Friday, February 6, 2015

Weekend Musings: Kindle Unlimited Future Prospects

I see two possibilities for Kindle Unlimited this year: it's going to stay static with KDP Select or KDP Select authors will be given the option to opt-out of KU.

KDP Select can stay static if what Amazon is saying is true, most authors are happy with the service. I'm wary about this claim, since KDP Selct auto-renews unless the box is manually unchecked. There can be plenty of books simply online with no human on the other side of the computer screen. That can inflate the numbers. Some people may not even know they're automatically enrolled. Again, inflating numbers.

If the op-out is given, it's from the criticism that the low Kindle Unlimited pay has been. I feel this it the most likely option. This decision can make the most parties happy, and doesn't alter the existing structures drastically.

Indie authors can still stay exclusive to Amazon and enjoy its benefits (Countdown deals, free promo days, so on and so forth), while not participating in the stealth royalty cut that is Kindle Unlimited. The author is also given more control, which has been the strongest selling point to the KDP platform.

Amazon benefits because they keep their value with the exclusive authors and books. At the same time, they don't have to overhaul the Kindle Unlimited system. KU and KDP Select can live harmoniously, and they can have a synergistic relationship. The more KU improves, the more likely KDP Select authors will opt-in. The better KDP Select works, the more likely authors will take a chance with exclusivity.

The opt-out policy also directly addresses many of the anti-subscription crowd. There are advantages and disadvantages to subscription services. I'm personally a proponent of subscriptions, but I can understand and emphasize those who are not. This policy will allow authors the choice to choose for themselves, and that's always a good thing.

The criticism is Kindle Unlimited authors have better visibility than non-KU authors. That's true, but the drawback would be the borrow rate. There should be a good incentive for those opting into exclusivity to one platform, because they need something to offset the potential revenue from all retailers. It's important that it is a difficult decision, because that means both sides have a lot to offer.

When will the option become available? Not until Kindle Unlimited can be the first subscription service to boast a million books. Kindle Unlimited, Oyster, Scribd, they all want to draw readers in with their numbers. The more books one service has over the other, the (assumed) more likely consumers will choose one over the other. Amazon wants KU to be chosen in those hypothetical scenarios, so don't expect to opt-out until Amazon has won hearts and minds.