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Having published through Smashwords, I’ve somewhat familiarized myself with Oyster and Scribd, how they allow customers to pay one membership price and read their stock of books. I think that’s a great way to help authors reach new readers and build a loyal following, especially for shorter works or series. Kindle’s new Unlimited program offers the same, but with one HUGE catch: Exclusivity.

I’m one of those folks who doesn’t like to put all her eggs in one basket, so I probably won’t be enrolling in their KDP Select program. If I don’t do that, I won’t be eligible to participate in Kindle Unlimited either. If they were to open the program to authors who wish to publish elsewhere, as well as with them, I’d jump right on it in a heartbeat.

I’m just curious how others feel about Kindle Unlimited. Are you willing to cut out every other ebook retailer and stick with Amazon exclusively just to participate in something that is, in fact, offered elsewhere, albeit not directly?

Also, and this is extremely important for indie authors, how about the pre-order feature that you lose access to with that exclusivity? Smashwords allows independent authors to offer their books up for pre-order in the hopes of accumulating sales for the big day, moving their book up in the ranks faster than otherwise possible. Kindle Direct Publishing does not allow indie authors or even small presses to offer pre-order options. This is an incredibly huge mark against them, in my book, and the main reason(s) why I don’t want to put my eggs in that particular basket.

Thoughts?

See also:

via Kindle Direct Publishing: Introducing Kindle Unlimited

via CNET: Kindle Unlimited: Good for customers, not so good for authors?

0 Comments for "Amazon's New Kindle Unlimited Program"

  • coldhandboyack

    I’m already in KDP, because I don’t want to babysit a volume of options. One thing is certain, Amazon has changed the game again. I’m wondering how this will all play out.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      I guess it’s a matter of priorities, you have to do what works for you. I’d rather put in the extra effort to babysit a volume of options. I like having options.

      From a business stance, Amazon is smart not to offer every Tom, Dick and Sally who wants to publish a book the option to offer pre-order. I do understand why they don’t allow indies to offer pre-order, too many people are fickle and too many of those offers not panning out would give them a bad reputation. From a business stance, I’m smart to stick with the publishing platform who does offer me the option to offer pre-order if that’s a feature I plan to use.

      Either way, I’ve yet to write a novel, so at this point I, too, am wondering how this will all play out. It doesn’t hurt to go into the game informed, though. I’ll be watching closely, and when the time comes to make a decision, I’ll feel confident in the choice I make.

      For now, that decision comes down to wether or not I’ll be using the pre-order feature. I have a novelette coming out soon, and I’m not offering it up for pre-order, so I probably will enroll in KDP Select. Depending on how well it does, I might keep it enrolled, or let the 90 days expire and go back to my options. But when I start writing novels, unless Amazon opens up that pre-order feature, I’ll babysit the volume of options. More options for me means more options for readers, too.

      I’m still too “small-fry” for this decision to have a huge impact. I don’t have a selection of books to choose from, I’ve yet to write anything longer than a novelette, and I don’t have a following of fans who are waiting for the next book to release. I still have plenty of time to refine my plans, but I do like to have a plan from the start. Pre-orders for my novels are a part of that plan, and KDP Select shuts the door on that part of my plan.

      Reply
      • coldhandboyack

        We’ll said. I’m small potatoes too. Kind of like selling books at a farmer’s market. I think Amazon might wind up destroying some of the other options. It’s a watch and wait game right now.

        Reply
      • Jess West

        That is an excellent analogy! Mind if I use that in an article? 😉

        Reply
  • walt walker

    I really don’t like the exclusivity that Amazon has introduced into the publishing world. Books should be available from any source, not just one. In related news, not all e-readers are Kindles. Let’s nip that in the bud before the Kleenex phenomenom takes root. Actually, I think it’s too late for that. But it can’t hurt to mention it.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      Agreed. I like that readers can grab a copy of my books for the Nooks, if they prefer.

      Reply
  • R.A. Williamson

    Sales on Amazon outstrip any other retailer by such a large margin (speaking not just from my limited experience, but also from best-selling authors I’ve talked to), that I don’t mind selling exclusively through them. (This may be different for other genres though—Romance and Erotica seems to do very well on Smashwords.) There are apps for people who don’t own Kindles, and none of my books will ever have DRM—I encourage readers to convert copies they’ve purchased to the format of their choice.

    As for Unlimited, I think it’s great, especially for short fiction that people can read quickly, but are less likely to fork over money for. I’ve already made money from the program and it’s only been live a few days. So as an author, and a reader, I’m on board 100%.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      Thanks for chiming in! To add to your point for those in your corner (not that we’re boxing, mind you- Jeez, that sounded bad), the pre-order option is still available to authors who’ve signed up for the Kindle Select Program as long as they are willing to offer the option on their own, correct? I’m not trying to decry my own decisions, though that may seem to be the case. I hope that independent authors who find this area to still be confusing can get a simple, honest explanation, from both sides of the fence.

      The option to sell a pre-order copy for whatever price you choose is still there for anyone willing to learn how to turn their website/blog/blogpost into a storefront. I’m not familiar with the process, and extremely hesitant to try it. This is my biggest hangup with the program, that my options for offering customers the chance to pre-order my book comes down to either running my own storefront or publishing to Smashwords.

      That, and I want to reach the readers who shop at B&N, just for example. Do Nook owners shop for DRM free books at Amazon, and go to the trouble of converting the file? I read paper or Kindle, so I’ve never faced the issue. I don’t know how many average readers would be willing to do so.

      As for DRM free works, I absolutely agree with you on that. I’ve very recently learned about DRM, (I know, shame on me) and I agree that the biggest obstacle books face, especially those by new authors, is obscurity. Piracy is the least of my worries.

      I do think the program is great for readers who won’t necessarily want to drop a buck or two on short fiction, but are willing to allocate a monthly stipend to read whatever they want. The program is also great for authors who participate in the program, and have their books read consistently more because of it. My problem is, once again, the requisite exclusivity on the part of the author. I guess I just don’t see the benefits of it.

      Oyster and Scribd offer the same type of program, but they don’t require you to publish with them and only them. I may be missing some critical element, but that just doesn’t add up. I can go with Kindle Unlimited and have ONE avenue of a “Netflix for books” type deal, or I can go with Smashwords and have two. I’d need to see some colorful bar charts with factual numbers of $ to authors participating in each to make a fair comparison. That is one area in which I’d rather not place my faith in word of mouth. And I have a feeling someone is going to make me eat those words, but if it helps me to improve personally and professionally, pass the ketchup.

      I’ll have to wait and see like the rest of the world. For now, I remain unconvinced that it’s the best option for me, personally, but I won’t say it’s an option that shouldn’t even be considered. In fact, I may take advantage of the program at some point. I’m a pisces and a woman to boot, and a thousand times more likely to change my mind just because. In the shifting sandscape that is the land of publishing, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

      Again, thanks so much for offering a different perspective, Ryan!

      Reply
      • R.A. Williamson

        Sounds like we have a bet, old bean. I’ll stick to Amazon, you do all the other things, and we’ll see who gets the fat stack first!

        Reply
      • Jess West

        My plan is intended to be beneficial over the long term, not the fastest. What say we evaluate our fat stacks in a year?

        Reply
  • Bettye Griffin

    I have 1 of my 14 indie titles enrolled in Select and Unlimited. Some authors seem to feel this is an all-or-nothing proposition, or at least that’s the impression I’m getting. I don’t see the harm in trying it with one book, although the book that’s enrolled isn’t the book I would have chosen (I would prefer to choose a book priced in the $2.99 range so I don’t earn less on borrows than I would sales). This book happened to be enrolled in Select because of a Countdown deal I did last month, so it automatically went into Unlimited.

    I blogged about the Unlimited program from a writer’s standpoint today: http://chew-the-fat-with-bettye.blogspot.com/2014/07/july-23-2014-kindle-unlimited-one.html

    Reply
    • Jess West

      That’s a good point, one I’m glad you brought up. The choice is to be made for each book, and, as I understand the terms, every 90 days. So it’s not like you can’t change your mind, one way or the other, and decide which books you’ll enroll in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, if any. Thanks for weighing in!

      Reply

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