An email I received today from one of my readers inspired this post. She wrote: “Wish your books were on Kindle Unlimited.”
For those of you not familiar with Kindle Unlimited (KU), it is a subscription service offered by Amazon. A subscriber pays a monthly subscription fee and then can read as many books as he or she wants—yet only books enrolled in KU.
Authors are paid by page reads—and the amount they are paid per page varies from month to month.
For an author like myself to enroll my eBooks on KU I must make them exclusive to Amazon. That means my readers can’t buy my eBooks at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords or Google. Only Amazon.
Months ago I surveyed my readers, curious how many wanted me to go exclusive to Amazon. As it turned out, a significant number of readers asked me to stay wide so they could shop at their favorite eBook store, which for them was not Amazon.
I confess, I am a big Amazon shopper. I belong to Amazon Prime and use it all the time. I don’t care to go shopping, so it’s a perfect fit for me—and it is where I usually buy my eBooks. But I understand some people have issues with Amazon or they just prefer shopping elsewhere, and I wanted to respect my readers, so I decided to keep the books wide. (Early on in the series they were briefly in KU.)
But if I am honest, there is a second reason I stay out of KU—paranoia. Unfortunately, KU has been a magnet for some scammers who have found ways to game the system, piling up phony page reads. In Amazon’s attempt to deal with this problem some legit authors get caught up in the net and find their Amazon publisher accounts closed. In some cases they are able to reinstate their accounts.
This is not a hobby for me—it is what I do to put food on the table and pay my mortgage. I can’t afford to have my books suddenly pulled off the shelf and wait for when or if they will go on sale again.
I am not saying this is likely to happen—or that I have any grudge against Amazon. In fact, Amazon has been very good to me, and while I understand they are a business and they will first consider their own interest before mine, I have done well because of them. However, that doesn’t curb my paranoia. I simply can’t risk it, even if my readers suddenly changed their minds and wanted me to put the books on KU.
For those readers looking for a more affordable read, I recommend the public library. My eBooks, audio books and paperbacks can be found in many public libraries, yet it often requires a request from library card holders to carry the books. (I have found it more likely to find the audiobooks, then the eBooks, and less likely the paperbacks.)
But please, avoid those sites who offer my books for free—not only is that basically stealing from the author, it’s common for the reader to download a virus or trojan along with the unauthorized free book—and sometimes the downloader doesn’t even get the eBook.