Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Amazon KindleOn Friday, Amazon rolled out its Kindle Unlimited feature, in which, for a fixed fee of $9.99 a month, readers can read as many books as they want from a certain subset of the ebooks sold by Amazon. It also includes a limited number of audiobooks from Audible.com. Here is how the numbers break down:

— 2,769,500+ ebooks in Amazon
— 645,790 books in Kindle Unlimited (about 23%)
— 2,157 audio books (about 0.3% of the Kindle Unlimited Books
— 2,773 books in KU are free (even if the reader isn’t subscribed to Kindle Unlimited)

How a title gets into Kindle Unlimited

Before I discuss the two-tier system, let me explain how an author’s book gets into Kindle Unlimited.

— Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) titles enrolled in Select: This is by far the largest group of ebooks in Kindle Unlimited and is mainly self-published titles, although I suspect there are a fair number of small-presses that use KDP to list their books with Amazon. For those who don’t know, Select titles have added features, such as the ability to be sold for free for five days out of 90, ability to do time-bound sales, can be borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and now they are available to those who are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. While that’s a lot of advantages, it comes with a big down-side: you must be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon. You can’t sell those titles anywhere else. Not your own site. Not Barnes & Noble. Not the iBooks store.

— Top-selling self-published authors who are enrolled without the “exclusive” restriction: Examples include books by Hugh Howey, which are available in KU as well as B&N and the iBooks store, as well as many of the big romance best-sellers.

— Harry Potter books: Back when Amazon started the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library they made a special licensing deal with Pottermore to allow the books to be included. As they are also in KU, that agreement was either expanded or a similar arrangement was made.

— Amazon imprint authors: Not surprisingly, any author published through the Amazon imprints such as 47North (science fiction/fantasy), Montlake (romance), Thomas and Mercer (mystery and thrillers), have their books in KU. There are 14 Amazon imprints, which you can learn more about here.

— Publishers who have opted-in one or more their books: The ones I’ve noticed so far tend to be small independent presses (Open Road Media, Nightshade Books, etc). Open Road has impressed me with being innovative and aggressive with various distribution channels, they even recently did a Humble Bundle. I’m not too surprised it signed on.

— Books Amazon has added without publisher’s consent: We know from Publisher’s Lunch that Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games books fall into this category (confirmed by Scholastic spokesperson Kyle Good). We don’t know how many titles are in without consent, but I suspect most of the big titles fall into this category as no publisher has a press release indicating they are on-board with KU.

How a publisher/author is compensated

— For books enrolled in KDP & Select: Amazon has a pool of funds which is established at the start of each month. This is the same fund that has been used for “borrows” for people who are enrolled in Prime (they get 1 borrow a month). The fund does not take into account the size of the book or it’s price. Instead it takes the total amount of the pool divided by the number of borrows to calculate a unit price. This unit price is then multiplied by the number of times an author’s books are borrowed. Historically, the per unit price has been about $2 (sometimes a bit more, other times a bit less). The “downloads” from KU will be treated like a “borrow” once the reader gets past the first 10% of the book.

— For publishers/authors who opt-in to KU: they are paid the same price that they would receive if the reader had bought the book outright. Again, this amount is only credited once the reader has passed the 10% mark.

Editor’s Note: It has been brought to the attention of Digital Book World that not all publishers are being compensated as detailed in this article.  Certain publishers have negotiated agreements with Amazon for their participation in the KU program with alternate compensation arrangements.

— For titles added without consent: Publishers are paid as if a regular sale were made without any minimum reading requirement.

Second class status

Historically, Amazon has been good about treating self-published authors and traditionally published authors equally. There are some exceptions (for instance traditionally published titles can be pre-ordered, and most self-published authors cannot get this feature. Again there have been exceptions made for best-selling self-published authors), but for the most part both self- and traditionally published authors have enjoyed equal treatment. They share similar exposure on best-seller lists and top-rated lists, and Amazon’s “cut” from sales have been the same for both groups (30% under the agency model). In fact, when the agency model went into affect, Amazon raised self-publisher’s royalty from 35% to 70% to match what traditional publishers were getting. But now with the roll-out of Kindle Unlimited, we see two very different treatments:

Self-published authors MUST be exclusive to Amazon (except for a handful of best-selling authors) and can’t sell their books on other sites. Traditionally published books have no such exclusivity requirement and can be sold wherever the publisher wishes.

Self-published authors are paid from a pool set by Amazon each month. They have no idea how much they will be paid per book. Traditionally published books get paid exactly as they would if a sale were made. They know exactly what the unit price will be for each book and are not relying on the Amazon’s whim as far as what their unit price will be.

Why the difference?

Whenever I speak about a situation where an entity (retailers or publishers) treat authors poorly the answer is always the same: “because they can.” The publishers would never agree to the terms the self-published authors are getting. What Amazon is offering traditional publishers (full wholesale price without exclusivity) is a pretty good deal. A deal I’m sure most self-published authors would appreciate, myself included. They are giving publishers such a fair deal because there is no way the publishers would agree otherwise. Even with such attractive terms, I suspect the big-five won’t opt in their titles. But the self-published authors can be had for much less. They have been conditioned through several years of Select and those in Select are more than willing to give up other venues for higher visibility on Amazon. I can’t help but think I’m Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, trying to tell people at the Bedford Savings and Loan that Potter isn’t offering them a deal; he’s buying them cheap.

To add insult to injury, the current payout system has self-published authors subsidizing the payments of the traditionally published titles, much the way best-selling titles subsidize books that aren’t commercial successes. By this I mean that one party is getting less to offset the costs of someone else’s works.

I’m disappointed with Amazon for not offering the same terms to both self- and traditionally-published authors. Authors have grown accustomed to poor treatment from Publisher’s, and because of the way Kindle Unlimited has been rolled out, they can add Amazon as just one more multi-billion-dollar company taking advantage of them.


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79 thoughts on “Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens

      1. Michael J. Sullivan

        Yes, the KU is basically an extension of the KOLL. I think that the number of downloads through the KU will be much more than the KOLL (which was limited to one a month for those who bought Prime) and so the possible financial impact will probably be greater.

        To be honest, I don’t know how traditional published authors were compensated under KOLL, except for those put in against their consent – which are compensated the same way KU is …that is to say they get 100% of “sale price” as soon as the download occurs.

        Reply
  1. P.S. Bray

    So what’s the deal on the books with Amazon Digital Services, Inc. and amazon.com as publisher on the ebook version? I checked my wish list to see how many I could get through this service. I wasn’t surprised that the Big 5 books weren’t available, but I was surprised to see the Amazon titles that weren’t available through Unlimited–even on some without print versions.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      Most of the times when it says \Amazon Digital Services\ it means it is a self-published book that is using Kindle Direct Publishing to get listed with Amazon. These books may or may not be in the \Select\ program. If they are in Select they are in Kindle Unlimited, if they are not…then you won’t find them there.

      The print side has nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited. It’s only print (and some very few audio books) that are in KU.

      Reply
  2. John Brown

    It sucks being a no-name in the supply chain. I don’t like it. I definitely don’t want coach terms from Amazon. But I don’t see how this is much different from Select. Except now Amazon has put in a funding mechanism by charging 9.99 for it. Wasn’t this two-tier bit always part of Select?

    Reply
    1. Michael J Sullivan

      I’m not 100% sure how traditionally published titles were paid when part of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. It may be that there was equal disparity then…I’m not sure. But because KOLL only allowed for one book a month, the number of downloads were (I predict) much smaller. The whole point of subscription services is that they are for voracious readers so with KU it is going to have a much bigger impact. When a disparity is on something that will be a small % I don’t get too wacked out. For instance, I get a different royalty rate on books sold at high discount, but as there are so few of those it’s not worth making a stink over. But if they were the majority then I would be much more vocal about that.

      Reply
  3. Michael J. Sullivan

    Most of the times when it says \Amazon Digital Services\ it means it is a self-published book that is using Kindle Direct Publishing to get listed with Amazon. These books may or may not be in the \Select\ program. If they are in Select they are in Kindle Unlimited, if they are not…then you won’t find them there.

    The print side has nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited. It’s only print (and some very few audio books) that are in KU.

    Reply
  4. Bob Mayer

    True except this is true in traditional publishing also. Big name authors have agents that negotiate better terms for them than the average authors gets. Better royalty rates, kickers, marketing built into the contracts, etc. As I was told by my publicist at Random House: we put our marketing money behind our bestsellers.

    Once more, simple answer. Pull books from Select. Just as the authors putting an ad in the NY Times should focus their energies on something they might actually be able to do: get their publishers to pull their books from Amazon.

    Bottom line– this is capitilism, not a democracy where everyone gets treated the same. We get treated according to our success and also by the business decisions we make. My not being happy with something isn’t going to change the reality of it. However, it does factor into the decisions I make.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      The very top of the bestsellers will always get really great terms. I heard once that Stephen King gets 50% of net for the first year on books…but when we talk about the disparity here we’re not comparing the 1% to the 99% we are looking at two distinct groups that have an approximately equal amount of top-performers, failures, and a wide midlist.

      Yes we can always pull the books from Select, one of the great things about being an indie is not having to rely on a third party (your publisher) to make decisions for you. But the fact still remains that Amazon, who had been very even handed between the two groups, now is favoring one over the other.

      Yes, Amazon can treat self-published authors worse than traditional players because they will “take it.” There will always be authors in trad and self that are willing to take the crumbs rather than demand the loaf…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to advocate for the latter. Will it change things? Maybe not. But being silent about an injustice doesn’t make any impact.

      Reply
      1. Bob Haynes

        One reason King gets such a great deal is that he hasn’t asked for advances in a very long time. They don’t have to risk some astronomical sum against future sales, and have that money to invest elsewhere.

        Reply
    2. adanlerma

      Bob, for me, the bigger difference is exclusivity.

      Yes, I can decide not to participate, which I mostly don’t now, thank goodness.

      What seems to be happening though, is the pointing out of “that” particular disparity, is drawing both a lot defensiveness, and a lot of people suddenly speaking out about it.

      To me, it’s a gate keeping attribute unevenly applied.

      Bad or evil? No, I wouldn’t say so.

      But not for me.

      And increasingly, not for the hundreds of thousands of indies, many on best seller lists, that have chosen to be able to sell on Scribd and Oyster and libraries and iTunes and Kobo and Barnes & Noble also.

      As Michael says, “…we’re not comparing the 1% to the 99% we are looking at two distinct groups that have an approximately equal amount of top-performers, failures, and a wide midlist.”

      And the ultimate difference, is exclusivity.

      Reply
      1. Michael J. Sullivan

        I agree, the exclusivity aspect is the disturbing. Amazon keeps “sweetening the pot” to lure self-published authors into Select. I can’t help but feel like going exclusive with Amazon has some of the same problems as traditional publishing in that you are beholding to a single master. On the plus side, Kindle Select only requires 90 days whereas traditional life-of-copyright terms combined with really low thresholds for “in-print” determination could mean “forever” but part of being independent is the ability to release what you want, when you want,and where you want. Amazon’s exclusivity impedes that just as traditional does, and I would prefer they remain one of many viable options.

        Reply
  5. Michael Mulhern

    There is not enough competition in the e-Book digital distribution market for Amazon to feel the heat and offer more reasonable terms to self-published authors. Our decision, don’t use Amazon to distribute our e-Books. We are choosing to use INscribe Digital to distribute our e-Books instead of Amazon. Perhaps over time, more self-published authors will go this route and give Amazon some competition.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      More competition does make for a healthier ecosystem. That’s one of the reasons why the requirement on exclusivity bothers me so much. Publishers gave Amazon too much power, and now they are feeling that in the contract negotiations…such as with Hachette. We should learn from their mistake and limit how much we hand over as well. By going exclusive with Amazon we may find ourselves in the same unenviable position.

      Reply
  6. Fred Zimmerman

    I think it should be remarked that this is the camel’s nose under the tent for pay-for-performance for authors. Historically, authors and publishers have made a great deal of money from selling books that are not read. The dark side of ebook reading data.

    Reply
  7. Michael W. Perry

    Quote: \In fact, when the agency model went into affect, Amazon raised self-publisher’s royalty from 35% to 70% to match what traditional publishers were getting\

    Not so. Amazon only pays 70% for ebooks that retail from $2.99 to $9.99 and from that is taken a grossly inflated download fee of 15 cents per megabyte (over 3 x what cell companies charge). The result depends on an ebooks file size, but that download fee can easily knock royalties down to 60% or less.

    Outside that range, Amazon continues to pay 35%, a good indication that’s what it thinks authors \ought\ to be getting and what it would be paying, as you note, if not forced to do otherwise by competition with Apple, which pays 70% at all prices and charges no download fees.

    Apple, by the way, makes a nice profit selling music, apps and ebooks while getting 30% of retail, so you can imagine the sort of profit margin Amazon gets when it’s pocketing 65% of the retail price. Remember too that Amazon has an economy of scale that’s at least twice that of Apple.

    It’s easy to see why authors and reporters make this mistake. Go to Amazon’s \Sales and Royalties FAQ\ and you’ll see a masterpiece of lawyerly deception. Note the second answer:

    —-
    1-2. Why are royalties displayed at a 35% rate in the sales report, when I had selected 70% royalty option for my book?
    The 70% royalty option is only applicable for books sold to customers in certain countries. For sales to customers outside of the 70% territories, royalties are calculated at 35%, and these transactions appear at a 35% rate in the sales report. For sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India, the 70% royalty option is only available for titles enrolled in KDP Select. For full details, see the Pricing Page and Terms and Conditions.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A30F3VI2TH1FR8#1-1_royalties_calculated
    __

    That’s extraordinary deceptive. Only occasionally will most authors see 35% because of the country where an ebook is sold. Most of the time its because they’ve priced their U.S. ebook below or above that $2.99-9.99 range. Amazon buries that most important of facts, behind links to other pages, particularly this one:

    https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A29FL26OKE7R7B

    That includes this bit of nastiness if you dare to allow, for instance, a charity to distribute your ebooks for free:

    ——
    From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore, if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. If we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero.
    ——-

    Selfish SOBs aren’t they?

    Amazon is extraordinarily dishonest not just to authors (as here) but to customers. About 2002 I had a lengthy phone conversation with one of Amazon’s lawyers about how one of my books was deceptively displayed in search results. She didn’t deny that what Amazon search results display is driven by the company’s profit margin. Her only lawyerly justification was that, if customers kept clicking and clicking, they’d eventually find that cheaper price.

    I saw precisely that when I checked out the Amazon price for a specific model bluetooth headset a few months ago. All that were displayed by Amazon’s search result were in the $120 price range. Knowing Amazon deceives, I kept clicking away and soon discovered other pages where I could get that precisely same model for about $80, including from the manufacturer. That’s precisely what I’d complained to Amazon long before and Amazon is still doing it with, in this case, a huge difference in price for the identical product.

    Alas, most Amazon customers don’t know that Amazon search result deception and the press in this country–lazy, sloppy, and indolent–seems to display no interest in exploring the matter. \Hey,\ that’d take some work,\ reporters say. \My boss expects me to do six stories today. All I have time to do is echo press releases and what other reporters are saying.\

    And what all the other reporters are saying is:

    1. Amazon offers excellent customer service and great prices. Not so, particularly if you trust Amazon’s search results. You can get screwed and screwed badly. I recently looked up the Amazon’s price for something to better insulate by home. Amazon had it for $200. Home Depot shipped exactly the same to me for $90. Yet for days afterward, ads on web pages trumpeted that inflated Amazon price.

    2. Amazon pays authors 70% just like Apple. Again, not so but you have to click on links a few times to discover that.

    Summary for Authors:

    * If you want to see your ebook royalties cut in half, back to that 35% that Amazon wants to pay and would be paying but for competitors such as Apple, then by all means support Amazon. But if you believe that, because authors (and their friends) have provided almost all the labor for creating a book, they should also get almost all the income, then you’ll want to work to see Amazon’s ebook marketshare shrink to a healthier 30%. Only then will Amazon probably relent and pay market rates, which ought to be at least 70% of retail at all price levels.

    * The present details about Kindle Unlimited already aren’t that favorable to the typical independent author, but keep in mind that, if Amazon is able to dominate ebook subscriptions like it dominates ebook sales, the situation will get far worse.

    * The problem with doing business with Amazon is never in the details. It’s always with the core values of Amazon itself, both its goals (here author royalties in the 35% range) and the deceptions it’s willing to use to achieve those goals.

    * And as I realized after I’d talked with that Amazon lawyer, the company really does think that deceiving both customers and clients, it’s being oh-so clever. The wrongness of it’s behavior never intrudes onto its relativistic, Amazon First, Last and Always mindset.

    Thanks Michael for a great article pointing how Kindle Unlimited shortchanges independent authors. I do have one question though. You say:

    —–
    \Self-published authors are paid from a pool set by Amazon each month. They have no idea how much they will be paid per book. Traditionally published books get paid exactly as they would if a sale were made. They know exactly what the unit price will be for each book and are not relying on the Amazon’s whim as far as what their unit price will be.\
    —–

    Is there really a separate pool for self-published authors, or are all ebooks being paid from the same mysterious pool? If the latter is true, then those higher payments for traditionally publisher books and highly popular authors (i.e. Hunger Games) are coming out of the pockets of self-published authors who’ve gotten in the Kindle Unlimited door though Kindle Select.

    Yes, I know I could wade through many pages of Amazon web documentation and perhaps find the answer hidden in a remote link, but since you’re researched this far better than I, I though you might know where to find the answer. If there’s one pool, then Amazon knows that every penny extra it pays to a large publisher will come out of the pockets of independent authors and not that of Amazon.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      “Is there really a separate pool for self-published authors, or are all ebooks being paid from the same mysterious pool? If the latter is true, then those higher payments for traditionally publisher books and highly popular authors (i.e. Hunger Games) are coming out of the pockets of self-published authors who’ve gotten in the Kindle Unlimited door though Kindle Select.”

      Yes there really is a separate pool. And yes that means the traditionally published authors are being subsidized by the self-published ones.

      And yes, I should have mentioned the 70% is only for books priced $2.99 – $9.99, I was talking more about the timing of when the change occurred than anything else. Where the cut off is for 35% and 70% is pretty well known so I don’t think people are confused on this point…but it was worth pointing out my lack of detail there, so thank you.

      Reply
  8. Theresa M. Moore

    I never signed up for Select and I never gave exclusivity to Amazon. This is because I read the fine print before I would sign up. Even then, my ebooks ended up in freebie promotions without my permission, and I made more money from other booksellers than I ever did with Amazon in the first place. Now, I am not in the ebook market on Amazon and I don’t care. I know which side of the bread my butter is on, and Amazon is not it. Amazon has changed the rules so many times it does not offer any author better terms, even with the 70% net revenue. It has soured the milk for me, so let it die on the vine.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      I’m glad you are finding success outside Amazon…it’s good for authors to have choices. For me, Amazon is still a very high percentage of my sales, so while I could “pull my books off it” my income would suffer greatly…but that doesn’t mean I have to be exclusive, an aspect that I’m avoiding.

      Reply
  9. Jack Gray

    Theresa said:
    “I never signed up for Select and I never gave exclusivity to Amazon. This is because I read the fine print before I would sign up. Even then, my ebooks ended up in freebie promotions without my permission”

    Michael can you tell me if the above happens often? Im on Amazon and indie selfpublished but I never opt for any select or any other program. Does that mean Amazon will or can use my books in freebies WITHOUT me signing up for select or unlimited etc AT ALL?

    Reply
    1. Michael J Sullivan

      My guess is your book was free “somewhere” else. In the terms and conditions there is this:

      “From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore, if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. If we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero. (Unlike under the 70% Royalty Option, if we match a price for your Digital Book that is above zero, it won’t change the calculation of your Royalties indicated in C. above.)”

      If your book wasn’t free somewhere else, it may be because it “thought it was” – for instance a free copy in the form of an “extended preview” might make them think the “full book” was free.

      If neither of those cases occur -then it is a mistake, and yeah it happens from time to time. Amazon will fix such things as soon as you bring it to their attention.

      They can’t use your books as freebies without your permission UNLESS it is because of price-matching. But mistakes can happen.

      Reply
  10. Jim F. Kukral

    It’s a 90-day exclusive to Amazon. Try it and if it works, go with it. It’s not like a traditional publishing contract where you lose your rights forever. Which is more unfair?

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      You’ll hear no arguments from me that the “rights forever” aspect of traditional is more egregious…and yes it is only 90-days. But do the choices for authors always have to be between bad and worse? What Amazon is offering traditional publishers is a “fair” deal. All I’m asking for is for the self-published authors to be treated similarly. What’s wrong with that?

      Reply
      1. Bonnie Rice

        The reason self-published authors don’t get the same deal as the big publishers has more to do with the fact that we are independent than anything else because we don’t have a guild or union to bargain for us and that leaves Amazon to make all the rules. We do have the right to keep our books on Amazon but out of Kindle Unlimited and if more authors did that, Amazon would probably have to sweeten the deal to make it work, but we aren’t that organized.

        Reply
        1. Michael J. Sullivan

          True, although it is the same exact issue with traditional publishers. Individually they can have their bad clauses and low royalty rates, but we have no power to get them to change those either.

          Reply
  11. adanlerma

    Michael, enjoyed your article tremendously. Great detail and look ahead. Comment thread has been very interesting.

    The questions, in my mind, aren’t anymore about which is more fair or unfair (though a legitimate question), but where do authors stand?

    What do we need, as creative original content producers, to be able to fairly retain our rights to what we have created, and garner a fair price, and an equitable (not just comparatively better) opportunity.

    I think you’ve expressed that, even if in a better said, more substantiated, manner :-)

    Have tweeted, Google+’d, and Stumbleupon’d it!

    Best wishes!

    Reply
    1. Michael J Sullivan

      Glad you liked the article. What I think is needed…is for authors to be able to sell their books direct to readers. This would put more money in the author’s pocket, allow the reader to have more of their money going to the content creator, and make it so we are not at the mercy of the various retailers or publishers.

      Reply
  12. Polly Iyer

    Thought I posted this but guess not. To give a little history, I had an agent for two years who couldn’t sell my books, though she came close. I’m at an age where I didn’t want to wait anymore, so I put my books, four at the time, on B&N and Amazon. I sold almost nothing on B&N and decided to go on the Select program. I sold very well both in 2011-2012. I put my books up for free and saw the jump in sales after.

    In 2013, something changed. Whether because of algorithms or whatever, my sales weren’t as good. So I took all my books, six now, off Select and published with a distributor, but I kept control of Amazon. This got my books on all the platforms, including libraries and overseas wholesalers. My sales started out slow and stayed that way. A dribble of sales on Apple, a few others here and there, but after a year I saw no major improvement. A few months ago, I went back on Select. I made more in the first month of borrows than any month on all the other platforms combined with the distributor.

    People complain and complain, but I would probably not be published now if not for Amazon. If I were, I’d probably have had to wait a couple more years before I saw anything in print and more for each subsequent book, if I wasn’t dropped by whatever publishing house decided to take a chance on me. On Amazon, I’ve found readers who love my books. I do my own covers–background was in art–and love the freedom and control. I agree with whoever said that if you don’t like Amazon’s terms or their Big Brother control, don’t publish with them and certainly not exclusively. That’s the choice you have as writers. Me? I’m happy.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      Polly,
      I’m glad you found success…and I’m not advocating for people to not sign up for Select. I’m all for indies being able to choose to be in or out…and you know your business better than I. All I’m saying is that author-publishers and trad-publishers should have the same terms. I’m not sure what is wrong with that.

      Reply
    2. Maia Sepp

      Congrats on your success Polly. But just as an fyi, I reached out to KDP last week because, as with you, my books are in libraries and I wanted to see if that breached the terms of Select. They confirmed to me that it does. Just something to keep in mind.

      Btw, I don’t really think everyone is complaining, rather, I think people are trying to figure out what to do. It’s cool that you’ve found success in Select, but I do think there are legit criticisms of exclusivity that need to be aired, if to do nothing other than add to our ever-growing knowledgebase about this industry.

      For myself, I’m not pulling any titles, especially not to make them only available in the US when I’m not a US writer. That’s actually the aspect of this I find to be the most troubling – particularly as a reader.

      Thanks for posting this, Michael.

      Reply
      1. adanlerma

        I thought I was getting comment updates but just checked and see all this new info. Thanks so much Maia.

        This is really unfortunate. Libraries lend one copy to one person at a time. Often folk who cannot afford subscriptions or buying books. People forget what a huge percentage of our population is below poverty level, and what a huge percentage is below or at a barely-making-it level.

        Exclusiveness, it seems, not only hurts all the self-published writers who don’t join Kindle Unlimited, but everyday people who have very few choices.

        Reply
  13. Jon Baker

    What amazes me is how Amazon can verify if 10% is read. From what I have read only a few companies were dabbling in this technology and that was two years ago. There’s really very little incentive to verify the figure once Amazon get its own upfront $9.99.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      They have always known how far you read – it’s how they can give you a link for “jump to furthest point read.” As a writer…I would love for them to give me a report indicating how many books were never opened, how many only got to 10%, 25%, 50%, 100%, etc. It would be really interesting to see.

      The problem is some people download, convert, then read a different device so of course for those books the author/publisher will get no compensation…but I think that is a relatively small number of people.

      Reply
      1. Jayne

        My paperwhite lists what percentage of the book I’m through on the bottom.

        I’m finding this a really interesting article because I’ve finally started to write. I’m appreciating the work that was done here. Thank you.

        Reply
  14. Jon Baker

    As a follow up to the 10% figure I would imagine there are even a few apps to defeat that figure now. Plus monitoring it over multiple devices might be difficult.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      Devices/apps using the Kindle software I think will monitor just fine. The problem is when someone for instance buys from Amazon but reads on their nook. (Using a tool like Calibre to convert from .mobi to .epub). This will be such a small number it won’t really impact income (I predict)…but readers won’t realize that by doing so they have deprived the author an the publisher a cut for a book that they legitimately purchased.

      Reply
    2. Athena Grayson

      There may be apps to defeat it, but there’s no real reason for readers to need to circumvent the “how much did you read” cookies–the readers pay their monthly fee whether or not they read.

      Reply
      1. Michael J Sullivan

        I don’t think they are trying to circumvent it…they want the author to be paid, they are probably just not aware that when they download from Amazon, use Calibre to convert to epub then read on their ipad or nook that they have essentiallycut the author out of the payment even though they didn’t mean to.

        Reply
  15. Polly Iyer

    There’s nothing wrong with that, and I applaud you for caring enough to try to even the playing field. Voices like yours certainly have more clout than those of us with neither name recognition nor a platform from which to educate and inform other writers. That said, Amazon is a business, and it will do whatever it takes to increase their bottom line, and too many of us are probably too grateful to have a venue from which we can sell our books and make some money to know we’re being taken advantage of. There are other inequities facing indie writers, but that’s another blog post.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      I’m all for capitalism and have always supported both Amazon and Publishers for making “business decisions.” I have no illusions about that. I just want author-publishers to act the same way…focus on what is good for “your business.” For some, they’ll analyze and conclude that Select (even with inequitable terms) would be better than being outside Select…so by all means go in. My post is not about opting in or opting out…it’s about being vocal about what I see as an unfair system…and an attempt to remind authors that we can sometimes perpetuate unfair treatment (from both retailers AND publishes) by accepting terms that aren’t as good as we might get if we weren’t so easily bought.

      Reply
  16. Nate

    \ they get 100% of “sale price” as soon as the download occurs.\

    No, the publisher got that money; the author got significantly less. In fact, depending on the price of the ebook the self-published author might be getting more from a loan.

    So does this mean that the traditionally published author was always in second class, where the indie author is now joining them?

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      Sorry, it was a quick jotting off of a comment and I should have been more precise with my wording…you are absolutely correct.

      With regards to royalty rates…yes, I do think traditionally published authors are treated unfairly and should be demanding more…unfortunately authors are just as powerless to change publishers royalty rates as they are at changing Amazon’s rates/policies. I’ve been extremely vocal about the 25% of net rate since day one.

      But let’s not compare apples and oranges. The 70% under a system like KDP is not a “royalty” for a writer’s contribution….it is the “publisher’s cut.” The author-publisher has to assume all the roles of the publisher and usually pay for freelancers so to think of that full 70% as going “to the writer” (even though it is the same person as the publisher) is a bit disingenuous. In such an arrangement it would probably be more accurate to say Amazon gets 30%, the publisher (who just happens to be the author) gets 35% and the writer gets 35%. I think a similar payment arrangement in traditional would be good for me…author and publisher split the profits equally.

      Reply
  17. Snow Man

    What will be interesting is how this system will be gamed within a month.

    There are already companies that create \bestseller campaigns\ for books, that is, for a fee they discretely buy enough copies in one week at B&N and Amazon to get a book to pop onto the NY Times list (outside the end of the year holidays, 3000 copies should do it for hardcover nonfiction). Then the book drops off, of course, but the author can now declare himself forever as a \NY Times Bestselling Author.\ For business book authors, for instance, this is an incredibly valuable credential and well worth the cost of the 3000 books and the service.

    (Note: this is separate from how most conservative books make the list. In this case, conservative organizations buy up copies in bulk to giveaway to members, burn for heat, whatever. Thus the use of daggers on the bestseller list to indicate that bulk purchases contributed to the sales elevating the book onto the list.)

    (Not that publishers don’t have their own way of gaming the Times list, but at least it involves actual consumers. You put all your publicity and a big signing in the first week, when Amazon pre-sales are also counted, and that could jump the book onto the list, only to disappear the next week because the publisher’s blown his publicity wad.)

    Anyway, here’s how this will work going forward for ebooks: One of these campaign companies builds a network of Kindle Unlimited subscribers. For a fee, perhaps $1-2 each, they are instructed to download and skim through 10% of the book at a certain time, creating a sale, and popping the book onto the Amazon list. The company will quickly be able to determine how many readers it takes to get a book onto a list at some level at some time such that they can deploy an efficient number of subscribers to get a book on the list, then deploy just enough to maintain it on the list until its bestsellerdom takes on a momentum all its own. Given the volatility of the list, I imagine it doesn’t take too many sales to get on there, so a \bestseller campaign\ would probably have modest cost to authors, say, $750-1000 to get on the list and another $350-500 per week to ensure it stays on. When you’re already spending a grand or two to self-publish, why not go whole hog?

    Reply
  18. Michael J. Sullivan

    I think it is easier than 3,000 copies to hit the New York Times. If we look at Bookscan data for I am Pilgrim (bottom of the NYT for 7/20) it sold 1,118 hardcovers. Nielsen says Bookscan represents 65% – 75% of total sales…from tracking my own books it generally runs around 68%. So that is 1,490 to 1,720 titles – but yes I understand the point, and there are some noted examples of PR firms who put their clients on the Bestseller list by mass buying, like ResultSource’s manipulation of LeapFrogging and Networking is Dead.

    I do think such “programs” will come into being…the system is remarkably easy to “game.” It will be interesting to see if Amazon builds in some checks and balances…for instance it would be easy to write a program to notice the same set of books being purchased from the same pool…not to mention how “quickly” they get to 10%. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put some algorithms in place to check for such things…after all fraud of this type will cost them a great deal as it will artificially increase their payouts.

    Reply
  19. Jim F. Kukral

    I met a woman this summer who had been writing Romance novels for 25 years. She had
    quite a few of them in her drawer but after countless rejections from agents and publishers she
    gave up. A few years ago, her daughter took a few of her books and put them on Kindle.

    They were a huge success. Since that time she has now put all of her books on Kindle and is
    making so much money she has quit her job and retired. I can point you to thousands of stories
    like this.

    Certainly the opportunity Amazon has presented to every author is greater than the alternative
    of things like exclusivity?

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      A great story…and not unlike my own…and as you said a thousand others. I’ve said many, many times that Amazon has done more for authors that the big-five combined.

      The problem I have with your statement is these aren’t the alternatives that exit. It’s not like we have a choice between “no Amazon publishing and going back to the only way to get your books out is through a traditional publisher” or “only exclusive Amazon publishing (althought it might eventually come to that).

      This isn’t a case of “If you give a mouse a cookie.” I’m not saying to Amazon, yeah you’ve been good to be me in the past, but I want more, give it to me. I’m just stating my desire for them to treat both groups similarly especially since I think they both contribute pretty similarly to Amazon’s income. It might even be that indies bring them more…which would make this even more an issue if that’s true.

      Reply
    2. adanlerma

      “Certainly the opportunity Amazon has presented to every author is greater than the alternative
      of things like exclusivity?” –

      That doesn’t seem right to me, even on the surface.

      How ’bout, using a more extreme example, “I gave you life, you’ll do as I say?”

      Fine for a dependent, but is that what writers are, or meant to be? Maybe at one time, though I doubt that was 100%. And certainly not now.

      Reply
  20. Athena Grayson

    It’s because Amazon, to be frank, can reach the readers so much better than any one author can. Except, maybe, JK Rowling (and even then, it’s a tight game). Scuttlebutt has been, over the past few months, that staying in KDP Select hasn’t been as profitable/reliable as it has been in the past, so there are more authors abandoning it to grow their audiences on other platforms.

    But Amazon did not get where it is by being stupid–discoverability has always been key, and authors have been able to do that by using free/cheap/pricing attractors, massaging the algorithms, and banding together in dirt-cheap box sets with individual loss leaders bundled together.

    Amazon has systematically taken those discoverability methods away from control of the authors, and put them in the hands of Amazon–they made you trade exclusivity for the ability to (officially) make your book free, created a lending library to keep readers/kindle owners from sharing accounts (and books) with family or friends. They tweaked the charts so your FREE couldn’t top the same charts as books people paid money for, they tweaked the algorithms so your 99-center didn’t count for as much as the $4.99 title. Now with the all-you-can-eat buffet, they are taking in hand the ability to get multiple reads for one low price. My fifty-cent prediction is that bundles will take a plunge at about the same rate as KU subscriptions go on the rise. My other prediction is that Amazon is doing this to cut off at the knees places like Oyster and Scribd who may be thus far under the radar, but offer a different way of competing with Amazon–the ‘Zon can out-compete its direct competitors without much effort, but subscription services might be just different enough to gain a foothold.

    Reply
    1. Michael J. Sullivan

      I agree with all of this…self-publishers have been much more aggressive with making use of a number of techniques to get them noticed: perma-free, Select 5-free days, countdown sales, Bookbub, etc.

      Ironically, within KU these things don’t matter. All books are essentially the same price in KU so will they flock to the “perceived value” of higher priced books? I think so. If MOST of the books in KU are Select books, then most of the payments for those will also be uniform – all at $2.00 a unit or whatever the division comes out to be. It may be that this is the only way Amazon will be able to sustain this type of sales model.

      That MAY mean that low priced books don’t get attention, and high priced books get more downloads now (since price isn’t an issue) which will mean the ones taking the low-price strategy will lose and the ones in the higher price strategy will also lose (because they are getting $2 rather than say $3.50.

      It’s very complicated and way to early to know for sure what will happen. At the end of the day there were will be some authors who want more readers (at the sacrifice of income) and others that want to maximize income. How best to do that? I don’t know – but I’m going to be watching things carefully.

      Reply
      1. adanlerma

        Michael, “All books are essentially the same price in KU ” is why, from the first I heard of Scribd and Oyster, I was in favor of subscription services.

        My wife and I had experienced and enjoyed not having to wonder or worry about the price of a DVD with Netflix, and, over time, came to expore and discover films and actors we never would have otherwise (Ms Fisher’s Murder Mysteries from Australia, most recently).

        Ultimately, in a non-exclusive arrangement, such as with Scribd and Oyster and libraries (and I was really sad to hear Select prohibits books being in libraries) – less known and unknown artists have a real chance.

        Plus, if I concentrate precious time and money to promoting those sites my customers can maximize my exposure to them, an exclusive listing with selected titles is not a smart option for me.

        Glad you’ll continue “watching things” – can use a moderate author aligned voice here :-)

        Reply
        1. Michael J. Sullivan

          I do think I’m a bit more “moderate” than most. I think it comes from being successful with both self and traditional publishing and as such I’m able to see things from multiple perspectives. Always something interesting in the world of publishing.

          Reply
    2. adanlerma

      “My other prediction is that Amazon is doing this to cut off at the knees places like Oyster and Scribd who may be thus far under the radar, but offer a different way of competing with Amazon–the ‘Zon can out-compete its direct competitors without much effort, but subscription services might be just different enough to gain a foothold.” –

      Athena, I think as long as Scribd and Oyster maintain non-exclusivity, set royalty rates that agree with writers, and offer a wider range of indie and traditional titles, they will attract enough business to stay active for as long as they wish to continue.

      Amazon, like giants of the past, IBM, ATT, and others, can only control the market, and consumer sentiment, for so long.

      I actually feel they are in as much of a race as their competitors, to nail down content that can be bundle-offered to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, the cable companies, Apple, and who knows who else.

      My gut feeling, sincerely meant, is that exclusivity, except for name authors or movies or such, has out-lived its usefulness for Amazon. Even now, the titles in Select, even if one or two here and there from a lot of authors, plus writes like Joe Konrath, is not that much different or better, than the range of titles available in Scribd and Oyster.

      And finally, by requiring exclusivity, which I’ve decided against in my own self-interest, prevents me from actually sending them all my customers (who would choose to go there) for all my titles.

      How would people feel if they could only buy Folgers coffee at one store chain?

      It really comes down to that –

      Except for their own imprints, and attention getting titles, Amazon loses impact with exclusivity.

      Reply
      1. Michael J. Sullivan

        In some ways, I think Amazon’s entry to the subscription based services is going to be a boon for Oyster. First, it legitimizes the model as one that isn’t just a flash in the pan, but it is also more likely that any publisher who might want to dip their toes deeper into the subscription pool will do so by adding titles to Oyster rather than to Amazon. At the end of the day, this space belongs to the one with the most content, and this might just make Oyster even further ahead then it already is in regards to A-list conent.

        Reply
  21. Tasha Turnet

    Well laid out. Not surprising to me. Hopefully Amazon will come around and offer better terms (60-70% of list) and remove the exclusive requirement.

    I don’t think it hurts to have a book or short, or even better an exclusive to amazon short related to a series, in KU as it currently stands if you have other books outside it and treat it like a perma-free loss leader.

    Write to Bezos and let him know you aren’t happy with the way this is set up. His address is getting easier and easier to find thanks to various petitions (Preston and opposing Konrath). Maybe it’s time for another petition.

    Reply
    1. Michael J Sullivan

      My objection is largely that both organizations take advantage of the author because “we take it.” Amazon can demand exclusivity in exchange for a bunch of features – that do have value. It’s not unlike publishers who offer 25% of ebook because if the author doesn’t agree they have many lined up who will jump at the chance.

      I don’t think going into KU is a bad idea. I put a short into it myslef, and in my case I’m actually working it to my advantage as the short is usually $0.99 and earns me $0.34 but if it is borrowed I could get $2.00ish. I just want equal treatment for both my self-published and traditional published books .

      Reply
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  23. Jerry

    I’m confused. If I have a $.99 book that is signed up for KDP Select and the KU program, how much do I receive if it is sold, borrowed, whatever throught the KU program? Do I receive the normal payout of approx. $2 or the $.35 that I would normally receive on a sale? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Michael J Sullivan

      You do indeed get the $2.00 (assuming the reader read 10% of it). So yes, there is an opportunity here for those that have $0.99 works. And this is probably a big reason why so many of the low-priced self-published works are in Select. So yeah, the implementation has a carrot as well as a stick…for me personally though, I wish that the KOLL was divided up base don list price. I think it will change to that in the not too distant future…so if you are going to make use of the current pricing do it now.

      Reply
  24. Jon Ronnquist

    I think the term “second-class citizen” is an apt one because it hints at the prevalence of the notion that Amazon is a democracy, as opposed to a profit-oriented business whose motives will always lean toward the most lucrative arrangement possible for the sake of the bottom line. Most of the citizens in question were stateless before KDP came along. Authors who sell significant volumes of books on Amazon – as pointed out – can negotiate alternative arrangements. It is only to be expected that those individuals who belong to the majority – those whose sales probably don’t even cover the cost of hosting their content – will not be pandered to in equal measure. Writing a book is a personal act of creativity. Selling a book is a commercial undertaking. Amazon is in the supply game, not the demand game. Demand is the author’s responsibility, and until an author has created enough of it to achieve partnership with, as opposed to dependence on, the retailer, any help, no matter how impersonal the motive, is essentially an act of charity. The problem isn’t that Amazon is scaling back its support for individual authors, but that the self-publishing community has come to see access to see free access to the world’s largest eBook market as a right, and any tampering with that right as an act of injustice. Complaints about Amazon in this respect make no sense outside the context of an arrangement that is unique to itself, a consequence of technology and history without president that cannot be said to have been earned.

    Reply
  25. Jon Ronnquist

    erm “second-class citizen” is an apt one because it hints at the prevalence of the notion that Amazon is a democracy, as opposed to a profit-oriented business whose motives will always lean toward the most lucrative arrangement possible for the sake of the bottom line. Most of the citizens in question were stateless before KDP came along. Authors who sell significant volumes of books on Amazon – as pointed out – can negotiate alternative arrangements. It is only to be expected that those individuals who belong to the majority – those whose sales probably don’t even cover the cost of hosting their content – will not be pandered to in equal measure. Writing a book is a personal act of creativity. Selling a book is a commercial undertaking. Amazon is in the supply game, not the demand game. Demand is the author’s responsibility, and until an author has created enough of it to achieve partnership with, as opposed to dependence on, the retailer, any help, no matter how impersonal the motive, is essentially an act of charity. The problem isn’t that Amazon is scaling back its support for individual authors, but that the self-publishing community has come to see access to see free access to the world’s largest eBook market as a right, and any tampering with that right as an act of injustice. Complaints about Amazon in this respect make no sense outside the context of an arrangement that is unique to itself, a consequence of technology and history without president that cannot be said to have been earned.

    Reply
    1. Michael J Sullivan

      Without question Amazon can (and does) whatever they wish to maximize profit, and no an author should not think of selling on Amazon as an entitlement. Does that mean that authors have no right to voice their displeasure? More and more I see readers asking questions like, “Where should I buy from to give the author the most compensations” so they do care about such things. If nothing else I hoped to educate them on such aspects.

      Reply
  26. Kathy Golden

    Thanks for your article. It’s detailed and easy to follow. I have a question regarding the percentage of a book that must be read by subscribers.

    I know that the Kindle Unlimited FAQs state that over 10% of the book must be read in order for the author to earn royalties. Does this stipulation apply to all authors or are some authors paid even if a lesser percentage is read?

    Reply
  27. Jon Baker

    I posed a question earlier about how Amazon could decipher when the 10% point had been reached. I’ve been around quite a long time selling books via the Internet and seen all the points and counterpoints about various subjects. No matter how you cut the pie or argue Amazon was having trouble with this in KU, in the first month. Oh, by the way “we forgot to turn on the system” so you’ll get credit for everything in July doesn’t instill a lot of faith. Plus all the adjustments going on in August are almost crazy.

    Returning to a place you read in a document becomes a whole different animal when it is linked to a payment system based upon very accurate measurements. Plus how it is handles refunds, grace periods, or overall adjustments is a whole different ballgame. Remember Amazon gets its money upfront without dealing in the mess authors will.

    A healthy amount of skepticism is a necessity in this day and age.

    Reply
  28. Kathy Golden

    It seems that it’s possible for authors to get paid both for KU borrows and outright purchases on the same book. In other words, if I read over 10% of a book, the author gets paid for a borrow; then, if I decide to buy the book, the author gets paid the royalty for the sale. Is that correct?

    Reply
  29. Daniel

    KINDLE UNLIMITED SUCKS !!!!

    Kindle Unlimited Sucks! Yes Kindle Unlimited Sucks, plain and simple, and there is now question about this .. At first I just thought it Sucks from an authors standpoint. A authors whose books wear selling pretty well in 20014 … Selling well until Amazon had the bright idea of this thing called Kindle Unlimited, a sort of Netflix for Books .. Well Kindle Books anyway. Kindle Unlimited is a monthly subscription service, whereby a subscriber can get unlimited downloads of Kindle Books on Amazon, 10 books at a time for the cost of $9.99 a month … If you’re an avid reader, this might sound good to you, good if you can get and read numerous books a month for $9.99 … Yes, good if you can get books, or more like, good if there was a good selection of books for you to get (Download) and read … But guess what my friends? The selection of books Sucks “Big Time.” There practically is none. The selection is “Pitiful” scandalous actually. Anyone who has signed up for the free month of Kindle Unlimited no-doubt already knows this. I don’t know what the figures are, but I’d wager to say that percentage wise the number of books available on Kindle Unlimited against the Total Number of Books sold on Amazon is far less than 1 % .. That’s dismal, to say the least .. Think I’ll see if I can find out the figure somewhere, and if one of you dear readers happens to know, please let me know by leaving a comment in the comment box. Thanks for that!

    Anyway, I first starting hating Kindle Unlimited in the beginning of the month (August 2014). Anyway last Christmas Season my book sales spike to pretty good numbers for the first time. Nice! Yes it was. The first 4 months of 2014 sales were so-so … Then all of a sudden in May 2014, sales of my book Sunday Sauce started spiking in a big way. They went from about 20 a month to more than 600 … I was loving it .. In June and July I was selling close to 850 units a month with about 50 borrows from Kindle Prime subscribers that are worth 2 Bucks a Pop .. Sweet! Then came the dreaded month of August 2014 … Dreaded for me anyway .. All of a sudden, my sales dipped overnight, and “Drastically” !!! My sales went from around 33 a day, down to a meager 3 ! “What The Fu_k ???” I didn’t know what hit me. Seriously, I didn’t .. I didn’t ever know what the Hell Kindle Unlimited was … I soon found out .. I went on the Forum for Kindle Select Authors and soon found out. A number of authors had seen sales drop dramatically as soon as Kindle Unlimited came on line. They were in the same boat as me .. Others were not. They were the fortunate ones, their sales had soared. Soared upwards that is .. Well goody for them, but not me and others. Some authors said their sales went down but their “Borrows” were up dramatically. Up enough for them to be happy .. But how bout us other guys? Guys (and Girls) whose sales not only went down, but went down drastically, and overnight? And all because of Kindle Unlimited .. I posted on the KDP Forum, “I Think I Hate Kindle Select.” I wasn’t really sure cause as a number of authors stated and suggested for everyone (authors) to wait and see when the dust settles.
    OK, so I would. I didn’t have a choice … I was reading some articles and forums about this whole KU thing and how it was affecting authors, either badly, like me, and for some, it was good. Amongst all the talk, some were thinking that if your book was priced at a higher price-point it might tend to attract KU Subscribers to download it more than over titles that were cheaper, like mine at just .99 Cents … The subscribers would feel like they were getting a better deal by getting more expensive books free as opposed to getting a cheaper book free. Makes sense to me!
    So I started experimenting. I had to get my sales up after the KU bashing. So I raised the Price to $9.99 hoping to attact more KU Subscribers to download my now more expensive book. Nothing !!! I tried putting it to $5.99, Nothing! So I put it back to .99 Cents and figured I’d wait out the storm …
    Well it’s August 31 and the first dreadful month of Kindle Unlimited is over .. But Kindle Unlimited is till there, and new subscriber will be going for the Free Month of KU .. Hey, I did myself. Mainly as an author who saw his Kindle Sales Aniolated as a result of Kindle unlimited, I wanted to get it to see how it all worked and what was available. Boy i’m glad I did. I signed up for my Free Month of Kindle Unlimited, went on and started looking for books. Guess what? Well I think you already know? There’s hardly anything there. I couldn’t find any books I wanted to read. Well a couple. But I don’t think I’ll even find ten. Why? You know. The selections Sucks. There’s hardly anything there. The selection is quite pitiful and I’d have to think the majority would agree, especially those who might read 6 or more books a month and thought KU might be a great deal. Not !!!!!
    So, I’d have to say, it looks highly likely, that eventually this thing called Kindle Unlimited will one day in the near future go the way of the Dodo Bird, and off into extinction .. Time will tell. What do you think?

    Daniel

    Reply
    1. Bob Haynes

      So what you are in effect saying is, “There is a huge opportunity to make a fortune by writing books that don’t suck and making them available for Kindle Unlimited.” If most of the books are garbage but you sell a great one, you have little competition.

      Reply
  30. Sol

    In July, Amazon paid 0.56 cents per normalized page. That is, when a reader reads one 100-pages book via Kindle Unlimited, Amazon pays 56 cents to the book’s author. This is not what Amazon said in their announcement made on July 2, 2015 about the new Kindle Unlimited program (Amazon said that an author gets paid $1,000 when his 100-pages long book is read by 100 readers, which equals $1,000 for 10,000 pages or 10 cents per page, which is the same as $10 for a 100-page long book).

    Reply
  31. Nancy Holyfield

    My thinking is, yes you might make some money listing you self published books on Amazon. But, wouldn’t it make better sense for all the self-published Authors to do something like the open office people did because the price of Microsoft office is so high. I am not saying to give away your books for free. I am saying to take total control of the entire situation. what I mean by this is to have one really nicely designed website where you join as a selling member and pay a yearly fee that is a very cheap yearly membership price for all sellers. The sellers then act sort of like a co-op where the sellers own the website. And, the membership fees go toward paying to have the site maintained and the accounting and all the office work, so to speak done. Other than paying your yearly membership fee, you receive 100% of the sales from your books. It can be done and it would totally restructure how e-books are sold. You would then be taking everything away from anyone who you feel would want to cheat you or treat you unfairly. I write but nothing bigtime. You could join the same site if you only wanted to give away your books for free if you were willing to pay the membership fee. I feel that if it was done right, enough people would join to make it worthwhile and I don’t think the cost of maintaining a website would be that much as compared to how much of your labor (what amazon profits) is being given away to amazon. There could even be a free book section on there for people who just want to give away books which would draw even more people to the site. The site could also be advertised on, as a possibility to lower the cost of membership fees, as advertising revenues could potentially pay the entire cost of running the site. costs of the project would be something like this: cost of build the website, paying a person to maintain it, some sort of bookkeeper for the site to keep the money end of it all straight, and a payroll clerk to send out the money, I watched my family run their own business for years and I think the co-op idea would be something quite nice to take the middle man out of the loop. maybe I don’t know what I am talking about because I don’t sell books. I only write them. but as a writer, I do believe there should be a place where people can come to download old out of print or just old well known books as well as buy all the new or popular stuff and this would achieve that goal. sort of like a writer’s co-op, where all the members have a vote and a say in how things are being run and not one company or person at the top calling the shots and making huge profits. Why do people write in the first place? Because we have something to tell and because we want it to be read. why not achieve both with something that would work for both the reader and the writer. I am thinking, business plan right now and mapping out how this could be done, in my own head. I see it as do-able.

    Reply
  32. STEVE CHAPPLE

    I have books in print and out. I just put an old one orig. printed with HarperCollins up as a Kindle. It’s called KAYAKING THE FULL MOON: A Journey Down the Yellowstone River to the Soul of Montana. Killer reviews, 4 big printings, until, you guessed it, Big Bad New York Publishing canceled all titles the editors didn’t like to go to lunch with. Whine. S
    o I made KAYAKING THE FULL MOON a Kindle Select, checked the box for lending library, took the 70% in all countries.
    Ladies & Gentlemen, am I a shovel head? Should I have made it only Kindle? Not put it into any Prime or Lending libraries? Kept the royalties in Brazil & India at 35%??
    Clarification needed, and thanks!
    I have other great titles I would like to bring out as Kindles,
    Sincerely,
    Steve Chapple
    stevechapple.com

    Reply
  33. JC

    Kindle Unlimited has literally crushed overall commissions of my Kindle books since they changed the payouts based on the number of pages read. I am now experiencing a 55% decrease in overall commissions since the implementation of KU. This change really shows how greedy Amazon is.

    If I compare sales to even before KU was rolled out, my overall commissions payout has dropped 40%.

    I write high quality self-help books that don’t contain a lot of fluff. The commissions I receive on some of my books can be as low as .20 cents, if the reader finishes the entire book. So, someone can get a life-changing idea for literally pennies.

    All this hoopla about Amazon trying to make sales fair for all authors by commissions being based on pages read is a bunch of hooey. Amazing is now pocketing a ton more money since the change.

    Reply

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