Friday, July 18, 2014

Kindle Unlimited and the end of roylaties



Today amazon announced Kindle Unlimited, a Netflix-like subscription program that gives readers access to 600,000 e-books, 2,000 audible books and a variety of other minor other perks for a total price of $9.99/mo. 

 "Enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audio-books on any device for just $9.99 a month."

The news is great for readers, of course.  But for independent authors (and potentially all authors) ...that's a different story.  With Kindle Unlimited, a new club has just been formed and the price for admittance is exclusivity.  Because, my dear friends, exclusivity is wonderful when you are the owner of that exclusive property, not when you are the entity owned.  

As far as this club goes, being outside of the club is bad (terrible visibility and the fact that someone will have to pay outside a subscription for you to make a sale) and being in the club is not much better (loss of control over revenue per book; phasing out the royalty system) 

This seems like a great idea for amazon but my two cents is that really it will not survive in the long run.  Let's analyze this: first, as a KDP Select author, you are trapped in the KDP Select $ pool.  The size of the $ pool is controlled 100% by amazon and changes monthly.  And then comes the juicy part: more total readers of the books included in the pool, less money per author.  Now that spells out brilliance ...or  not. 

This program seems to be a desperate measure on amazon's part to offset some of the pressure that's building in the industry due to others (oyster, etc) migrating to a subscription model.  It doesn't seem that the KDP Unlimited business model is well thought through in its many details and implications. If anything, it lowers the $ amazon pays each individual author/publisher and it smartly gets itself (itself being amazon) our of obligation to pay contractually-enforced royalties. 

Let's hope KDP Select reflects just one of amazon's growing pains.  Let's hope it's temporary.  Let's hope amazon identifies and hires a more inspired (pray for a visionary one) long-term strategist in its Corporate ranks.