Authors: Should You Take Advantage of Kindle Unlimited?

On July 18, we witnessed the unveiling of the Kindle Unlimited program. It was supposed to completely change the way readers can access books. Unfortunately, it’s come in for a lot of criticism, and that has made a lot of authors wonder whether they should even consider enrolling in Kindle Unlimited.

We investigate this issue in this article. Read on to find out more! 

The Criticism

The Huffington Post became the leading light in the charge against the Kindle Unlimited program. They said the $120 fee for Kindle Unlimited was essentially a glorified library card. They also pointed to the fact the Big Five publishers of Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette, and HarperCollins were absent from the collection provided by Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited allows readers to check out books and give them a try. The catch is the author only gets paid if the reader gets through a certain portion of their book. At this point, it’s about 10% of the book to qualify for an actual payment.

Main Takeaways

We looked into some recent author interviews about the program posted online. After taking a look at what they were saying, we got the following messages:

  • Authors still get paid through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited.
  • Authors aren’t getting paid just pennies for their work, like with many music streaming services. Although there weren’t many authors sharing their numbers in the public forum, so we can only take their word for it.
  • The primary complaint about KDP Select is the fact authors can’t sell their work through any other outlet for 90 days, although this doesn’t apply to print books. Most authors didn’t enroll in the program simply because they wanted to sell through platforms like Nook and Kobo.

What Do the Authors Say?

Megan Chance said she didn’t publish through KDP Select because three of her books are being sold through Lake Union Publishing and Skyscape. Publishing through Select would prevent her from doing this. Kindle Unlimited acts as if a read equals a sale, so she still receives royalties just when someone reads her books. 

RJ Blain said it was too much to ask to enroll her books in KDP Select and not publish them anywhere else. She said a significant complaint from people was she was only able to sell her books through Amazon itself. By not selling exclusively on Amazon, she was able to extend her reach.

Catherine Ryan Hyde wanted to look more at the statistics when she thought about whether to consider Kindle Unlimited. She said she noticed an increase in sales when her books were available through KDP Select and the Kindle Unlimited program. Her books that weren’t actually saw some slight drops in sales, assuming they moved at all.

Jennifer Foehner Wells chose to publish her debut novel Fluency in KDP Select. She said that it was important to use platforms like Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select because Amazon owns 50% of the market share. She said it’s a great way for newer authors to establish a presence in the reading community before targeting other platforms later on.

Amazon’s Angle

Amazon’s angle isn’t to destroy libraries, as some critics would have people believe. They want to be able to allow people with all sorts of e-readers to view works from Amazon. The unveiling of Kindle Unlimited makes this easier than ever.

What’s also clear is the fact Kindle Unlimited does bring some benefits. Due to the way reads are counted as sales, this compensates writers for the fact people can view books without initially buying them. We’ll start to see whether it really catches on in the next few months.