Friday, July 18, 2014

Kindle Unlimited: Netflix gone awry?

Earlier this week, while trying to distract myself from writing TRAVEL AGENT, I saw a post on Twitter (and then, on Facebook) regarding a potential new program from Amazon entitled Kindle Unlimited. Anything Amazon does these days is news. In short, KU would be a Netflix-type avenue where customers pay $9.99 a month for the option of unlimited ebooks and audiobooks from the Amazon catalog, which grows exponentially by the day, the hour, the minute.

I see several issues with this. Keep in mind that I don't have a horse in the race. I'm not on the inside of Amazon, and the following may be speculation.

 But speculation is what I do best, so here you go. 

In order for this program to succeed, Amazon is going to need the content to pull this off, of course. Amazon's relationship with the Big Five is tenuous, at best; with Hachette, non-existent. The big question, of course, is that in order to get the Big Five in on this, there would have to be a boatload of money involved going toward their bank accounts. It leads me to ask: how much money Amazon would be willing to give the Big Five publishers after the current B.S. with Hachette, and the B.S. with the federal lawsuit regarding collusion between Apple and the Big Five against Amazon's business model. I highly doubt the Big Five will agree to this unless there's a big piece of the pie for them; remember that in their model, they take 52.5 percent of royalties after the 30 percent the retailer takes from the sale. After paying the agent, the author gets a measly 7.5 percent.

Ever since the advent of Kindle Digital Publishing, Amazon has tried to convince authors to abandon the above puny royalties offered by the Big Five in exchange for 70 percent with them (and while they haven't said it, there's also the 70 percent with Kobo and 65 percent with Nook, all for books between $2.99 and $9.99). Most have not taken advantage of it, thanks to (as J.A. Konrath puts it) the Stockholm Syndrome the authors feel toward their publishers, and I highly doubt the authors under the blanket of the Big Five will say good bye to the publishers in order to get in this program. Users of the program will look for the books offered by the Big Five; they won't be looking for me.

In addition, any author that wants their books in this program more than likely will have to join KDP Select, meaning no Nook, no Kobo, no iBooks, no Smashwords; I'm against putting all my eggs in one basket, and I've made a lot of money from those sources, and gained loads of readers from spreading the wealth. In addition, from my reading/research, royalties will be paid out of the same kitty Amazon gives for the lending library program (re: borrows), and while it may be speculation, there's no indication that fund will increase. More than likely, it would mean lower royalties than what trad-pubbed authors receive from their publishers as it is, probably a dime and a couple of pennies. 

Right now, it's so not worth it for either the publishers, the authors, or the readers.