Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Thoughts On The New Kindle Unlimited Changes

Let’s see…what can I talk about this time?

How about…the new and improved Kindle Unlimited?

If you haven’t heard, Amazon has changed its method of payment for authors that are in Kindle Unlimited. Instead of a flat rate all across the board, they’re now paying by page read.

Initially, I had dismissed this as flummery, to steal a word from Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. But, I began thinking about it.

With the original setup of a flat fee for a “borrow”, I avoided joining for a couple of months. When I did join Select, and Amazon lowered the fee paid to KU members to around $1.33, I discovered that I was losing money big time by leaving my novels in the program, and I felt guilty about earning more for a short story than if I had sold a copy. I pulled everything out of KU, and swore that I wouldn’t return.

Now, with a “pay-per-page” rate that makes all things equal between my short stories and my novels, I’m going “all-in” again.

Being in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select means that I have to keep my regular eBooks exclusive to Amazon. My translations into other languages can be everywhere – they aren’t exclusive. Print editions and audiobooks (remind me one day to say what I think about audiobooks) are not exclusive, either.

But, you, the reader, can get around that. Here’s how:

If you own an Apple iPad or iPhone, or if you own a Samsung tablet or phone, or any of the many brands other than an outright Kindle reader or tablet, there’s an app you can download for Amazon’s Kindle. You probably won’t be able to buy a book through the app – you’ll have to use your Internet browser and go to the full site for that – but you can sure read books purchased through Amazon on that app.

And, presto, you’ve got a workaround for an Amazon-exclusive story. Nothing to it.

Now, back to my thinking about how this might be a better deal for me, as an author.

There are certain college libraries that have my print books on the shelves. Now, when they purchased those print books, of course I received a royalty on each of those titles…plus the knowledge that my fiction is on library shelves. That royalty on those print editions is all I will ever be paid for those copies, no matter how many people read those copies.

But, if you look at Kindle Unlimited as a “lending library” in which the subscriber pays a monthly fee and “borrows” however many stories he/she can read each month, and you realize that you get paid for each page of that borrow that the reader reads, the potential income for an author for a story that isn’t purchased outright is substantial.

Granted, there are authors that were making a killing on “borrows” in Kindle Unlimited under the old plan. And it’s highly unfair of Amazon to give higher visibility to books that are part of Kindle Unlimited and Select instead of using a strict sales measurement. Exclusivity is also a pain in the arse, but, with the workarounds, a reader can still obtain books from Amazon, even using another device.

I know, I know – these are things that the average reader doesn’t see, and it isn’t anything the average reader cares about. But, on certain message boards and comments on certain author blogs have been running hot, with personal attacks against those in favor of the changes, when it’s totally a business decision for each author! Fellow author Hugh Howey has borne the brunt of these attacks, and I feel for him.

That is a result of allowing emotions to dictate your business decisions.

My stories, at least for 90 days, will be in Kindle Unlimited and Amazon-exclusive. I hope my readers will follow.

I’ll see you there, as you…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

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