Kindle Unlimited

Amazon recently launched “Kindle Unlimited” in the US – a subscription based service giving the subscriber unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of books in the Kindle library.

This comes on the heels of other such services from Scribd and Oyster.
It should come as no surprise that Indy authors like myself are being asked if their books will be a part of Kindle Unlimited. However, for me, the answer is sadly no, they won’t.

Now, I’d imagine that some people about now are rolling their eyes and saying “typical greedy author”. But hear me out on this while I explain my reasoning.

I publish my books though two platforms – Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Smashwords. That’s because while Smashwords is great for pushing books to a wide range of retailers, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Nobel and even the aforementioned Scribd and Oyster – it doesn’t do so well at pushing the books to Amazon, which is, after all, the retailer with by far the largest installed user base as a result of the Kindle.

That’s where KDP comes in – Amazon would clearly prefer authors use their own platform rather than one like Smashwords to get their books on user’s Kindles. Now, don’t get me wrong, KDP has its advantages – monthly royalty payments instead of quarterly for example. But as a publishing platform I don’t think it’s quite as flexible as Smashwords. But that really doesn’t matter. What matters is KDP Select.

KDP Select is voluntary program – you don’t have to enroll your books into it – which offers KDP authors various advantages like time-limited promotional tools including being able to make the book free for a short time, and access to the newly launched Kindle Unlimited (which it looks to me is just a replacement for the Kindle Owners Lending Library that comes with Amazon Prime – you also need to be in KDP Select to be a part of that).

But here’s the kicker – enrolment in KDP Select means that that book has to be an Amazon Exclusive for 90 days. And after that 90 days, it’s automatically re-enrolled for another 90 days.

So, what we’re saying is that for Indy authors like me, to be a part of Kindle Unlimited means the book cannot be sold at Google Play, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, Diesel, Scirbd, Oyster… the list goes on.

So, I have to make a choice, be part of the scheme – which I’m sure would be great for my readers who own Kindles – and cut off all those readers who don’t own Kindles – or don’t join the scheme and have those Kindle owners think I’m just being a ‘greedy author’.

It’s no contest. I would rather my work be available to the largest number of people and for those people to have the freedom to choose the device they read with or retailer they buy from.

Going Amazon Exclusive will, ultimately be bad for both readers and for writers. It will drive other retailers out of business, narrow consumer choice and lead to a situation where one company is all powerful – and at that point what is to stop them from raising the prices and reducing royalties. Nothing.

So please don’t be frustrated if you can’t find my books in Kindle Unlimited – I’m not being greedy – I’m making a stand. And I hope you will support me as I do.

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