Read Unlimited Kindle E-books
Today, Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited:
- For $9.99 per month, a customer can now read (and listen to) an unlimited number of Kindle e-books.
- There are 600,000 books to choose from. The books are enrolled in KDP Select.
- All KDP Select books are automatically included. (But authors can opt out of KDP Select by completing a form. See below.)
- Customers don’t need to be in Amazon Prime to enjoy the benefits of Kindle Unlimited.
Authors can learn more about it at Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), where there is also a new form for those who wish to opt out of KDP Select: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AA9BSAGNO1YJH.
Is Kindle Unlimited Good for Authors?
In order to participate in Kindle Unlimited, an e-book must be enrolled in KDP Select.
Here are some advantages of enrolling in KDP Select:
- You will be paid the equivalent of one ‘borrow’ when a customer (A) downloads your Kindle e-book and (B) reads past 10% of the e-book as part of the Kindle Unlimited Program. Historically, a borrow has equated to approximately a $2 royalty.
- Many customers will be trying out Kindle Unlimited in the coming months. These customers probably won’t be buying books any other way except through Kindle Unlimited for as long as they remain in the program.
- You can use either Kindle Countdown Deals or free promos (but not both) as a promotional tool. The value of these promotional tools will probably be diminished as any customer who has Kindle Unlimited won’t gain anything from Countdown Deals or freebies. However, there will still be many customers who aren’t in Kindle Unlimited.
The main disadvantage of enrolling in KDP Select is that you must make the e-book edition of your book exclusive to Kindle:
- Your e-book can’t be published through Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, your own website in PDF, or anywhere else in electronic format as long as your book is enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon is very strict about this and does automatic checks to find e-books violating the terms and conditions.
- This exclusivity persists for 90-day periods. If you decide to opt out of KDP Select, you must go to your KDP bookshelf and uncheck the box for automatic renewal. Then you must still wait for the 90-day period to end before you’re eligible to publish your e-book elsewhere. (But if you’re presently in KDP Select, there is an immediate opt-out option available right now. See below.)
Is it worth enrolling in KDP Select? That’s the million-dollar question. This was a heated debate prior to Kindle Unlimited.
The only way to really know for sure is to try it both ways. (Note that you can experience lengthy delays and problems trying to unpublish your e-book from other retailers in order to switch back into KDP Select.)
Kindle Unlimited may be a compelling reason to enroll in KDP Select. There will be many authors returning to KDP Select to try it out. There are also authors opting out with the introduction of KDP Select. Everyone is trying to decide which side of the fence has the greener grass. By the way, I’m staying in KDP Select.
- Many customers will be trying out Kindle Unlimited, so the program will be popular during the early months.
- Customers in Kindle Unlimited won’t be buying any books that aren’t in the program.
Want out of KDP Select?
Suppose you’re already in KDP Select and you’re thinking, “They didn’t ask me if I wanted to participate in Kindle Unlimited.”
Not a problem. Visit your KDP bookshelf. Click the Learn More link where it mentions Kindle Unlimited. Then there is yet another Learn More link to click. Then you can click the link entitled, “Complete this Contact Us form.”
Complete that form to opt out immediately. You don’t need to wait until your 90-day period ends, but only if you complete and submit this form (so don’t use the usual method of unchecking the box for automatic renewal).
You might want to consider this choice carefully before you opt out.
What about Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime charges a hefty annual fee (though it turns out to be a little cheaper than 12 months of Kindle Unlimited) and only allows one borrow per month.
Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month, but allows unlimited reading of KDP Select titles.
That one borrow per month pales in comparison. However, there are still many other benefits of Amazon Prime, such as free 2-day shipping.
Customers who bought Amazon Prime primarily to borrow books for free are likely to switch to Kindle Unlimited when their Prime memberships run out.
Customers who bought Amazon Prime for other reasons will probably keep it, whether or not they join Kindle Unlimited.
More Notes about Kindle Unlimited
- How many books can you really read in a month? That comes out to $120 per year. Would you spend that much in a year on books? $9.99 is a great deal for those who read avidly, but not very enticing for those who don’t.
- You can’t just horde books. If you cancel your Kindle Unlimited membership, you automatically lose access to all the books you downloaded through the program.
- Amazon has added $800,000 to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) fund for July, 2014, bringing the total July fund up to $2,000,000. This will help to compensate for the additional downloads through Kindle Unlimited.
- Borrows usually pay a little over $2 each per month. When Amazon launches a new program, borrows usually pay $1.50 or less per book for the first month or so, but then Amazon has historically been pretty good at adjusting the KOLL fund so that they pay $2 or more per borrow. However, there will be many more downloads through Kindle Unlimited than there ever were borrows through Amazon Prime, so borrows might pay significantly less than normal, at least in the early months.
- Kindle Unlimited is presently only available to US customers, but there appear to be plans to expand.
- You won’t receive any payment for downloads through Kindle Unlimited until a customer passes the 10% mark. Just downloading your book isn’t sufficient. So your friends and family, for example, might think they’re supporting you through the download, whereas they won’t be supporting you at all if they don’t pass the 10% point.
- Amazon is promoting Audible Audiobooks through Kindle Unlimited. Not only do you get free downloads of KDP Select books, you also get free audiobooks. This will entice audiobook customers to try out Kindle Unlimited.
- What about those really short books? Now customers can read short books for free (but they can read long books for fee, too), provided the books are in KDP Select and they customer has Kindle Unlimited. A customer might read 2 paragraphs of a very short story and that author will earn just as much of a royalty as if a customer read several chapters of an epic fantasy or perhaps a whole book of an omnibus. But will customers be buying short stories? They might feel it’s a better value to shop for books that are ordinarily priced $5.99 and up and have hundreds of thousands of words. Time will tell.
- This may be great for children’s books. You can read your child 30 different stories in a month for $9.99, reading one bedtime story every night. Children’s authors should be advertising this benefit to customers. It can help children’s authors sell more e-books through Kindle Unlimited.
What do you think about Kindle Unlimited?
Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
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