Monday, November 2, 2015

Amazon Lowers Kindle Unlimited Payouts

Last Friday in a bit of news that was missed by most indie authors, Amazon quietly announced that because they're pricing their Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service at $3.00 per month in India, authors will now earn less.

I'm sorry to say I predicted such a devaluation back in March in an interview with the International Publishers Association titled, Not all Subscription Services are Created Equal. In that interview I warned there was nothing stopping Amazon from waking up one day and deciding that their $9.99 subscription service should be priced at $3.00 instead.  So now it's happening in India.  Amazon hints it will happen in other countries too.

Was I prophetic?  Not really.  None of this should come as a surprise, yet thousands of authors will be surprised once they realize the slippery slope that is KDP Select.  It's an inevitable outcome when authors surrender full pricing and compensation control (via their KDP Select enrollment) to a company whose entire business model is predicated upon commoditizing and devaluing products by stripping suppliers of pricing control.  Amazon does this in the name of offering customers the lowest possible prices.

Is Amazon Working to Kill Single Copy Ebook Sales?

There's another potentially more insidious form of devaluation taking place, and sadly the indie author community (which supplies the bulk of KU titles) is Amazon's unwitting accomplice.

Kindle Unlimited is training readers to think that single-copy ebook purchases are too expensive.

In my Oyster and the KDP Select Party Train post, I shared screen shots of how Kindle Unlimited makes even 99 cent single-copy purchases look expensive when the same book can be read for free under Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Six days following my Party Train post, bestselling indie fantasy author Randolph Lalonde reported that he has received hate mail from Kindle Unlimited subscribers who refuse to purchase his books unless he makes them available for free as part of their Kindle Unlimited subscription.  Wow.

Like many indie authors, Randolph Lalonde prices his full-length series starters at free and prices the rest of his books at $2.99 and $3.99.  He writes great books and earns great reviews, but suddenly now for a small but apparently growing subset of readers spoiled by Kindle Unlimited, his books are too expensive.  Crazy.

Kindle Unlimited is crucifying single copy sales upon the altar of greed and gluttony.

Enjoy your single copy sales while they last.

As I've written previously, indie authors have the power to prevent this bleak future.  All they need to do is stop enrolling their books in KDP Select before it's too late.  Spread the word.

82 comments:

Andrew Bowden said...

The problem is that there are too many people who fall for the joy of Select. When will they learn?

P M Christou said...

Amazon are not only after the online paperback and ebook monopoly. They have now opened up their first bricks and mortar book store.

I tried select and experimented with a book in KU. It did nothing for me, as many others.Those who are riding the KU gravy train are in for a rude awakening.

HStanbrough said...

The problem is, this harms ALL indie writers, not only those who are in KDP Select. Very ugly. But you nailed it when you said the problem is greed. The business model is greed on Amazon's part, and the decision to enroll in KDP Select in the first place is greed on the part of short-sighted authors.

Derek Haines said...

This is no surprise to me, as I wrote about The Self Publishing Train Wreck a few weeks ago. http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/the-self-publishing-train-wreck-is-upon-us/
I copped some criticism for my views from some of the Zon faithful, but this latest move by KDP is a whack!
http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/will-amazon-kindle-unlimited-royalties-reduce-to-near-nothing/

However, the world is real and so is commercial (capitalist) competitivity.

I removed all my ebooks from KDP Select a month or so back, and of course suffered an instant, immediate and probably, vindictive loss of sales and borrows on KDP as a consequence. Having been in and out of KDP Select three times now over the last few years, I can attest that Amazon DO punish you for leaving.

But they also reward you for enrolling. Carrot and stick.

So what do authors do? It's all very worthy to say it's all evil, but the reality is that Amazon can do what they want, because they have worked to create what is close to a monopoly on ebook sales.

With this in mind, I have returned four of my ebooks to KDP Select, but kept the remaining thirteen available on all retailers. What else can an author do, other than to have a foot in both camps?

But with the knowledge that neither camp can or will be a winner at all in today's ebook market. In my mind, it's now a total train wreck.

Pamela's Cummins said...

KDP Select authors will continue to claim Amazon will do no harm and Mark Coker is a whiner, until Amazon lowers the subscription cost to consumers in the US and their payouts are really lowered. Let the saga continue…

M T McGuire said...

I can't do select, not morally ethically or on any remotely viable long term business footing. As a result my books earn diddly squat on Amazon, however, interestingly, sales through other outlets seem to be increasing. There is also a new trend among publishers of paper books here in the UK for books that go direct into stores but are not sold on amazon. Brick and mortar stores like Waterstones appreciate it so if your book is quality, it has far more chance of getting on the shelves.

I think there will be a backlash eventually, there will have to be. Rock on Smashwords and Googlebooks I say.

Cheers

MTM

Robert Hobkirk said...

At least Randolph Lalonde is getting some mail. I hope one day I'll be recognized so that someone will send me hate mail.

Get the payout low enough and it might drive out all the writers who rely on fake reviews to become "best selling" authors. Maybe they'll give their cheesy writing skills over to a career writing for fiverr.

I uploaded 3 books on Smashwords back in Sep, I think. So far, zero sales. I've got another book, my first novel - Tommy's Exodus - that I want to launch next spring. I was thinking of only bothering with Amazon, just to avoid having to do it in another format for Smashwords.

Liz Crowe said...

I took 2 of a four-book series off KU/KDP select and put them on Smashwords. I have yet to see any serious results but I do note that Ibooks has made a few sales. Oh, and "What Derek Haines Said." I'm writing 2 books I am giving away 100% FREE on my newsletter and I don't mean books that I threw together either. I had them edited, proofed and covered but I'm sick of chasing rainbows and just want to write.

Arial Burnz said...

Putting our eggs in one basket has never been a good idea. Across the board, it's just a bad business decision.

As for marketing ourselves, I know I've been guilty of driving all buy links toward Amazon because that's where most of my sales come from. However, I've started changing that model and being more author-centric with my marketing, like...
--focusing on building my mailing list
--creating single buy pages for each of my books where the READER gets to choose which retailer they want to use to buy my books
--any ads I create are used to drive people to my mailing list instead of buying books

Devoted fans who adore our stories will buy our books regardless. I have several readers that say, "I don't care what you charge for your books. I will buy them!" Personally, I think we need to focus on building that devoted fan base of super readers who know the value of good fiction and will keep coming back for more.

We can't sell ourselves short with pricing our books so low. It's insulting and that's what KDP does...insult our talents by paying us pennies for all our hard work. Personally, I think the following price model is not only fair, but if we could unite on such a price scale as much as possible across the board, we might be able to reset the pricing standard for indie books:

--First book or one book free model.
And then for the subsequent books in the series/author's library, every 20k or so, raise the price by $1. For example:
--99¢ for books 19,999 words or less
--$1.99 for books 20k-39,999 words
--$2.99 for books 40k-59,999 words
--$3.99 for books 60k-79,999 words
--$4.99 for books 80k-99,999 words
--$5.99 for books 100k-119,000 words...etc.

The more well-known you are, the more you can increase your price points. Why? The same reason why unknown authors don't sell paperbacks or hard covers. No one wants to spend that kind of money on someone they don't know or trust. Once a reader has come to love your work, they don't care what you charge because they fully appreciate what you have to offer. Being a new author is like an entry-level position. You may be good at what you do, but you need to earn your place before you can start demanding more income.

Truthfully, Amazon isn't the only one who spoiled readers into thinking $3.99 is too expensive. MANY of us authors were more interested in getting in front of readers when we first started publishing and the eBook industry was booming. But who knew? eBooks were new. No one had ever done them before, so we were all floundering around, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. And those authors who were retiring in their 20s from selling 99¢ novels were making us all salivate and wanting a piece of the action. Imagine…retiring with millions and doing what you love to do! I was chomping at the bit, too!

The bottom line is we need to build our reader base and keep on writing.

Be true to our hearts and why we started writing to begin with.

Never stop growing as writers and keep developing our craft.

Never stop learning the business side of our craft.

But stop compromising our art and talents like we're beggars with our hands out.

And create a pen name to sell dino porn on the side. (Just kidding) ;)

Okay, I'll get off my soap box.

Thanks for the articles, Mark! Keep them coming!

Mark Coker said...

Hi Derek. Unfortunately, they have you right where they want you. They know all your cycling in and out of exclusivity is harming your long term readership building elsewhere, which only hastens the day you feel forced to return to exclusivity. Re: the "E" word. I wouldn't call them that. They're not evil. They're just brilliant - and dare I say heartless - operators who know how to force/coerce/convince/cajole indies to bend the knee one inch at a time.

Hi Pamela. Yes, any time the last four years I've talked about the long term ramifications of exclusivity, I'm attacked in certain circles and accused of whining. These folks know this isn't the case, but for them it's an effective deflection that allows them to not confront the truth of the issue. A lot of bestsellers have privately confided to me that they agree with my points but they're afraid to speaking out here on the blog or elsewhere for fear they'll suffer the same attacks, or that those who disagree with them will carpet bomb them with one-star reviews. I suppose scientists are whiners about climate change too. :) KDP Select *is* climate change for book publishing. The climate is changing because of KDP Select already, and will continue to change. We'll see fewer ebook retailers, fewer innovative ebook retailing startups around the globe, fewer authors earning good income, lower royalty rates for ebooks, and more authors feeling increasingly desperate to reach their next reader. Believe me, I wish I didn't have to discuss these things. I'm an optimist at heart, though I admit there are times I feel like I've placed too much trust in the collective wisdom of the community to prevent this from happening. It's a squandered opportunity IMHO. Indies are the captains of the future of this industry. Indies have MUCH MORE POWER than they realize, yet they're willingly surrendering their power. The community's inability to face the implications of this has already destroyed the careers of many writers, and we've only witnessed the tip of the iceberg.

Mark Coker said...

Liz, if only two of your four-book series are available wide, then readers will be reluctant to start the series if they realize the full series isn't available at their favorite non-Amazon retailer. Then partial series also undermine your ability to take full advantage of our tools like preorders and Series Manager, both of which improve visibility at our retailers. Or free series starters which can be used to drive more readers into the full series and follow-on preorders. Everything's connected and interdependent. :)

Robert Hobkirk said...

Even at $3.99 I wouldn't subscribe to Amazon's e-books. Why should I when I get my books for free at the public library?

Arial Burnz said...

And many reader DO leverage their libraries. But I know many readers who also re-read the books they love many times over and enjoy owning them.

Robert Hobkirk said...

Arial,
So you're the literary artist who penned, or keyboarded, BONDED BY BLOOD VAMPIRE CHRONICLES!

Arial Burnz said...

Oooo! My reputation precedes me! LOL Yep, that's me.

Robert Hobkirk said...

I dig your red hair. In Tommy's Exodus, I've got 3 women characters with red hair, but 2 of them are Russina twins, so maybe it's only 2 characters.
Isn't writing fun to be able to create your own world and the people in it?

Arial Burnz said...

LOL! Agreed!

Tom Kelly said...

Thanks to all for your comments. I have one book out there. I joined KDP for three months and then opted out. My sales were minimal at Amazon, although improving. Since I pulled my book it has flatlined. Trying to get the "expanded distribution" shut down is infuriating. Not to mention the "expanded" retailers were selling my book cheaper than I did. What a joke that Amazon would undersell my brand new product and list it on the same page. (I can understand selling used books cheaper-but new?)
I will not be signing another exclusive agreement.
Thank you, Mark, for your continued integrity and hard work to help fledgling writers like myself.

Robert Hobkirk said...

What would Henry Darger say about the woes and tribulations of the indie biz? He wrote 3 books in his tiny Chicago apartment after he put in a days work as a hospital janitor. The Realm of the Unreal was over 15,000 (that's right fifteen thousand pages) single spaced, typewritten pages with hundreds of illustrations. After he died, his landlord started selling the manuscripts by the page @ $100,000 per page. Moral of the story: for a writer it's more than the number of copies sold.

heatherblanton said...

While I agree with all the criticism here, I have to admit I'm stuck. Amazon has been good to me, KU has been good to me, and now even the KENP is loving me. What's a girl to do when Amazon is paying her bills?

Arial Burnz said...

Tom Kelly - I hear you about that "expanded distribution" option and those stupid retailers listing books for either lower than the retail price or astronomical prices. That, unfortunately, isn't actually Amazon doing that. Those are those vultures that are hoping to make money off of books they aren't even buying unless someone orders it. It's a useless effort to get Amazon to do anything about it. In the end, people don't usually buy those books anyway, so their senseless presences seems to be pretty harmless.

I will say I take advantage of the option in that anyone CAN go into a bricks and mortal establishment and order my books, but I also list my books at the same price on my own website, but I give readers the option to purchase my books through me with the incentive of A) they'll be signed and B) IF they join my mailing list, they'll get $5 off each copy. I still make more money if the reader buys directly from me because I get the books at cost, and the reader saves money and still gets the extra perk. I usually throw in a few marketing items, too: pens, bookmarks, postcards, trading cards, etc. with my information or characters.

That's my two pence...
Arial ;)

Robert Hobkirk said...

Arial,
You were talking about ads. Where has been the best place to advertise and what is the best strategy?

ryan field said...

I truly believe the last two lines of this post are THE most important lines for all authors to consider.

"All they need to do is stop enrolling their books in KDP Select before it's too late. Spread the word."

Plain and simple.

If everyone did this it would send a message. A huge message.

Arial Burnz said...

Hey, Robert!

I think we're derailing the conversation here, but Marie Force did a survey of readers and one question asked where they find their next great read. I believe 40% said Facebook...and that's where I interact with my readers most of the time. But "buy my book" ads don't work very well. I am really the last person to ask about FB ads. I have a friend help me with those.

Arial Burnz said...

Here's the link to that report: https://marieforce.com/images/docs/2015ReaderSurveyChart.pdf

Derek Haines said...

@Mark It's a rock and a hard place, Mark. When I removed my ebooks from KDP Select, my Amazon author rank dropped from around 70,000 to over 400,000 in less than 3 days. And of course, so did my sales. But after 4 weeks or more now, I have not got one sale from Smashwords or your aggregated retailers. It's fine to say that I don't allow enough time to build long term sales on your aggregators, but even in the past when I have allowed a year or more, it just doesn't happen. I'm really sorry to say this because I do really wish it was different.

But when I put some of my ebooks back on KDP Select, sales (not just borrows) start happening immediately.

Quite honestly, I really believed that Apple were the only retailer capable of taking on Amazon, but after the DoJ action against them, I think they have given up on ebooks. And as for B&N, well, the less said the better.

Worse though, is that I make more money from one Google Adsense click on an ad on one of my blogs than I do from an ebook sale. This I think means that it has all become, in Monty Python speak, very silly.

Robert Hobkirk said...

Arial,
Thanks for your response. Don't fret about being on the rails. FB, huh. The only thing I hate worse than FB is Twitter.

Derek,
Thanks for your honest input. There is so much BS out there about indie publishing that when I hear a little honesty my soul rejoices. Hallelujah!

Ripley King said...

I will no longer give my books away for free. I stopped doing that several months ago. We trained our readership to expect us for free, and we can un-train them.

I'm wide. Have been for a long time. I don't like KU2. My readership is up, and most of my books sold are from other online venues. Gee, Mark, I broke Amazon a couple of posts back, and still nothing is happening? Just more bad news? What about HarperCollins buying The Midlist? Even more bad news? No action? Nothing?

Boys and girls, when Captain Obvious kicks you in your ass, do you hide under rocks?

BTW, have the accounting dept pay me. I switched over to online a few weeks back, so the information is there in my account setting.

Karen Lynch said...

Great article Mark. I've been trying to convince all my Indie author friends to stay away from KU and to stop giving Amazon more power. Once they have you dependent on them, they can do what they want. KU is killing sales for a lot of authors so they panic and join up, trying to recoup their losses. It saddens me to see some of the big name indie authors in KU now. We have to look ahead and diversify through all channels, instead of putting all our eggs in one very unreliable basket. I'm going to focus on building my readership at apple and other retailers so that eventually the bulk of my income won't come from Amazon. I know it won't happen overnight, but I plan to survive the Amazon fallout when it happens. And it will happen.

Mark Coker said...

Hi Ripley, I checked your payment settings. We processed payments based on payment settings as of October 15, as described on the payment settings page. You changed your instructions on October 20, too late to make the payments which went out 10/21. So you were paid or not paid based on your instructions as of October 15. The next round goes out third or fourth week of January. If you have additional questions on how payments work it's best to direct to our support team, or see our FAQ entry for Getting Paid for even more info. Thanks.

Hi Karen, thanks for stopping by, thanks for spreading the good word and congrats on your great success across our network especially at iBooks with last week's launch of Rogue! B&N did well too!

Inkling said...

I've got a suggestion for those wanting to build independence from Amazon, although it may only makes sense for those who've got a fan base that they're in touch with through blogs or email.

The key is a timed release. Bring your ebooks out first on everyone but Amazon and offer an 'early bird' discount. Consider making that price under $2.99, meaning in most cases $0.99 or $1.99. If Amazon complains about being left out, point out that those other outlets pay 60-70% at those prices, while Amazon only pays 35%. You cannot afford to sell at that 'early bird' discount through Amazon.

After a period of time that depends on how soon those other sales begin to level off, do what you promised and raise the price to $2.99 (or higher). Then and only then, offer it on Amazon. Amazon can't complain because that's the price everywhere.

Advantages to authors:

* You've offered loyal fans a discount but still made 70% (in the case of Apple) on each sale. If you'd included Amazon in that discount, you'd have made only half as much. Do the math and you may find that with a loyal fanbase you can make more selling through other retailers at say $1.99 and earning 60-70% than you would if you'd include Amazon, which would only pay a miserly 35%. That means that those initially fewer sales by leaving out Amazon may not cut your earnings. All you need to is get half the fans who might have bought your book on Amazon to buy it elsewhere.

* You've encouraged readers to shift to some other retailer for their purchases. That's builds up your independence.

* People who do their discovery on Amazon will still discover your book, they'll just find it a few months later. Long-term, the only Amazon sales you'll lose are those who've already bought it only other platforms that pay better. That is not a loss.

------

Other suggestions for authors in general:

1. Write on unique topics (mostly non-fiction). That cuts down your competition from millions (romance novels) to only a handful. Rack your brain for that special something you know better than anyone.

2. Think constantly about your title before publishing, striving for something that's pithy but includes the keywords searchers are likely to use. If a keyword is in both your title and your keyword list, you are far more likely to come up at the head of search lists.

------

Suggestions for Apple and other retailers.

1. Offer those with blogs incentives for referring readers to you. Yes, Apple has something like Amazon Associates. Did you know that? But it's such a pain, who wants to sign up. I didn't. Apple, for some odd reason, wanted to do it through someone other than themselves. Forget that bad idea Apple. Offer those incentives as immediate iTunes credits or eventual cash payments. If you want to earn money, spend money.

2. Even better, in the case of Facebook, with which Apple seems to have a close relationship, create an easy and simple way to link Facebook and iTunes accounts. Make it oh-so easy for someone who recommends a book via Facebook to be rewarded for the resulting purchases with an iTunes credit. And by simple, I mean really, really simple. So simple anyone can learn how in a mere seconds. That would enormously improved the discovery of books on the otherwise almost invisible iBookstore. It'd be great for Facebook too.

3. Apple et al. should reward authors and publishers for steering readers to their stores by paying extra the first two or three months a book is on the market. That'd not only encourage authors to put their books on their retail store rather than give Amazon an exclusive, it'd encourage them to push sales there.





Ripley King said...

Shoot. And so I wait. Again.

Ripley King said...

Because of what Inkling said, I'll have to save this page. Love it.

Mark Coker said...

Lot of great ideas, Inkling, thanks for sharing!

Robert Hobkirk said...

Ripley,
Any relation to Stephen King? Since you're also a horror writer, I was wondering if that was just a pen named you chose to get sales from confused Stephen King shoppers.

Joleene Naylor said...

And as Amazon prices bottom out to free, people will expect the same on ALL platforms, until either the other retailers are out of business or the books they offer are also free. As soon as those Kindle Select Free days started rolling out (Even before Unlimited) I knew this was coming - I saw reviews that said things like "Wait until the free day to get this book" - as though the reviewer assumed that ALL books would eventually be free.

Arial Burnz said...

I have noticed that most marketing efforts are geared toward driving people to Amazon. FB ads that link to books - Amazon. Newsletters that link to books - Amazon. Twitter posts linking to books...Amazon.

I suppose if we don't want the monster to grow, we have to stop feeding it. I'm just as guilty as the next because the shoppers are at Amazon, but moving forward, I'm giving readers a choice. I JUST created this the other day and I'm going to start using pages like this for all my buy links on each of my books instead of giving out the Amazon link: http://www.arialburnz.com/bbb02

Incidentally, if you have a WordPress website, I would highly recommend the plugin Pretty Links. It's kinda like having Bit.ly for your own domain name, with stats and everything. That link I've supplied above can remain at the back of books or anywhere I choose to use it and if my content changes, I just redirect the URL without worry about having to change wherever I've put that link. If you click on the links at the top of my page for Books 5 & 6, you'll see I have a humorous "coming soon" page. Once I have the landing pages for those books created (I'm in the middle of writing Book 5 now), I just need to go into PrettyLinks and change the URL to the new landing page address. I love it!! (I got that tip and the plugin info from "Write. Publish. Repeat." by Sean Platt & Jonny B. Truant.)

Mona said...

I have all of my books in multiple places except one, temporarily in select as it wasn't selling anywhere, and I thought I'd give it a shot. I wouldn't dream of giving up all the sales and reviews from sites like Apple and Google Play for my other books. On a side note, while I know you meant no offence, I don't really like the image of a crucifix used in your blog post. It's just that it's sacred to some people. Shutting up now :)

Markie Madden said...

Thanks Mark! It was due to your influence (among others) that I withdrew all my titles from KDP Select after their first enrollment. I signed up before knowing too many indie authors and bloggers talking about the pros and cons, and I didn't make more sales through the program, I made less. I even promoted using the two options (free and countdown) and didn't see much benefit from either of them. I chalked it up as a learning experience and let it go. Today, I make more on sales through Google than through Kindle (the last 4 months running) and I advise new authors not to fall into this trap. However, there are authors out there who brag (whether it's true or not, I have no way of knowing) that they make 10,000 KU borrows a month. Authors like this, especially if they're purposely misrepresenting their sales, are the ones that end up getting first time indie authors such in this rut!

Tea Fellow said...

I suspect that the real change with KU is with the readers, not Amazon. Amazon has just put out a different kind of bait for a different kind of prey. KU attracts a different kind of customer, and I'm not sure it's the customer that serious authors should be going for anyway. Look at it this way: newspapers say they've reduced hard news because it's not what people want. So, they double the entertainment news, but they lose money anyway. There's a market for hard news, but those customers are no longer going to newspapers for them. The newspapers shifted from one kind of customer to another and lost because they bet on fickle, half-interested people. Readers who want everything free were unlikely to pay much for a book anyway, even at $2.99. Next week, they'll be tired of free books, too, and move on to something else. Movie directors don't make movies worrying about whether Netflix subscribers will be interested. They make good movies that long-term fans will invest in and be willing to pay for--and who will be looking for the next production. That takes a long time to build, but it's a long game. Same thing with the readers you want---those who follow you, the author, not the price of whatever book catches their eye this minute. Just keep writing good books, take the long view, and don't let KU distract you. If you want to write whatever fad is hot right now--vampires, then zombies, then Amish romances the next month, then consider KU. If you have a consistent voice and style, stick with it and be patient. KU readers aren't who you want to target anyway.

Sylvia Dallas said...

Excellent points

Sylvia Dallas said...

As we would say here in Jamaica - that is one "shotting" response. Love the various suggestions. As an indie publisher and someone who published for others in my genre, you have given me some things and strategies to think about.

Sylvia Dallas said...

May I ask you to please clarify, your statement about making more through Google. As a publisher, I certainly do not want to trap myself or my authors in an Amazon only scenario. I am open to learning new (or not so new) methods

LC_Cooper said...

A few months ago, Mark Coker announced that, due to Flipcart's inability to react quickly to remove titles from its listing, Smashwords terminated its contract with Flipcart. By supporting its authors who were enrolling in KDP Select, Smashwords relinquished its toehold in India.

Amazon has a market presence in India. By stringently enforcing its Select contract with participating authors, Amazon shrewdly eliminated a competitive business model from penetrating into India. Smashwords's business model--linked to Flipcart--was poised to be a viable threatin a market dominated by vanity publishers.

By enforcing its Select-contract with authors, Smashwords left India.

Besides one minor player with meager self-pub environment in India, Amazon became the only player in Inida that would sell in India with no up-front fees to authors.

Now, Amazon is targeting every retailer & distributor in India by slashing its subscription fee by 67%. Although doing so puts its ebook pricing more in line with reader expectations for purchased single ebooks, Amazon dumps all its Select titles into India. So, readers can now subscribe to Unlimited for the same price they would pay for a single book. This prcing strategy will likely wipe out many competitors in India that don't have access to such a large catalogue, their prodcution and distribution costs become uncompetitive, and vanity publishing becomes a less-favorable alternative to Amazon's no-up-front-fees / no-risk solution for authors.

Without the Smashwords / Flipcart arrangement, authors wishing to enter a new English-speaking country (India) have only Amazon as their broker. Sure, Flipcart didn't sell many Smashwords titles, but "some" is a toehold and an opportunity, which paid authors a leck of a lot better than KDP or its reduced-price Select / Unlimited offering.

If a company from India, for example, had Amazon's global presence and came to the USA and dropped its product pricing by 67% less than what is was offering in its home country, that company would be investigated for "dumping" -- the practice of undercutting competors' prices on similarly competitive products--doing so cheaper than the products are sold in their own host country.

Anyway, Amazon sees that it's getting away with this predatory practice in India, it will search out other English-speaking countries / regions / territories. Then, it will target as its catalogue grows with non-English titles, non-English-speaking countries.

I absolutely agree with everyone here who says that if you don't want the monster to grow, don't feed the monster. I refuse to participate in KDP Select. It makes more sense to grow my base's breadth and depth than to restrict my global presbce and reduce my royalties in the hopes that I might make a few more coins. Yuck ... tastes like mushrooms and asparagus to me.

I wonder how long Mark Coker will hold out when Amazon makes its first offer to buy Smashwords from Mark Coker and friends. Hopefully, Mark is making enough money from Smashwords that any offer from Amazon won't be appealing.

If Smashwords goes the way of Oyster, who is there to challenge Amazon?


BTW, I apologize for for not editing my comment--this is a very turbulent flight, and editing has proven futile.

P M Christou said...

Anyone who thinks Amazon treats their indie authors the same as traditional published ones, only need look at Goodreads (owned by Amazon) Choice Award nominations for 2015. (I am not particularly a big fan of Goodreads) I got an email from them yesterday, looked through the nomination categories. All the book nominees are tradtionally published ones.A quote from last year's awards - "Instead of relying on experts or judges, we analyzed statistics from the 275 million books added, rated, and reviewed on Goodreads.

I would like to know the stats on how many indie books were read in 2015 compared to trad published ones.

Amazon are not the only retailers to put tradionally published books front and centre stage, and sweep indie books under the carpet.

However indie authors do have to do more to help themselves. Accepting the staus quo as is and opting for Amazon exculsivity is damaging to us all. Spread the word, change reader's perceptions that indie books are not worthy and should be free or given away for peanuts. It is no good complaining about burning if you refuse to move away from the fire.

Barbara Drewry said...

Your post has all the hallmarks of a critical thinker. Too uncommon. And so much appreciated. :-)

admire chatsakarira said...

The major problem for other Ebook retailers is they are not driving significant sales for the Ebooks and Amazon seems to dominate that market. They are the market leaders and can control even the sales of other retailers.
The only way out is to build readership on their store and then direct your customers to your website or blog for direct sales of other books.

Clare Sailing said...

Authors who choose not to cave to the KU teat are truly in control of their own path - on all levels. Those who cave in to KU are not. Plain and simple. Essentially functioning as "employees" of Amazon, they have taken the bait, developed a dependency on the teat, then justify that choice through the arguments asserted in this discussion. I've no time for it.

Kudos to those of you who see through this corporate takeover sham and, knowing who you are, choose instead to chart your own destiny rather than sell your souls to Amazon. You folks are the ones who will gradually change the world through your not so small action of saying "NO". To you I say thank you.

It really really really IS that simple...

Rick Murcer said...

While I respect the intent of the article and most of the comments here, I couldn't disagree with this pretense more. Writers want to get paid. Period. Amazon does that far, far, far, far better than any other option available to most indies and for that matter, most trads.
I went a long time before joining select and couldn't be happier that I did. Amazon advertises, promotes and helps sell books. As for this articles remarks regarding the KU fund, why didn't anyone mention that amazon can also RAISE the price at anytime? You have to think through this...

Remember, while you're a writer, you are also a business person. Neither Smashwords nor Nook collectively or independently made me a fraction of the money that Amazon has. Until that changes, I'd advise staying put. You ARE NOT trapped. If things go south, then you have options to change. One last thought here, I'm not super impressed with competors slamming one another. It can take on the face of classnessless.

Rick Murcer

Ruth Ann Nordin said...

Just last month, Amazon didn't pay out on Oct 29 (as we were told in our reports on the KDP Dashboard) from the US store to a lot of authors, myself included. Had I not received my Smashwords quarterly payment, I would have been wondering where I was going to pay the bills. The argument for paying bills works both ways. Amazon took up to Nov 2 to pay some of these authors. I happened to get paid mid-morning on Oct 30 (one of the lucky few who didn't have to spend the weekend wondering if I was going to get paid). Here's the thing. I'm shocked so few people have come out and mentioned this. What if there's a month when Amazon doesn't pay until the 15th or later? Build up your savings account to help buffer from this sort of thing because it's already happened.

The proof is in the pudding. If Amazon, for whatever reason, decides not pay at the end of the month, and you miss your mortgage payment or have to use credit cards to buy groceries, this isn't working in your favor. This is a good lesson in why diversifying is so important. If one retailer doesn't pay up, another will. It's buffering yourself from things like this that make for good business sense.

I just want to add there is a way to put all of your retailer links onto one page that is easy to update at any time. Book Launch (http://booklaunch.io) allows you to put your book cover, description, links to all retailers, and social media share links for each book you have. You can take your Book Launch link to share information about your new release. That way you're not posting multiple links all the time. And as soon as you make any change to Book Launch in edits, it automatically updates to the live page. Yes, this costs money, but it's my favorite tool because it simplifies my life.

Mark Coker said...

Hi Rick, thanks for your comment. Believe me, I've grown quite weary talking about Amazon. I'd really rather not. Allow me to share a little background on where I'm coming from.

I see my primary mission as looking out for the welfare of our 100,000+ authors and publishers. I put their interests above my own because if I were to ever lead them astray with my guidance, my business would be toast. Ever since I started the Smashwords blog, its purpose has been to share information, insight and best practices that will help our authors be more successful. I can't *not* talk about Amazon because their actions impact our authors. The readers and subscribers here expect me to speak my mind, even when they disagree with me.

It's unfortunate I have to be the messenger. Every time I write anything critical of Amazon, I face the wrath of Amazon partisans who twist and misrepresent my motivations rather than debate the substance of my views. Perhaps this is why so many authors, publishers and service providers are afraid to speak out publicly against Amazon.

I'm probably the first person to date to point out how KU is undermining the future of single-copy sales. This is important insight, and it deserves to be shared, considered and debated. I don't want or expect everyone to agree with me, but we need to talk about it, and indies need to decide how they feel about it. Some won't care - and that's their prerogative - and others will want to take action.

Indies power KDP Select and its spawn Kindle Unlimited. In the months and years ahead, the entire industry will come to recognize KDP Select and KU as the single-biggest forces of disruption. It's up to indies to determine if this disruption leads to a net positive long term gain for their careers, or a net loss. We need to talk about this now, and authors need to know they have the power to enable it or to stop it.

Thanks again for the comment.

djmills said...

Thank you Mark.
From a business background, I know "not to put all my eggs in the one basket".
From a personal view, thank you for allowing me to get to many distributors in USA via Smashwords.

Stacey Wallace Benefiel said...

Great comments! I so wish we could all get together on the pricing.

Anna Erishkigal said...

Dear Mark:

I have said this before. I will say it again. I will say it to YOU because you speak to these smaller retailers with a voice that maybe they will listen to:

Q: WHY do authors put book-links in to Amazon and not the other retailers?

A: Because Amazon REWARDS us by making that book more visible and searchable in one of their sub-categories where regular readers can find us, even if that visibility is only for a few hours or a day.

Why has Amazon gotten so big? Because while all of the other retailers depend upon the Big-5 coming to them and buying 'promotional spots,' Amazon rewards authors every step of the way for driving a potential reader to THEM instead of to their competition.

We pay our OWN MONEY to send OUR READERS to Amazon, where d'Zon can stalk them with Adwords and upsell them for all the other stuff they look at while they are there, like a new flea collar for their cat and a powercord for their laptop.

Why do you think d'Zon CARSE if authors are exclusive? Because when an author exclusive to them, every penny of that author's advertising, all their word-of-mouth, all their effort, goes to building up Amazon's business ... for free.

Amazon doesn't pay much for advertising. They depend upon -US- to do it for them.

There are something like 300,000 new indie books coming out each year, while there are only 8,000 traditionally published new fiction books by the Big-5. Who do you think has the bigger marketing department? Apple-B&N-Kobo-etc with their 8,000 authors supported by the Big-5? Or Amazon with its army of indie authors who PAY THEIR OWN MONEY to do Amazon's advertising FOR them.

The other retailers? They don't give us nothing. I spent $200 last weekend on Facebook ads driving paranormal romance readers accessing Facebook using an iOS laptop, desktop, or tablet to Apple where I'd marked that box set down to $0 for the weekend, as well as a side-ad where I included the larger iPhones (the ones with the larger screen). $200 I spent driving readers there to get that box set. And do you know what happened?

Nothing.

I got a ton of traffic. My cost-per-click was really fabulous. According to Facebook I drove almost 700 readers to Apple to download this box set. But if you look at my stats (It's the Addictive Paranormal Reads box set) the download numbers were pretty miserable given the fact it was FREE and this same box set sold 46,500 copies two years ago on Amazon when we first released it and it's pretty highly rated.

Do you know where we got the sales?

A bunch of people BOUGHT the box set on Amazon for $.99 cents.

A BUNCH MORE people complained to Amazon that the box set was $.99 cents at Apple, so they price-matched it free both in the USA and UK. So now we've got that whole price-war thing going on for an ad which only ran for a weekend :-P

But the most frustrating thing is we didn't get any additional visibility, whatsoever, at Apple. This box set has always been invisible there. It's a fantastic bargain, well-rated and sells well elsewhere, and has links that lead people into all our other books. But Apple won't give us visibility. And for some reason, even its own customers, after being SENT there to download the ebook for free, were then interested enough in that box set to go to Amazon, BUY it, and download it to their Apple device using their Kindle app.

This tells me Apple is the problem, not us. Their own Apple device-users PAID to buy a free box set elsewhere even when sent to Apple.

So the other retailers can keep on whining about how indie authors are 'feeding the monster,' but the truth is, even when we try to get visibility there, we get smacked in the face and punished.

Ruth Ann Nordin said...

Two authors (one bestselling and the other not) have received this email from Amazon). They shared this in a private Facebook group to warn other authors:

"Hello,

We understand that you may have manipulated some product reviews. Authors on Amazon.com are not allowed to manipulate ratings, feedback, or reviews.
If this problem continues, we may not allow you to continue selling via KDP.

Sincerely,
Seller Performance Team
Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com"

I thought this was a scam, so I encouraged one to contact Amazon directly to ask about this. It turns out the email is legit. I know these two authors well enough to know they do not rig the review system. Amazon is accusing them of manipulating reviews on their own books, but they aren't. Upon further investigation, Amazon alerted one that someone reviewing her books has some elements that look suspicious. They didn't elaborate. But this is an Amazon Select author who sells in the #1000-#10,000 range. She has some books on other retailers that do really well. She has no reason to rig the system, nor does she gain anything by lying about this.

My only reason for bringing this up is to show the nature of what we're dealing with. Amazon can and will, for whatever reason, threaten to remove your rights to sell on their site. They'll also do this without properly explaining why. I'm not going to put all of my eggs in a basket for a company that does this.

Sixty percent of my income comes from Amazon, so yes, it would be huge drop in income if they banned me, but at least I have the 40% buffer on other retailers. With pre-orders, I'm hoping to increase my percentage on these other retailers. For those of you in Select, be sure to have a hefty emergency account in case the bottom falls out on you. Better to be safe than sorry.

Ruth Ann Nordin said...

That #1000 - #10,000 range is her average ranking at Amazon on any given day.

Blond Zilla said...

Well its good to see Amazon is at least attempting to do something about all the BS reviews people pay for and go to great lengths to acquire. If one put that effort into writing a decent book, one might be surprised to find they don't need phony reviews.

Pamela's Cummins said...

Hi Anna Erishkigal, it is yours and other authors prerogative to spend your hard earn money to market Amazon in order to sell your books. I would rather spend my time and money on SEO for my website to promote my books and services. I never did Facebook ads because of poor feedback from other authors. I did do a promotion thru Pinterest that was a lot less than you paid. That campaign brought a ton of traffic to my website book page and other web pages. My book page has image links of all the stores my books are in. I sold the same amount of books on Amazon as I did at Google Play and Barnes & Noble.

I believe in giving consumers a choice of where to purchase their books, which is the only reason Amazon is on my website. I been tempted to take Amazon off many times (did for a week), for now I will wait to see what their next stunt will be. I’m sure their next move will cause KDP Select authors to whine like they did with changes in unlimited and reviews. And they call Mark Coker a whiner, when you spot it – you got it!

Anna Erishkigal said...

@Pamela Cummings -

You obviously didn't read what I wrote ... at all. The ad in question was marketed to the iBookstore by only paying to show the ad to iOS (iTunes Operating System) users, not to Amazon.

There was no link to Amazon. I didn't target Amazon users. There was no mention of Amazon anywhere on the ad. I'm not stupid. It was an ad targeted at iBookstore users.

And I made my money back (even though I wasn't supposed to ... my mission was to put that box set into the hands of 400 iBookstore readers ... not make money). Just not at the iBookstore. Apple's readers, using Apple devices and an Apple browser, after following an Apple link, manually web-surfed to Amazon on their own to BUY a box set I had marked down to free on the iBookstore specifically for this ad. This says something really, really BAD about Apple's relationship with it's own customers. They're all using the Kindle App. They're not buying from Apple.

Pamela's Cummins said...

@Anna Erishkigal, I did read what you wrote and my main response was geared towards the question “WHY do authors put book-links into Amazon and not the other retailers?” And how you used a Facebook ad for iBooks only. My response was how I use my website instead to give readers a choice of what book store to use and that is why I use marketing for my website only. If you noticed my Pinterest campaign did not sell any books to iBooks, but I got the sales to Barnes & Nobles, Googleplay, and Amazon. I know that other authors read the comments and wanted to let them know the benefits to link to their own website instead of an eBook store.

Bruce McClellin said...

At some point the top price for an e-book novel will break the $4.99 barrier. American authors raising their price are likely also increasing their price in Europe, where high value added taxes are in effect. How much will higher prices affect sales when the VAT is incorporated in the retail price? The same Gardners distribution deal that expanded the European marketplace also introduced authors to the African marketplace. Do American authors know what's a fair selling price in Africa? According to Wikipedia two South Africa online retailers merged to better compete with Alibaba as well as Amazon. A fair price also needs to be one that helps the partner-retailer not just compete but to survive.

The largest initial stock offering in U.S. history was to fund the creation of the American division of Alibaba. It's too early to say, but when Alibaba goes online in America, the discussion about Amazon and its behavior may be reframed. Smashwords authors are indirectly supporting independent American booksellers via a Kobo program that distributes e-books to these booksellers. What effect will raising prices have on these small booksellers? Too much of the independent bookstore trade has already been crushed by Amazon.

Rick Carufel said...

Amazon has to somehow figure out how to cull the wheat from the chaff. There is a myth that anyone can write a book. With epublishing this can be made a reality. Unfortunately not everyone can write a good book that will sell. So Amazon is faced with the problem of millions of terrible, unsellable ebooks clogging up their servers and representing a growing expense with no return.
Amazon will sooner or later have to start dumping some of these books in conjunction with more stringent requirement for selling ebooks on the site. I can see Amazon's solution will be of course to charge writers to publish through kindle and even a yearly or monthly listing charge. That will discourage many from self publishing and make Amazon millions.

Kemberlee said...

Rich Carufel - It's not just Amazon suffering from a huge influx of poorly written books. All vendors have them. Even Smashwords. But who's to say what's poorly written and not? I could say JK Rowling's books are poorly written, or even JRR Martin. If I worked in Amazon and faced with the task of getting rid of poor books, would I be justified in removing Rowling and Martin? No. Authors need to take more responsibility for what they write and what they publish. If their work is getting rejected, for whatever reasons, the author has a responsibility, if to no one else but themselves, to improve their work before self publishing, rather than just saying, "Well, I'll show them I don't need a publisher." I know too many writers, especially new writers, who have chips on their shoulders because they haven't had to develop that thick skin that it takes to be in the industry. They write a story, don't edit it beyond what Word tells them in the spell check, slaps a crap cover on it and loads it to the vendors. Amazon, nor any other vendor, has the time to read everything that comes through, which is why they rely so heavily on automated system checks and reader complaints.

Yes, it would be handy if all vendors had a stronger hand in what gets published, but of course, then you have to worry about censorship claims and freedom of speech, which is really only an American right, so how to you separate American writers from non-American writers?

Unfortunately, in some ways, this has become an all or nothing society. Either everyone is allowed or none. I had this discussion with the Smashwords folks earlier in the year over them allowing 'daddy porn' to be published on their site, where the main vendors do not (Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Amazon). Smashwords is all or nothing, and if daddy porn sells, they'll sell because it earns them money.

As for listing charges...that's the 30-65% Amazon already charges to list books on their service, which all vendors charge. For every 99c book, authors make 35c. Or every $2.99, the author makes $2.10. That's a huge gap in percentages, but we still agree to it when we load our books. Which doesn't make sense for everyone out there devaluing their books at the 99c price mark, which is also part of the problem. Authors have devalued their own work and Amazon is taking advantage of that with Kindle Unlimited. Millions of books at just $9.99. Bring on the book pirates. Everyone of them I've seen this month all have ASINs attached to their databases of books. They don't get those from anyone else but Amazon.

Anyway, unsellable books clogging the system...they're not unless they're selling. If they're selling, who's to say if they're worth removing. If they aren't selling, they don't affect us because they're ranked in the high millions, or not at all.

Rick Carufel said...

Kemberlee First I wasn't talking about judging what's good or what's not I am talking about the millions of ebooks that have no sales. The listing charge would only kick in after a certain length of time with no sales. Unsellable books still have data and a page in the amazon system and take up server space. Millions of such books take up lots of space. Amazon is not going to keep filling servers with products that don't sell.

Kemberlee said...

Rick, If those books have no sales, they'll drop into the nether regions of the ranks and won't be found unless someone knows where to look. I see your point though. Just for saving server space, it would behoove Amazon, and other vendors, to clean house, getting rid of non-producers. On the other hand, it costs them nothing to leave up the listings.

What kind of time limit are you suggesting before they dropped nonsellers? Just self publishing authors or publishers as well? Do publisher contracts with their authors play into this timeline?

Rick Carufel said...

I'm suggesting nothing. This is what I see Amazon doing. It does cost something to leave a listing up.

Brian Dingle said...

As I write, Amazon has on its website a copy of a sampler of my book
http://www.amazon.com/Trojan-Jupiter-Brian-Henry-Dingle-ebook/dp/B0153QVD88/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446856016&sr=8-1&keywords=dingle+hollow
which contains the copyright page saying it is from Smashwords, and at the end of the sampler, last page (94th page of my 500+ in this font on Kindle) a statement saying if you want this book, get it at Smashwords.
$1.99 in USA, $2.64 in Canada. And I guess $3.99 to buy the whole book from Smashwords. I have complained and this morning they said they would take it down. It is still there, but they said it would take 2-3 days. I did not upload it and if it sells, I receive nothing, Amazon gets something, and I guess the perp gets something. The good news is that I am not a particularly good writer or marketer, so it probably won't sell, but I really doubt if I will ever know.
I put in a review telling people if they bought it, to write me and I will give them the whole book.
I do not think Amazon did this on purpose, but I also think they did not look at the last page.

Brian Dingle said...

I forgot to mention that I did not upload this to Amazon

Kemberlee said...

Brian, If you published your book on Amazon and it made the Premium list, and if you did not go to the distribution oage to disable Amazon aggregation then yes your book would get sent to Amazon. It's not Amazon's fault. Contact Smashwords and ask them to pull it, then change the aggregation options to remove Amazon.

Mark Coker said...

Wow, Bryan, that sucks. I see the book at Amazon and the authorized version at Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/573319 In the past, an email to copyright@amazon.com usually results in a quick take down. Smashwords didn't distribute the book there, but if it has Smashwords wording it means either someone close to you uploaded it or a stolen version of it was uploaded. Please ask Amazon to provide you the contact information of the person who uploaded, and then send me an email here at Smashwords and I'll be happy to cross check that again our customer records for purchases in our store. If someone purchased your book at Smashwords to upload to Amazon, I want to make sure they haven't done this for other books. Luckily, the perps are usually caught fast, before they can make any money.

Coach Ann said...

Information is power, The strategies Amazon uses should be communicated to the reading public. Many now are falling out of love with exploitative, big models and preferring local ones. Independent is local. We should start a campaign to read "independent" authors and raise the profile of Smashwprds.

Desertphile said...

One of the chief reasons I refused to use Amazon Kindle Select is due to their past behavior, and advice from other writers. I discussed the issue with Douglas Preston two years ago, and he also "saw it [the anti-authors behavior of Amazon.com] coming."

imperceptible1 said...

Hi, sorry to horn in on your discussion, as I am a reader instead of a writer.

I just wanted to say that I wondered why you all allowed your material to be essentially given away. Is it too hard to be accepted by individual publishers? You are all that good, at least everything I ever read on Kindle Unlimited.

Desertphile said...

"I just wanted to say that I wondered why you all allowed your material to be essentially given away."

The issue is amazon .com treating writers and authors poorly, dictating the price of our goods and services. Writers should be the ones stating how much their work is worth--- not a publishing service.

P.D.Blake said...

I've just uploaded my latest creation to Amazon, having first published it on Smashwords. I've never fallen for KDP Select. It would be, to me, too much like only selling a book from one shop in the street. I'd rather spread the sales around.

What I did notice though since last I uploaded a book there, was the book sharing. Ifd you opt for the 70% royalty this is mandatory. Personally I'd rather if someone bought my book that their friends and family would buy their own copy.

Vanessa Wester said...

Having been in this game for nearly 4 years, I think that if you have enough books you should do both. I have put my box set on KDP, but the individual books are available by smashwords. This allows me to have the first book in the series free, to entice readers.

I have never sold lots of copies, but they sell...

However, I have used advertisers like FreeBooksy to promote my free book with mixed results. I also use Bargain Booksy to promote the Countdown promotion for my box set. Without these advertisers I would have no sales anywhere... of that I am convinced! I do not make much money at all... but, I make some after paying for costs.

If you need the income from books to make a living you have to be a voracious writer. Those that seem to stay in the top bring out new books at a rate I could never match!

Saying this, I have no idea how some books get to the top of the free charts, and BookBub continues to stump me! Recently, I saw there advertising fees at as much as $400 for a free eBook! But, it seems to work...

This discussion has been interesting to read, but I believe the bottom line is that a book does not sell itself. You have to go out there and promote. Goodreads also seems to be a great place if a book-club takes to your book. Only the lucky ones (whoever they are) get a best-seller by doing nothing...

However, I am glad Amazon is clamping down on the "review" problem. I have seen books accepted by the likes of Bookbub which have, in my opinion, inflated reviews... always an easy one to spot when someone has loads of 5 star and a few 1 one star saying, "did I read the same book?"

But, hey, these authors are ruthless and do whatever it takes to sell books - good luck to them. My conscience is clear!

Best of luck to you all & Merry Christmas! :)

Shana said...

I can't say that I agree that Amazon has a vested interest in lower prices for ebooks. It doesn't make sense when you consider that they receive a higher percentage from a higher sales price. Yes, buyers might be more inclined to buy more with cheaper prices, but I'm not fully convinced that income from cheap sales prices is great than income from higher sales prices. Pricing a book at 99 cents or free, which you spent maybe a year or more creating and then paying for editing, etc, just feels foolish. There are better ways to build your readership, than just those who only buy cheap books. And like others have said, it is possible to train readers to not demand only cheap books. I've seen samples of a lot of free books, and the writing is TERRIBLE -- and there is no way I want to be part of that group.

And in my new experience with publishing my first book on Kindle, sales are slow to build (though we have the hurdle of erotica being, rightly, classified as "adult" content, and there being limitations to how erotica appears in search results and how it doesn't appear on Kindle sale pages). However, our KU page views have been rising steadily. And at this point, having happy readers, who often recommend books to their friends, is still a win.

Finally, I'm a firm believer that book sales are directly proportional to the amount of marketing effort you put in.

William-Stephen Taylor said...

My dear wife wrote this so I'm posting it here fore her.It is time for change on Amazon.
While searching for something worthwhile to read on amazon (not an easy task and very time-demanding) it has come to my notice that books with the ‘Kindle Unlimited’ logo are the ones with minimum or no sales at all; and most of these books have no comments or just the one.
Can it be that most amazon readers are now turning to Kindle Unlimited books as a way of finding good reading material (and I use that term loosely with regards to amazon e-books) The con is the ‘Free books with Kindle Unlimited. But the dummies falling for this only do so after paying $9.99 a MONTH.
How many books would you get for that amount @ $0.99 - $1.99 - $2.99 – $3-99 - $4.99 and so on – 2, 3, 4 or 5.
How many books can a person read in one month. I don’t mean skip-read - - skipping pages full of clutter, useless info, back-story crap. I mean well-written books from authors of note that are too numerous to mention or their genres, book lengths – short stories and anthologies.
KINDLE UNLIMITED IS KILLING READERSHIP VALUES. No longer do readers search for something worthwhile (such as your book that you slaved over). NO!, They now take a dozen or so books a day and skip through them, dropping the crap ones and reading what interests them AFTER PAYING AMAZON AND NOT YOU.
My husband’s sales dropped 70% as this scam started. He is now either giving them away on other sites such as Wattpad, or selling them on Lulu and Smashwords. He keeps the price for single books below the cost of a cup of coffee, some even at $0.99. He writes mostly short stories and bad-mouths amazon kindle as often as possible with e-mails. He has removed all his 70+ books from kindle telling amazon that he wants readers to pay him for his books and not amazon.
Another thing; you don’t really believe that crap about 11 – 12 million dollars for ‘pages read’. The figure is actually in the 50-60 billion – every year and how long has Kindle been running …. And they are still shelling out peanuts. When I posted the news that my husband removed all his book, one comment was – “More money for us”. Yes, well, that’s what dreams are made of, be an author and get rich. So, tell me, how many of you have recently bought a yacht, a villa in the South of France and how many of you are earning millions… AND- how many of you are not.

Kemberlee said...

William-Stephen Taylor - Your wife is absolutely 100% correct. The business model has changed dramatically, especially in the last five years.

Several things are killing publishing as we knew it. Amazon is a large part of it. Programs like Kindle Select was management between retail and sale programs, but then Kindle Unlimited was launched. It wasn't overly popular at first because people confused it with Select, but earlier last year, they made a concerted effort at promotion and suddenly retail sales took a nose dive. When you can download unlimited books for $9.99 a month, why buy retail again? Who cares of you don't read them all. And the authors are only paid 0.004c per page read. Many authors never seeing a penny.

Then you have self publishing authors who perma-price their books at 99c. Who cares about the quality or length. Everything is 99c...as a means to attract readers away from higher priced books, regardless of quality.

Then, enter 99c box sets from authors from traditional houses getting their rights back and boxing all their books, or series', and pricing cheaply to attract readers...who doesn't want a box of ten books for 99c?!

The 99c price mark is totally, completely, and absolutely devaluing the hard work serious writers are doing to create their books and trying to sell at retail rates.

The 99c price mark has also lowered reader expectation. They now expect all books to cost 99c, and if they're crap, it's only the loss of a buck if they don't like it.

There's another side to Amazon that we overlook...returns on ebooks! Print books have a week return policy. Ebooks are the same! If a fast reader downloads a few books today, they could be read within a couple days. They drop some bad reviews on the book and then return the book. Meanwhile, they've actually enjoyed the book, and are enjoying the return scam.

Amazon, no doubt, is in it for the bucks, and screw hard working authors who take their work seriously. But also the blame also lies with unscrupulous self publishing authors who only think of themselves when publishing books, especially knowing the book is substandard. "Edits? We don't need no stinking edits!"

All of the above, and more, contributed to more than a dozen small presses closing last year, and already a small handful, including one who's been around for fifteen years.

How to change things, especially when a mega seller like Amazon feeds on authors and self publishing authors are lowing reader expectation? I'm open for suggestions.


Desertphile said...

"How to change things, especially when a mega seller like Amazon feeds on authors and self publishing authors are lowing reader expectation? I'm open for suggestions."

Amazon.com has been a massive detriment to writers. The United States Department of Justice has met, and will again meet, with Authors United, the New America Foundation, and the Authors Guild as well as with writers Scott Turow, Susan Cheever, Mark Coker, Franklin Foer, Jonathan Kanter, Eric Simonoff, Maurice Stucke, Lina Khan, Haley Sweetland Edwards, Barry Lynn, Douglas Preston, and John R. MacArthur.

The problem is Amazon.com's threat to freedom of expression; the business controls a huge amount of book sales, and it has been dictating what a writer's work is worth--- not writers:

More than 75 percent of online sales of physical books. More than 65 percent of e-book sales. More than 40 percent of sales of new books. About 85 percent of ebook sales of self-published authors.

This means the business can afford to give books away for free if they want, and make up for the loss profit in other areas such as selling pots and pans and bumper stickers and cameras. That makes a new writer's work worthless, which means in today's market there is no economic reasons to write a book and try to get it published.

Details may be found here: http://www.authorsunited.net/july/

Desertphile said...

Recall how Amazon.com got its start. There was a feminist book store named Amazon Books. When amazon.com started as an on-line book store called "Amazon Books," Amazon Books filed a dispute with the one and only USA domain name registrar at the time. In retaliation, amazon.com sued Amazon Books out of business by out-spending on legal fees 1,000 to 1. Amazon Books relied on donations to defend itself against amazon.com, which of course meant Amazon Books could not afford a lawyer. The feminist book store, which had been selling books under the name "Amazon Books" for about 12 years before amazon.com existed, lost the right to use the name.

Literally, there can be no free market of ideas and expression as long as amazon.com exists as it currently does.

Kemberlee said...

I don't have a problem with Amazon doing business. I have a 25+ year history in retail. I know how the game is played. But Amazon has effectively become a department store and not the bookstore it started out as. Books are the company's loss leader. Like cheap/free coffee in the gas station. While Amazon makes up the cost of cheap books in other areas, at the heart of it, it are the authors who suffer the most, but Amazon can't afford to lose the authors they're screwing. If people stopped publishing with Amazon, they'd have to find someone else to stiff as their loss leader.

Having said this, authors have so sign up for Kindle Unlimited. Not all books are available on the all-you-can-eat for $9.99 program. But because readers have been retrained on how much to pay for books, they're simply not buying as many retail priced books as the 99c books. Those cheap books are full of poor writing, poor editing, poor covers, etc but that what today's readers are growing to expect.

We need to find ways to retrain readers to go for quality reads, and we need to stop devaluing ourselves as writers and put our books back up to retail cost. And publishing the right way, with professional editing (not your mother's or best friends edits...unless they're professional), quality covers, and well-written stories.

I'd be interested in seeing figures of what percentage Amazon makes on book sales vs sales of everything else.