Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Look at Kindle Unlimited

What is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is an ebook subscription service presented by Amazon. This isn't a new idea. There are several other subscription services that have been available for a while now, and have quite a bit of funding behind them. This service is a bit different from the others. Let's take a look at some of the features of this service.
  • Price: $9.99
  • Selection: Over 600,000 books
  • Audiobooks: Several of the books available through this service are also available in audiobook format through Audible
  • Amount of books: Unlimited up to 10 at a time
  • App: Available through any device that supports the Kindle app
  • Free Trial: 30 day free trial

What makes this service different from the others available?

Not a whole lot to be honest. You can read my previous post exploring the other subscription services that are available here: Here's a list of the biggest differences between Kindle Unlimited and these other services:
  • The inclusion of audiobooks
  • A direct path for self published authors to make their books available to this service through KDP
  • The selection of books contains mostly self published works along with works from several smaller publishers
  • The selection of books does not currently contain any books from the big 5 publishers
  • The distribution of the Kindle app. It's available on just about every mobile device
  • The backing of the Amazon targeted marketing machine

What does it mean for readers?

A few of my friends signed up for this as soon as they got the email from Amazon, and instantly fell in love with it. They complained that some of the books on their "to read" list weren't available, but they moved on to pick up several other books that looked interesting to them. It didn't slow them down much. They didn't seem to know anything about the other subscription services that are available. Kudos to the power of Amazon's marketing. It also shows, in spite of the large amounts of funding, that the other subscription services haven't been successful in getting the word out.

Those who read tons of books are going to love this service. It won't matter that the selection doesn't include many A list titles from the biggest publishers. They will still purchase those books, but will likely miss out on many mid-list books they would have normally purchased otherwise. Instead they will most likely spend that time reading books published by smaller presses or via KDP that are available via Kindle Unlimited.

What does it mean for authors?

It's not clear what this service might mean for authors. Some authors are running around proclaiming that the sky is falling, but it doesn't seem like that is the case. Some others are looking at it as potentially another revenue stream which it most certainly is, but the real mystery is "how much?". It still isn't clear what the royalty payout will be for authors in this deal.

How this service effects visibility for authors is another matter. This gives authors another incentive to publish through KDP. It won't be worth it for authors who have an established following outside of Amazon. Those authors can still publish their shorter works (the ones with smaller revenue stream) through KDP to take advantage of the visibility that this service may provide. It may help other first time self published authors gain visibility that they would not otherwise have. Their book may still be a needle in a haystack, but it's a much smaller haystack.

One last thing

Today July 19, 2014 is the last day to sign up to be eligible for my $20 Amazon Giftcard giveaway. To enter you just need to sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Sign up for the newsletter here:
More information here:
If you're interested in Kindle Unlimited here's the link:

I'm leaving to go on vacation to visit relatives in a few hours. I will try to be active on instagram and twitter, but I'm not sure how well the internet access will be where I am going. If I disappear for the next week it won't be because I have forgotten about you all!


Corabelle said...

Amazon is the master of advertising, that is for sure! It was not until a few days ago that I found out that there were sites that offered a similar service to Amazon Unlimited.

Amazon's new service will benefit lesser known authors. There has been a book I've been spying on Amazon for a few weeks now. I wanted to order it, but, I had never read the authors work before, wasn't sure I would like his style or not. The cost of the book was $7.99 which isn't too bad, but if you have never read the author before; why spend that much?

Through the service I found one of his books for free and I enjoyed it very much. I ended up buying one of his short stories today, which I also enjoyed. That being said, however, I could see this service hurting children's book authors. Most of their books on Amazon are 4.99 or higher. Which isn't bad, its around the same price as a actual picture book. Children get bored of the same picture book and constantly want new ones. This is big money for the industry. Now however many thousands of children's books for free, I could see that market shrinking.

Brian Basham said...

That's a good point. I wouldn't feel sorry for those authors just yet though. Every time you get 10% through those children's books the author/publisher gets a piece of the royalty pie. Shorter books like these you could reach that cutoff line after 1 page as opposed to longer works where it could take you 100 pages to reach that 10% royalty cutoff. We just don't know how big each piece of that royalty pie is going to be. If it is $2+ this could be a really nice revenue stream. If it's closer to $0.02 then it hardly seems worth the effort for authors to get their books listed on the service.

Corabelle said...

I think they are going to keep it at a "good rate" till they become a monopoly. Once they take over publishing, or the majority of it, they will drastically drop their royalties to authors.

I have a question, though. I'm not very tech savy, but most people get to Amazon through Google or they search through Google for a book. Google also has books do they not? Could one day Google say OK Amazon you don't do this we will hijack you? I know back in 09 there was a e-book competition between the two sites.

Brian Basham said...

One of the things I've found about Amazon is that their business model is about trying to make the customer happy first and while keeping an eye on the bottom line. They already own a large majority of the ebook market, but they look at self published authors as their customers too. As long as they are making good money off the system and their customers are happy they don't need to change the system. If they did there would be a mass exodus of self pub authors. Many of them read tons of books. It would make a nice sized dent in their available content and revenue.

Google has jumped into the publishing fray, but they were late to party. Their app is inferior to the kindle and their back end is notoriously hard to work with and slow from what I've read. The only way they could "hijack" amazon would be to sabotage the kindle app on android devices. They aren't going to do that because it would piss off a lot of android customers. BUT guess who is trying to sabotage the kindle app... Apple. Apple is trying to reclaim ebook dominance on their iphone and ipad devices by making the kindle app incompatible with future versions of IOS and disabling features that are available on windows and android versions of kindle.These kinds of shady business practices are just another reason to buy an android phone over an iphone.