Kindle Unlimited’s new contracts force blood, sweat and tears from authors. Authors have always written first and foremost to share their creativity, knowledge and stories. Although famous and successful authors exist, like famous actors, they are few and far between. In the traditional industry of publishing, authors must pitch their book concept to tens maybe even hundreds of editors who they hope, will take enough interest in their book to have the publishing house pay them an advance and royalties for their creative work.
The grueling process of traditional book publishing has not changed or evolved, but new opportunities for publishing have become available to authors. The first of these is self-publishing on a variety of platforms including Amazon.com. When authors publish their work on Amazon, they do so free of any upfront costs and can have their book ordered and printed, while they receive 80% of royalties and authors can publish ebooks and receive up to 70% of revenues. Additionally, authors have the option to audio record their works and distribute their audiobook recordings through additional affiliates of Amazon.com and receive “high royalties” for these.
Amazon as a publishing platform and as a developer of the Kindle, a hardware device for reading ebooks also owns Kindle Unlimited, a distribution channel which is a subscription based library for which subscribers pay a monthly fee for access to their books. In the past, authors were paid royalties based on how many times their e-books were checked out. Amazon has just released news of a change in the payment system to the detriment of the authors.
Starting July 1, authors will be paid per page read of their title rather than by how many times their title is acquired. Although it may seem similar at first, the goal of this change is to recompense authors with more voluminous titles as well as those that are most popular. This change affects authors whose books are not entirely read, or those who write reference books such as cookbooks, informational books, how-to books that may be used as resources but only for one particular recipe, date or lesson.
The data from the company explains that authors that are published through the Kindle Direct Publishing system which includes Kindle Unlimited, stand to make $60 million in the first half of 2015 alone. This business is booming and this recent policy change has upset many authors who claim that the new contract from Kindle Unlimited is yet another way to force blood, sweat and tears from authors who are barely making significant profits, let alone a luxurious living from publishing on these platforms.
A sample scenario provided by Kindle Direct Publishing, states that if the global fund from which authors are paid is $10 million, then authors whose 100-page book is read 100 times will make $1,000 – a business proposition that continues to show that authors write for the love of writing and not with the end goal of breaking the bank.
The challenge with this change is that people often download books on an impulse. Similar to how bookworms buy books at a bookstore, e-book readers may be pursuing through the Kindle Unlimited platform and downloading books to read in the future, perhaps on a vacation or a business trip. However, many a times, life gets in the way and people’s plans change and they are unable to get to the book. Authors whose books have high ratings and are recommended and previously benefited from word of mouth recommendations for downloads, now see their revenues affected by the customer loyalty of getting through every page of the authors’ book. Kindle Unlimited’s new contracts now force more blood, sweat and tears from authors to not just captivate the audience but force them to read their entire book in order for them to be paid a pittance in the end.
By Olivia Uribe-Mutal
Edited by Ankur Sinha
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Adweek – Kindle Unlimited Royalty Changes Are Unfavorable for Authors
Amazon – Announcement: KDP Select Global Fund Update
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