Okay, so a bunch of my friends are confused about what Amazon is up to with the Unlimited program. Let’s call it what it is: competition advantage. The program offers both authors and readers several advantages, though. Really the only ones who aren’t in favor of the program are those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in the publishing world where the major houses dominate.
This is what’s good about the program:
For Readers: The benefits come from being able to download and try any book that is on the KDP program, roughly 600,000 titles, regardless of whether he or she owns a Kindle device. If you have a Kindle application on your computer, tablet or phone you can use the Unlimited program as well as those who own Kindles. The first month of the program is a free trial. You can borrow up to 10 books at a time. Then you must return a book in order to download your next book. But, unlike the previous and still existing lending library program Amazon has with KDP, it is not limited to one title a month or restricted to only those who own a device. After the trial period, the reader can continue in the program for $9.99 a month. Also, the reader can still purchase any book they want to keep as a private library item.
For authors: Unlimited virtually eliminates the advantage to pricing an eBook lower. A reader will no longer be as sensitive to price in determining which books to download. In fact a reader may be more inclined to read higher priced books because, well, they cost the same $9.99 a month on the plan. For the reader there may be perceived additional value in books with higher retail prices but, for the author, higher retail means a larger share of the lending pie when it comes to paying out royalties. Ten percent of the book is the threshold past which royalties are paid. Ebooks already display at least 10% o the book for readers to sample. So effectively there is no change in that. Once a reader advances beyond that point sale is recorded for the author’s account and it also counts for ranking purposes. Yes, the royalty is lower than if the book had actual been sold but here you have to think in terms of it as revenue the author would not get otherwise. It is a sale made to someone who previously may have not downloaded the book al all. Again, the advantage is to the author. Unlimited expands access to the library download feature in KDP that to this point only Kindle device owners could use. Authors in the KDP program are competing with 600,000 titles for Unlimited as opposed to 1.4 million titles for the overall market. As a result, it should be somewhat easier for authors to climb in the sales rankings with this new program.
For small publishers and those who self-publis: Unlimited gives access to a range of marketing features through Amazon KDP that traditional major publishers are less inclined to use. Although eBooks must be listed exclusively with Amazon for them to be on KDP that may not be such a bad thing considering the marketshare the 800-pound gorilla has. Major publishers do not like the KDP program because it required exclusivity which they perceive restricts their distribution options while also eroding their control over the market. However, if they were to participate in the program all the advantages I’ve mentioned would work for them as well, except that their eBooks would not be available through every distributor out there.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I think this is a good thing for authors and readers alike.
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