Saturday 19 July 2014

New Amazon Deal - or No Deal

Amazon has just launched a new scheme with Netflix whereby subscribers pay $9.99 a month to access as many ebooks and audio books as they like. Authors who are signed up with the Select scheme on KDP automatically have their books enrolled in this programme. Authors get paid when a reader reads more than 10% of the book. Payments come from the Global Fund set aside for the lending library. I can't find any details of how much this will be.

   Pros and cons of this -

   Pros - For the reader - Brilliant for a fast reader who can read a book a week or more. IF traditional publishers join this scheme it will mean that readers can have access to more expensive books than they might currently read.

   Cons - For the reader - Unless you read really quickly, or have plenty of time to listen to audio books, you might as well buy a couple of paperbacks a month - visit The Works or browse the charity shops and you will find lots of books for less. Or actually buy your ebooks.

   Pros - For the author - I can't see a single one at the moment, especially for small publishers and self-published authors.
Cons -

  • You have to be in Select to benefit which means you cannot offer your book on any other platform.
  • Your books will show up on the new sales chart, but you won't get paid until the reader has read at least 10% of the book, which might well mean you never get paid. I have about 50 books on my Kindle I have not started yet, but I know the authors will have been paid. Some have been there since the day I bought the Kindle which is probably three years ago.  
    The best we can hope for is that not enough people sign up for this scheme to make it worth Amazon/Netflix's while. It is easy money for them. They share your subscription and then pay out peanuts to the authors.

    To me this is reminiscent of all those mail order book clubs you saw advertised in magazines way back when. Do they still exist? I know I signed up for a few in my time. Still have some of the books I've never read. The thing with those clubs, though, was that they sent you real physical books you could keep once you left the club. I'm not sure what happens to the books you have downloaded for your $9.99 once you decide you don't want to play any more. Are they all wiped from your cloud, or do they remain there? The explanation on the KDP site doesn't go into this.

    If this does become successful and enough people join, it will surely put an end to cheap self-published books, or at least make it more difficult for them to chart; assuming that downloads will be recorded in sales charts. And how will that work, when the book is ordered or when it reaches its 10% read target? Unless you can get through 10 books in a month, and I know some people can, readers will want those more expensive traditional published books so that they feel they are getting their monies worth. And I don't blame them. 

    So where will authors wanting to do promotional freebies or price-reduced countdown campaigns stand? Hopefully there will still be more people buying their books than signing up for the Kindle Unlimited scheme. We have to assume that the market for free books is totally different to that of paid books, which it probably is; but then puts a question mark against why people give their books away in the hope that readers will then go on to buy books. 

    Whether this works or not only time will tell. I hope it is successful if it means more sales for everyone but somehow I'm not totally convinced. Amazon are offering 600,000 books. If they get 600,000 people sign up that's a lot of dollars for them, but the possibility of only one sale per month for each book. I know it doesn't work like that, but it does mean there will be an awful lot of books that are not touched and even more work for the authors trying to get noticed.

    What do you think of this scheme? Will it help or hinder self-published authors? Feel free to leave a comment or rate this post below.


  1. If the reader in the month plan can't get the current big name books for free, readers will purchase them outside of the plan, thus creating a steady income from subscripbers for Amazon.

  2. I think the plan could be of benefit to me as a self-published author. People who don't know my work can try it with no risk on their part, and when they read 10% of one of my books, I'll get the same payment I would have gotten if they borrowed it through Kindle Prime. I've picked up some new fans through Kindle Prime who borrowed one of my books on a whim and went on to read the others. The payout is a little less than I would get from a sale, but I think it's incremental business. I don't believe it's going to displace many outright purchases because of the pricing. I'm not sure how many readers will see it as a good deal. It looks relatively expensive to me, given how many of the included titles are relatively inexpensive.

    1. Hopefully it might find new readers, but will people really buy books that are quite cheaply priced? As a self-published author I assume you don't charge very much for your books, I usually charge $2.99. Although this scheme only offers 600,000 titles instead of the 2.5 million+ on the full catalogue the chances of people finding any particular book unless they know about it first are quite slim. Good luck with your work.

  3. I think the $9.99/mo charge will be prohibitive. Some may join it, at first, then come to the truth and realize they only read about 4 books a month and at $.99 X 4 -- it is cheaper just to buy the book. I could be wrong. I pay the $8 for Netflix and watch it when I think about it - not very often. They're making $$ on me! LOL.

    1. I feel the same way. I'm a slow reader as it is, so the 'all you want' doesn't really work for me. It's not like an 'all you can eat' buffet. Netflix is making money out of me too, but i have selected so many things i daren't leave before i've watched them all. In the UK there are lots of ways to buy books very cheaply for those who still want paper.

  4. Short term, this is going to be very disruptive, in my view. Amazon is offering the first month's subscription for free with no requirement to continue after that (though readers need to opt out to discontinue). So, effectively that means free books for a month for anyone who joins. As Charles says, authors receive a share of the KOLL global pot (currently $2) once 10% or more of a book is read. BigPub has not yet joined, so it's just indies and small pub that are in competition - that should deliver opportunities for indie authors who can achieve any visibility within the scheme. Long term, things might not look so good. You can only enter Unlimited by joining Select, tying a book in for 90 days and meaning it can't be published anywhere else during that time. So, you would have to forsake royalty from other sources during that period. Also, there's no guarantee that amazon will increase the global pot sufficiently to maintain the royalty payment at $2 per read - in fact many consider this to be unsustainable with rates needing to fall to much lower levels in the future. Overall, it's one if those watersheds where you need to decide whether you 're in or out. I've decided to give it a go.....

    1. Each author must make his/her own choice as to what is best for them. At Blue Hour Publishing we cannot see any benefit to being tied to Amazon. When our books were in select we had a few borrows. Those borrows have been outstripped by sales on other platforms since leaving Select. Looking at the price of audio books as opposed to ebooks, I think this is where most custom will go as audio books do appear rather expensive. It would be worth paying ten dollars a month to listen to a few audio books, which you can listen to when driving or cooking the dinner, when you couldn't be reading. I'm not sure how much Amazon will pay. They say their fund is two million dollars, do they pay that out every month or just a percentage? At least with SCRIBD you get the same as if you had sold the book. And their subs are cheaper although I don't think they do audio books.