In the last few weeks I’ve been reading up on Kindle Unlimited and its competitors — Scribd and Oyster are the big ones. This interesting comparison of lending libraries tends to favour Scribd. But I’m backing Kindle Unlimited.
I love short stories and novellas. When they’re well-written, they give all the emotional punch of full length books, but let me enjoy a complete story and the happy ever after in a stolen hour. And life is so busy, now.
It seems to me that Kindle Unlimited is emerging as a place to find these short stories — and at a price that compares very favourably with the magazine market, which has been the traditional home of short stories and novellas. $9.99 a month really is a magazine subscription price, or it is in Australia (if only I could get Kindle Unlimited). But the bonus is that as a reader, you get to choose the stories!
For authors, Kindle Unlimited has major implications. For a start, so much of it is outside our control, including what Amazon pays us per borrow. Okay, that’s my credit card talking 🙂 Of wider interest is the fact that a number of big name authors who participated in the launch of Kindle Unlimited have withdrawn their work and are publicly talking about the big hit they took in declining income. HM Ward in “KU crushed my sales” has said it was as high as a 75% drop in income. Ouch.
But I’m not a big name author, and readers don’t know that my stories are reliably good reads. So the gamble I’m taking is that in among all this uncertainty and rumour (which always runs rife when facts are few), Amazon will back up Kindle Unlimited by favouring in its algorithms authors with books in the lending library. There’s also the potential game-changer recently announced where Amazon is bundling buying a new kindle with six months subscription to Kindle Unlimited. That means a lot of new eyes on Kindle Unlimited as Christmas-gifted kindles are switched on.
The latest pay-out per book borrowed to authors was $1.33. This has declined every month since Kindle Unlimited started, and I expect it will continue declining. For short stories, I don’t think that matters so much. My short stories are priced at $0.99 anyway. I can take a fair hit on that if it’s balanced with increased visibility to readers. However, if your work is full length novels that generally sell $4.99 and up, the hit is substantial and may be a case of simply including the first book in a series in Kindle Unlimited to engage readers — and there we hit an Amazon exclusivity snag.
To have your books in Kindle Unlimited (unless you’re a big name author) you can’t sell your books anywhere other than Amazon. That is a big drawback. Readers want to read on different platforms and buy at places other than Amazon. For short stories, I’m not so fussed. I’m crossing all fingers that Kindle Unlimited becomes THE place to read short stories. But for longer-length work, yeah. It’s a different calculation.
This has been a long post and still hasn’t covered half the issues raised by Kindle Unlimited and other book subscription services. I’ve heard a rumour that Scribd wants to position itself as the place to borrow romance books. Romance readers are voracious so I get Scribd’s motivation. To that end, Scribd has a one year exclusive with Harlequin, and 15,000 titles.
What else have you heard? What do you think of subscription services for books, as a reader and/or as an author? Do you have any grand plans or are you ignoring the fuss?
My books, novellas and short stories available in Kindle Unlimited:
Indulge: Sensual Tales of Steampunk and Fantasy
Dare. Sensual Tales of Fantasy and Suspense
Curses and Confetti
and coming Dec 17, Demon Hunter