A few months ago, I shared my initial thoughts on Kindle Unlimited, the at-that-time new program Amazon had introduced for ebooks. You can read the previous post for all the details, but the basic premise of Kindle Unlimited is that you pay $9.99 per month to read all the ebooks you want.
When I shared my initial thoughts, I said that I wasn’t really sure if I felt it was a good program or not. After several months, I’ve come to a few conclusions. These are, of course, only my opinions and may not be shared by other authors who’ve been in the program or by Amazon customers who use it.
Short version of my opinion: As an author, I don’t like the program.
It had a rather dramatic, negative effect on my sales. My actual sales dropped drastically. Prime borrows and KU borrows were both put under the same heading, and paid out at the same rate, which dropped like a lead weight to an amount that was (for lack of a better word) pathetic. What I got paid for a borrow was less than half of what I would get for a sale. While writing is not all about the money for me, being able to support my family is rather important and the changes that KU brought about were making that harder, if not absolutely impossible.
KU also made Kindle Countdown Deals pretty much pointless. Marking your book down to $.99 doesn’t matter anymore when they can simply borrow the book. There’s no incentive to snag a great deal before it’s too late when they know that they can borrow it anytime with their subscription – and be out nothing, because they can simply return the book and move on.
I still have not signed up to use it as a customer, and I’ll explain why now. I don’t feel it has many benefits to me as a customer.
First, there are still no big name authors included in the program. For me, I would be more likely to use the program if the big names were included – their books are generally priced much higher than an indie author’s, and therefore, I would feel it was more useful if I could use it to get those more expensive books under the umbrella of my monthly subscription price. Indie authors usually price their books low enough that I am more willing to spend that money, and I would have to read many more of them than I would the big names to make the subscription price worth it.
Somewhat related to the fact that there are no big names, libraries often have ebooks you can check out. My local library only allows me to check out two ebooks, but I recently discovered that I could get a library card for the library in the next county, which has a huge university. That library allows me to check out 20 books at a time. While I can’t imagine actually doing so, that higher limit allows me more freedom and flexibility. Additionally, while my local library rarely has new books available for Kindle, the other one has tons of new books. I often have to place a hold and wait my turn, but given that I already have plenty of other books to read, I don’t mind waiting my turn when it can save me some money.
Overall I would say, both as an author and as a customer, I don’t feel the Kindle Unlimited program is really that great. Do I think it could be? I suppose, with some tweaks, it could be made it something I would find beneficial. But as it stands right now, I’m not impressed.
What about you? Whether you’re an author or simply a reader, what are your thoughts on Kindle Unlimited?