Amazon’s New Policy for Authors

For authors, and for readers:
I suspect Amazon just drove a stake into the heart of traditional publishing. Allow me to explain.
If you’re a voracious reader, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program is the best thing you’ve ever found. Just think, pay a $10/month subscription fee and read as many books as you want! Imagine a library with hundreds of thousands of books waiting to be checked out, and you can select ten of those and keep them as long as you like. As soon as you read the first book, return it and borrow another.
The only fly in the ointment is the selection; not many NYT Bestselling authors put their books in the Select program, so they’re not eligible for borrowing through KU. You do get access to a few bestsellers, but most are books written by Independent authors and publishers.
The drawback for authors is that a borrow through KU or Amazon Prime nets the author only about $1.33, half of what a sale would bring. Until now, a borrow of a 10-page short story earned exactly the same as a borrow of a 300-page novel.
That’s about to change.
Starting next month, Amazon will begin paying authors by the number of pages that a borrower reads. Their example indicated that an author with a 200-page novel that gets borrowed 100 times (using figures that may or may not be true) and read all the way through would earn about $1000.
My books tend to run in the 250-plus page length, and I’ve already had more than 100 borrows this month.
Good for me, not good for the writers of short stories. And it’s a huge source of new cash for authors, which means that you can expect to see lots of NYT Bestselling authors sign up for Select so they can get some of the pie. The hook? If you’re in select, you can’t digitally publish on Apple or B&N or any of the other publishers.
Lots of books from traditional publishers are showing up now as digital editions, but not on Select; they sell for twice to three times what an independent author gets, and they aren’t available for borrowing. But when the borrows begin paying almost as much as a sale, expect to see in influx of bestsellers. Which will bring in more KU subscribers. At the expense of Apple, B&N, Random House, etc.
Some will continue to buy paper-and-ink books, but price trumps almost everything. Prediction? Probably lawsuits, although I can’t see a basis for it. But the lawyers are sharpening their pencils now, because this is going to cost a lot of wealthy publishing houses huge amounts of money. There will be a huge influx of new subscribers to Amazon’s KU program. The subscription price may go up, even double, but it’s still a good deal for the avid reader. One hardback, $25, vs maybe a hundred high-quality books for less. LOTS of books available to read.
But only through Amazon.
RIP, traditional publishing.

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