Since Amazon rolled out its Kindle Unlimited initiative, enabling subscribers to borrow as many ebooks as they desire for just $9.99 a month, debate has intensified over whether the scheme is good or bad for participating authors.
As participating authors – all our eight book titles are registered in the scheme – we have followed the debate with interest. And we know we are not alone: social media is full of author speculation on the merits or otherwise of Kindle Unlimited.
One of the best summaries of the new initiative (in our opinion) is offered by American author and publishing veteran Michael J. Sullivan in a recent contribution to DigitalBookworld.com’s excellent site. In an article headed “Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens”, Sullivan summarizes the scheme and then perceptively dissects it.
Author Michael J. Sullivan…critical of Kindle Unlimited.
Excerpts from Sullivan’s article follow:
… Historically, Amazon has been good about treating self-published authors and traditionally published authors equally. There are some exceptions…but for the most part both self- and traditionally published authors have enjoyed equal treatment. They share similar exposure on best-seller lists and top-rated lists, and Amazon’s “cut” from sales have been the same for both groups (30% under the agency model). In fact, when the agency model went into affect, Amazon raised self-publisher’s royalty from 35% to 70% to match what traditional publishers were getting. But now with the roll-out of Kindle Unlimited, we see two very different treatments:
Self-published authors MUST be exclusive to Amazon (except for a handful of best-selling authors) and can’t sell their books on other sites. Traditionally published books have no such exclusivity requirement and can be sold wherever the publisher wishes.
Self-published authors are paid from a pool set by Amazon each month. They have no idea how much they will be paid per book. Traditionally published books get paid exactly as they would if a sale were made. They know exactly what the unit price will be for each book and are not relying on the Amazon’s whim as far as what their unit price will be.
Why the difference?
Whenever I speak about a situation where an entity (retailers or publishers) treat authors poorly the answer is always the same: “because they can.” The publishers would never agree to the terms the self-published authors are getting. What Amazon is offering traditional publishers (full wholesale price without exclusivity) is a pretty good deal…
…They are giving publishers such a fair deal because there is no way the publishers would agree otherwise. Even with such attractive terms, I suspect the big-five won’t opt in their titles. But the self-published authors can be had for much less. They have been conditioned through several years of Select and those in Select are more than willing to give up other venues for higher visibility on Amazon…
…To add insult to injury, the current payout system has self-published authors subsidizing the payments of the traditionally published titles, much the way best-selling titles subsidize books that aren’t commercial successes. By this I mean that one party is getting less to offset the costs of someone else’s works.
I’m disappointed with Amazon for not offering the same terms to both self- and traditionally-published authors. Authors have grown accustomed to poor treatment from Publisher’s, and because of the way Kindle Unlimited has been rolled out, they can add Amazon as just one more multi-billion-dollar company taking advantage of them.
To read the article in full go to: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/kindle-unlimiteds-two-tier-system-makes-some-authors-second-class-citizens/
Happy reading! –Lance & James