Saturday, September 20, 2014

After a month, how's Kindle Unlimited playing out?

After the launch of's new Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscription library, I waited to see how it would progress, then in the middle of last month I made up my mind.  I withdrew my books from other vendors (specifically iTunes, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and Kobo) and listed them exclusively in Amazon's KDP Select program so as to make them eligible for KU.

It's been just over 30 days since I did that, and the initial results have been very satisfactory for me.  I've found that the number of loans, and the fees Amazon pays for a loan under the KU program, have added up to between three and four times as much as I would have made (based on past performance) from all three of the other vendors.  From a financial perspective, there's no question that the switch has made sense.  The additional income is particularly useful at this time because of the cyclical nature of book sales.  Every time I release a new book it'll sell well for six weeks or so, then go into a decline.  It'll lift the sales of my other books with it, and then they'll decline as well.  Right now, since I've delayed the release of my next novel to give me more time to make it a better book, my sales figures aren't great;  so the added income stream from KU loans is very welcome indeed.  (I'm looking forward to a  renewed boost in sales when Maxwell Volume 4 comes out in a month or two.)

Bestselling independent author Hugh Howie has found that the KU program nets him less money, but more readers.  He argues that the latter is just as important (if not more so) to authors than their current income stream, in terms of future sales.  (In his case, of course, selling hundreds of thousands of books a year, this is no problem for him at all.  I daresay some other authors, more dependent on day-to-day income, might not share his views.)  Since I've found that the KU program has brought me both more readers and an increased income stream, I'm definitely in agreement with him about its benefits.

I apologize to those of you who want to buy my books in formats other than Amazon's Kindle, but right now it's simply not financially viable for me to offer them for sale.  Of course, I don't use DRM encoding on my books, so if you buy the Kindle edition you can convert it to other formats such as EPUB using a free program called Calibre, which I use myself and recommend.  (Calibre can't handle DRM-encoded books, but if the DRM is stripped from the files, it works just fine with them.)  I'm going to look into whether I can supply .PDF versions of my books independently of other vendors;  however, as they're presently structured, Amazon's terms of service won't allow me to do this.  It may be possible to have an arrangement that if you've bought the Kindle edition of the book, and want a .PDF version as well at no additional charge, I may be able to supply this.  I'm talking to Amazon representatives at present, and I'll let you know if it gets the green light.

(By the way, if you're looking for free reader software for .PDF books and other formats, take a look at Adobe Digital Editions.  I find it much easier to use - and easier on the eyes - than Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Recommended.)



Anonymous said...

How does payment work if you read a book with KU, but then decide to buy it? By the way, I'm waiting impatiently for Laredo 2. I enjoyed it immensely.


Peter said...

As far as I'm aware, if you borrow it and read more than 10% of the borrowed copy, I get a KU reader fee: then, if you buy a copy once you've finished the borrowed version, I get paid for the sale as well. (Of course, a KU subscription costs you $9.95 per month after the initial free 30-day trial period, so it's not worthwhile for you to do the borrow-then-buy thing on a long-term basis.)

Jon said...

Well, that's good news for you, and added inconvenience for those of us who have to take the extra step of converting with Calibre so we can read your books. Sometimes, the conversion process doesn't go well, even with DRM free books, and one ends up doing some guessing as to what a couple of paragraphs may have said here and there throughout the book.
Ah well.

Peter said...

Jon, I'm really sorry about the extra hassle. I'd love to offer my books in multiple formats across multiple platforms . . . but I have to make a living. If I can't do that by diversifying, I have to stay with the outlet that makes me the most money. Right now, that's Amazon.

naleta said...

I'm late to the comments, as usual, but I want to clarify one thing about Calibre. It will handle DRM files with one of the standard plug-ins that Kovid Goyal links to at his site. Just like using Adobe reader, you input your purchasing info when you first open a file in Calibre. The plug-in that then strips the DRM is an additional plug-in that you have to search for (not difficult, but for legal reasons, he can't link directly to it).7462