Book buffets

Before I was a writer, I was a reader…a voracious one, in fact.  Some of the credit for this goes to my mom and dad, who would read to me and with me as a child.  My mom was particularly sneaky in getting me started on my path to reading – she’d extend my bedtime a half hour or so, but only if I read (I’ll have to file that trick away for whenever I’m a mom).

That said, the reader in me is intrigued by Amazon’s new buffet style program for books (think of Netflix for books).  Although another part of me wonders, why not just take advantage of the age-old book buffet – the library?  I’m guessing that the difference between Amazon’s new service and the library would be number of titles available and lack of a waiting list.  While I’m not sure if I’ll sign up for Kindle Unlimited (my To Be Read list is already ridiculous), I understand the allure for a reader.  Mmmmm mountains of books. 🙂

books

Services like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited should help create new readers (yay! let’s strive to fill the world with readers!).  However, there are questions that are arising for authors, both traditional and indie.  Most of these questions focus on the bit of the business that no one ever wants to talk about – money.

While I’ve yet to publish anything, I can see both sides of the coin (yes, pun intended). Amazon Unlimited has the potential to get your book out to new readers, more readers (yay!) but at a flexing and lower price (boo).

But really, let’s face it – if you’re an unknown author (like me), you’ll have to run sales, promos, give-aways, and at times, nearly beg readers to look at you anyway.  Amazon Unlimited can help you to reach many readers who wouldn’t normally read an un-tested author – this is a huge win!  People will read your stories! (Give me a minute to grin about that 🙂 as just the thought of people reading a book I’ve written makes me gleeful.)

Let’s be honest – the dream of quitting your job for a life as an author is there for a lot of people – I’m not going to lie, a part of me wishes for this too.  However, you have to realize that depending on your needs (and the kind of lifestyle you aspire to), this is likely not a feasible option for most of us – unless you are able to freelance successfully, have a trust fund, or have a really understanding partner/parent/friend/person who will give you money just because you’re awesome.  (Side note: whatever happened to wealthy people sponsoring artists and writers?  Come on, wealthy people! Sponsor us…please! Please?)  If you’re an established author with a fan-base, people probably will buy your books anyway, so you have flexibility on whether or not you’d want to participate in the delicious book buffet.

For me – the voracious reader and the someday little self/indie published author – I say, let’s give this Amazon Unlimited a go.  Let’s see the places it takes us and the (dare to dream) new readers it creates.

…and hey, for those of you worried about making not big bucks from a single title …you can still dream about that movie deal. 🙂

What do you think about Kindle Unlimited and similar services?

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14 thoughts on “Book buffets”

  1. From what I’ve been reading it hasn’t exactly been helping undiscovered authors. Despite not selling many copies of their books to begin with, when they signed up for the program on Amazon many have said the income from their novels has dropped do to a minuscule fraction of what it used to be. Those extra eyes didn’t translate to more sales or word of mouth either. I’m even seeing big name authors saying its hurt them, and they’ve pulled their books from the service. The publishing industry doesn’t work the same way as the movie or music industry, and I’m not sure the same kind of solutions are going to were there. The problem is Amazon’s self-publishing service is an overcrowded marketplace for something that is becoming increasingly niche. It makes me sad.

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    1. From what I’ve gleaned from the Writer’s Digest Conference last year, sadly this industry is becoming about quantity – quite a few speakers mentioned that when you publish (especially if it’s the traditional route), it becomes all about your second (and third, fourth, etc) book. Kindle Unlimited kind of works to that model, where people can discover you and then buy the books that aren’t included in the service (or even the idea that you can make up for the hit to your income by simply selling more books at a lower price). It is sad and frustrating though, especially when you pour so much of your time, energy, and soul into a body of work. It’s still early yet, to judge how kindle unlimited and other services will impact the industry. But remember, similar models – like a library, where an author is paid a smaller royalty fee per electronic copy, have been around for a good amount of time and libraries haven’t made the industry implode or caused authors to become paupers. Libraries have helped to grow the reading public and share knowledge in our communities…I know its incredibly naive, but maybe Kindle Unlimited can do the same. 🙂

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      1. The difference in libraries and a digital front like Kindle Unlimited is that one is predicated on a limited supply of a physical item. On something like Kindle Unlimited, there are no such boundaries. Then you have the even smaller payout than you would get from just self-publishing and self-marketing, based on the meager monthly returns Amazon is giving to indies for the “buffet.” Anyway, it doesn’t affect me. I would never self-publish on a service like the Kindle. I think its a terrible idea. I think Amazon is bad for the publishing industry.

        http://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-kindle-unlimited-good-for-customers-not-so-good-for-authors/

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      2. The jury is still out for me on Amazon for the publishing industry. I think a lot of interesting changes are going on in the publishing industry – like hybrid models which look really interesting. The beauty of all of these models is that you can pick based on what works for you. I’m still not sure which is the best option for a small fry like me though – but I think, before making any decisions, authors should do as much research as they can AND run the numbers to see how much up front costs they’re willing to pay or how much control over their royalties and their work they are willing to give up. The whole thing just makes my mind spin.

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      3. I doubt it makes your mind spin that much. You’ve done a ton of research already, more than me about certain aspects of self-publishing. You really know your stuff. Don’t put yourself down, even in a joking manner. I was just stating my opinion, which can be strong and often wrong.

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      4. I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong (and don’t apologize for speaking your mind, you know I value your opinions). Remember that modes of publishing as well as marketing have become the subjects of much debate among the writing community. And you’re right, I have done a fair bit of research, though I still have a long way to go before making up my mind on which path to choose. It’s a tricky business and the publishing comminity is now going through changes (due to kindle, hybrid publishing, crowd funded publishing, etc) that there’s always some new tidbit to learn. I think I may compile my research at some point and maybe write a post about it.

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      5. I’d love to see a post about that. You should do it for sure. I understand that everything is in a state of flux. You’re still seeing major growing pangs of the digital age in the movie and music industries, let alone the lumbering dinosaur that is the traditional publishing industry. Still, you’re talented and you’re smart about this stuff. I’ve no doubt you’ll find the path that works best for you.

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  2. I’m with you. The first step to success is getting someone to read the book. I’d rather make a little from Unlimited than zero from a big giveaway. In fact, I may not be doing giveaways at all any more, unless it’s directly to select friends.

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    1. Yeah, I have no idea what my marketing/pricing plan will be once I’m ready to publish. I’ve heard giveaways can help, but I’m sure it’s only up to a certain point. Maybe a good route would be sales through bookbub? I have no idea.

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  3. I have never heard of Amazon Unlimited, well I have heard of Amazon, inspiring people to read is always a good thing, as long traditional book shops don’t go out of business, there is something wonderful about book covers on shelves. I have a Kindle app for reviewing purposes because I’m a big fat hyprocrite but I think that overall it’s a good thing and computers will bnever have that awesome book scent that we all crave to sniff deeply at.

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    1. You are right, nothing can compare to a real book – the feel, the smell, and the fact that it’s better for my eyes than looking at a screen. 🙂 And I love book stores – especially small ones. It’s always been a dream of mine to open a small bookshop. 🙂

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