader and an author, those are my immediate thoughts. Amazon will have to significantly expand their selection in order for a lot of Kindle users to find this worthwhile. Which leads to my next point.
Other Kindle Unlimited Perks:
- It has 2,000 audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible business. They’re synchronized to the corresponding books, so if you need to break off reading and resort to listening instead, you can have the audiobook play, starting where you left off reading.
- For the first three months of your subscription, you can choose one additional audiobook per month from Audible’s larger catalog. You get to keep these books even if you cancel your subscription.
- Thirty day free trial
What are your thoughts? Is this something you’d want to join? Do you think it will flop? Are you an author and planning on taking your books out of KDP Select?