Here's the message Kindle Select customers received in their email today:
Today we are excited to introduce Kindle Unlimited-–a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. Customers will be able to read as many books as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles while subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. All books enrolled in KDP Select
with U.S. rights will be automatically included in Kindle Unlimited.
KDP Select authors and publishers will earn a share of the KDP Select global fund each time a customer accesses their book from Kindle Unlimited and reads more than 10% of their book-–about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books-–as opposed to a payout when the book is simply downloaded. Only the first time a customer reads a book past 10% will be counted.
KDP Select books will also continue to be enrolled in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL) available to Amazon Prime customers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Japan where authors will continue to earn a share of the KDP Select global fund when their book is borrowed. KOLL borrows will continue to be counted when a book is initially downloaded.
For July, we've added $800,000 to the fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.
Learn more about Kindle Unlimited. Visit your Bookshelf to enroll your titles in KDP Select, and click on "Manage Benefits" to get started.
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team
What's not to like about all that? Quite a bit, as it turns out.
1. In order to participate in this program, an author must remove his book from all other outlets. If you sell your books to Nook users, or in Apple's iBooks, or in other distributors' catalogues, you have to remove them completely. Can you spell monopoly?
2. The Kindle Unlimited agreement says the author will receive "a share of the global fund" each month for every time a book is accessed. But "Share" is not defined, and we already know that the "Global Fund" varies in amount from month to month.So there's no solid information about how much each book access will amount to, except for the fact that it is always subject to change (and I'm betting that change won't be for the better!) The author gives up a set royalty for a gamble. And just like a casino, you can be pretty sure that the house [read: Amazon] will always win.
3. There's another small detail that bothers me. The author doesn't get paid until the reader reads more than 10% of the book. Now, how many times have you purchased a book and then discovered that you don't have time to read it right away? How many books are in your own "to be read" stack? So in this new arrangement, the author has to wait for you to read the book before he gets paid. Have you ever gone to a movie where you didn't have to pay before you went in?
4. Furthermore, readers, how do you think Amazon is going to know how much you've read? Does that sound like a little invasion of privacy to you? It does to me. And since they don't pay the author if you don't read the book, will they refund your money if you don't read the book? Not a chance!
Is this good for Amazon? Of course! They're betting on those automatic payments of $9.95 a month ($120.00 a year!) to add up, especially when some of their customers forget to cancel the account when they quit ordering books.
As for what it will do for authors who do not drink the kool-aid, that remains to be seen. Will my readers continue to pay $4.99 for "Damned Yankee" when they can spend $9.95 and get ten books? I hope so, but the prospect is worrisome. I hope you'll think carefully before you jump on this particular bandwagon.