Friday, August 15, 2014
Amazon's Kindle Unlimited has changed my plans again
A few months ago I took the decision to remove my older titles from Amazon's KDP Select program, which offers certain advantages to independent authors in return for their books being available exclusively through Amazon.com. I duly listed my older books at Apple's iTunes store, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, offering them in different formats for those using non-Kindle e-readers. Sales through those vendors have been very sluggish indeed - last month they were less than 1% of my sales at Amazon.com - but I hoped to build volume in the other channels over time.
However, last month Amazon.com launched its new Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. It's a subscription service that, for $9.99 per month, gives you unlimited access to over 600,000 titles, from some of the best-known books by successful authors such as J. K. Rowling and Michael Lewis, to independent authors such as myself. All books in the KDP Select program are automatically available to KU readers. My only book currently in that program, 'War to the Knife', racked up almost 300 loans in the 12 days during July that KU was operational. Amazon pays a fee to authors every time their book is borrowed by a KU subscriber and more than 10% of it is read. I was astonished to find that 'loan income' from my sole book in the KU program far outstripped sales through non-Amazon channels for my other four books.
I diversified away from sole reliance on Amazon.com because I didn't want to "have all my eggs in one basket", so to speak: but putting food on the table has a hard reality all its own. It appears the "borrowing income" from KU will far exceed sales income through non-Amazon channels for the foreseeable future, at least as far as my books are concerned. Therefore, over the next week or two I'll be pulling my books out of the Apple iTunes store, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. As soon as that process is complete (hopefully not later than 1st September), I'll re-list them all as part of the KDP Select program and make them available through KU. They'll all stay in that program for at least three months while I evaluate how well they're doing, and decide whether to continue it or try to diversify outlets once more.
So, friends, if you want my books in non-Kindle formats, this is a heads-up. You need to get them within the next couple of days, before they're taken down, otherwise your only option will be to buy (or borrow) the Kindle versions and read them via a free app for your non-Kindle device such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but I have to earn a living; and I'd be my own latest Doofus Of The Day if I didn't take advantage of this opportunity.