There have been hints and rumors flying around about this, and today it is official. Amazon has started a program for Kindle books called Kindle Unlimited. For a monthly subscription, Kindle owners can ‘rent’ an unlimited number of eBooks, and they will remain on your Kindle as long as your subscription is active (i.e., paid for). If you don’t pay your subscription fee, the books will disappear from your Kindle.
What will this cost? $9.99 a month, but whether you can get it on a month-by-month basis or have to commit to a year, I don’t know.
Is there an advantage to this program for readers? I suppose if you’re a very quick reader, you could get a lot more books on your Kindle for $9.99 than you could if you just bought them outright. The books they offer include non-indie authors as well, though someone wrote that Stephen King and some other renown writers of espionage-type novels were not included. Amazon does have a webpage about the program showing some of the books: (I just discovered that the link I had posted to the Unlimited page is not working, but if you go to the Amazon homepage, there is a link there: http://www.amazon.com)
How does this differ from KOLL (Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) for Prime members? Under that program, Prime members can only ‘borrow’ one book a month, whereas with Unlimited, as its name implies, the number you can borrow is unlimited. Of course with Unlimited, you aren’t getting free shipping on anything else you order from Amazon as you do with Prime.
Is Unlimited an advantage to indie authors? That remains to be seen. You must have your book/s enrolled in KDP Select in order for them to be eligible for Unlimited. Instead of your royalty based on the sale price, you will get a prorated amount (depending on the number of borrowers that month) from the Global Fund Amazon sets up each month. Some KDP Forum members were complaining that their royalty if the book sold rather than was simply borrowed would be more than the prorated amount and therefore Unlimited wasn’t financially beneficial to them. I have had one book to date in KDP Select. The enrollment period ended this week, and I don’t plan to put any other books into it as it didn’t benefit me at all, but some people swear by it.
The big disadvantage to Kindle Unlimited as far as indie authors are concerned is the fact that the author does not get any kind of payment until the borrower has read at least 10% of the book. I know it can sometimes take me a long time to get to a book I’ve downloaded on my Kindle for any number of reasons: I’ve forgotten I’ve downloaded it, my Kindle isn’t handy when I feel like reading, I’ve got an actual physical book I want to read, etc. And in the meantime, the indie author under the Unlimited program isn’t being paid, and if the book is never read and the Unlimited member lets his/her subscription lapse, the author never gets a cent. (If the owner does read the book, or at least 10% of it, the author only gets paid the first time it is read, not for each additional reading. This, though is the same as with a physical book; those authors don’t get additional royalties if loyal readers re-read their works multiple times.)
That’s the program as I understand it. If I’ve misstated anything, I apologize in advance.
So what do you think? Does Kindle Unlimited appeal to you, as an indie author or as a reader? As both? As neither?