Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It?
Reviews are mixed but if you have ever wondered is Kindle Unlimited worth it, this article is going to help shed some light on the subject.
What Is Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited is a subscription based program created by Amazon.com that allows its members access to several thousands (in fact hundreds of thousands) of books that are part of the program. Note that last phrase "part of the program" as that is important in making a decision about whether to enroll.
Pros and Cons of the Kindle Unlimited Program
- Access to Many Books Across Several Categories
- Inexpensive When Compared to Buying Books Individually
- You can read the books as many times as you want
- Authors get a piece of the pool of money, so by reading the participating books, you support authors.
- Any notes or annotations that you make will remain even after you return the books and check them back out later.
- For self publishers, having access to this subscription can be a great research resource (more on this below).
- Audio books are also included to some extent
- A three month free subscription to Amazon's Audible is included with membership
- You need to really love to read in order to make the service worth the monthly subscription
- Amazon is changing the way it's compensating authors participating in the program in a way that may result in less commissions. This could force many authors to withdraw their books from the program after they are allowed to do so.
- There have been complaints by several members that the books Amazon makes available as part of the program are not current.
- Due to the large number of self publishers involved in the program, spelling and grammatical errors are more prevalent than books from major publishers.
- You will not be able to satisfy much of your wish list with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.
- There is a maximum check out of 10 books.
Amazon is Changing How it Compensates Authors for Kindle Unlimited
Let's first start off with the original compensation plan. Amazon was (and for a short while, still is) paying participating authors about $1.40 per book that is checked out. This is provided the reader reads 10% of that book.
Seems like a pretty decent pay out for the most part. And for a short while it was working.
But then authors came to discover that they get exactly the same amount for very short books as they do for long books. The 10% rule for a book that is 25 pages only requires the reader to read 2.5 pages. That same rule for a 200 page book, requires the reader to read 20 pages in order to get paid.
The takeaway? Short books are flooding the Kindle Unlimited platform. Why bother including a 200 page book, when you can write a short novella in practically no time and have a better chance of readers getting through 10%?
The following is a summary (taken directly from Amazon's site) of the changes in payout:
In looking at the three scenarios above, it may be tempting to divide the amounts earned by the number of books sold or dividing the amounts earned by the number of readers, but Amazon's new payout structure is by the page. In looking at each scenario:
- $1,000 divided by the 10,000 page (100 page book x 100 times read) = 10 cents per page.
- $2,000 divided by 20,000 pages read = 10 cents per page
- $1,000 / 10,000 = 10 cents a page (same amount but read on average only have the way through, i.e. 100 pages.
Amazon conveniently ran the numbers at the high end, i.e., $10 Million in the pool. The average of the pools have been smaller than that and often comes in at the $1 Million mark. Running those numbers would yield to 1 cents per page. Unless Amazon can keep the pool to the higher amounts and keep the number of authors participating low (or a combination of both) this program doesn't seem to be encouraging to authors.
I will say though, that it does answer the situation of flooding short books onto the market to game the system. As you can see from the 3rd scenario above, longer books are better rewarded under this new system. The reader only read half the book and received the same commission as the other two scenarios.
This is a very narrow view of this scene however. It speaks nothing to the quality of the books which is a reason why people would want to (or not) read the book in its entirety.
It also gives a slight edge to fiction writers as most people that start a fiction book they find intriguing have a higher chance of reading it to completion than a non fiction piece where the reader got the answer they were looking in say, the first chapter and may not continue reading to completion. I use many non fiction books only as reference and when I find what I am looking for, I also move on.
Will Authors Continue with the Program?
It remains to be seen if the new changes will retain current authors and recruit new ones. Of course, more authors will require more subscriptions in order to keep a decent enough pool to make it worthwhile. If authors pull their books from the system (authors may have multiple books) and this is done on any large scale, the service itself is going to take a hit as to the number of books that are available.
Amazon has Gotten Quite Competitive
Gone are the days where you crank out a book, throw it up on Amazon and then sit back and watch the money roll in. There are many more players in the game, especially on Amazon. But there are also many other book distribution that in their entirety, can easily compete with Amazon, or at the very least supplement sales of books. Amazon Unlimited requires its authors to be exclusive when enrolled in the program. When authors discover that they can get higher sales than they can with Kindle Unlimited in other distribution sites, they may simply jump ship and leave Amazon.
The Kindle Unlimited program is a part of what is known as KDP Select. When authors choose to enroll in KDP Select, they are automatically enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program. While enrolled in the program (which renews every 90 days unless authors opt out) authors cannot publish anywhere else (except CreateSpace which is owned by Amazon). Should authors choose not to enroll in KDP Select, they are free to publish on Amazon and anywhere else they choose.
I Have a Kindle Unlimited Membership
I have several books published (some under Kindle Unlimited and some under various other distributors). Therefore I do a serious amount of research for my books. I find my subscription to Kindle Unlimited to be quite useful and worth the money for what I need it for. I tell you this because if you plan to do any publishing yourself, you may find that a subscription could help you as well.
Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It?
If you do a search on that term above, you'll see results that are split close to 50/50. Perhaps there is a slight edge to those that don't like it. I think if you look at all the pros and cons outlined in this article and come up with your own, you will get a better feel for whether it's right for you. They do give you a 30 day trial so it is at least worth giving it a shot. You can easily gauge within 30 days if this seems like it could be useful to you.
As of right now at the time of writing this article, I feel the program is worth it for my needs.
I'd Love to Hear What You Think
If you do decide to enroll in the program, could you come back here and let me know what your thoughts are on the program? I would love to hear what you have to say about it. Even if you decide not to enroll, please come on back here and tell me why you decided against it. Simply leave your comments in comment section below. Thanks.