Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

My Thoughts on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

Amazon did a thing.  Let’s talk about it.

I don’t want to debate whether or not this is good or evil because it’s not going to change what Amazon has done or will do in the future.  I just want to focus on what this means to readers and to authors.

Readers First (because it’s all about you)


Readers can start a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited and read over 600,000 titles.  All of the KDP select titles are included.  If you download a book “with narration” feature, you will be able to listen to the audiobook version for free as well, but you’ll need to pull it to the device you want to listen on.  It won’t download automatically.

If you read a lot of indie-published books, then Kindle Unlimited is made for you.  $9.99 would cover 3 books at $2.99 each or 10 books at $0.99 or 1 book at $5.99 and 3 books at $0.99.  If you read a $2.99 book per week, I think this price point seems reasonable.

It is important to remember that you are subscribing to a service that makes these titles available to the reader.  You aren’t actually buying the books.  But then again, Amazon already made it clear that that we are leasing these books and not actually buying them.

Authors Next (because we remember you eventually)

Goggles7Authors will be paid the equivalent of one ‘borrow’ when a customer meets two criteria: Downloads the Kindle e-book -and- reads past 10% of the e-book. I have heard that a borrow has equated to approximately a $2 royalty in the past.

Many customers, probably me included, will be trying out Kindle Unlimited in the near future. These new customers probably won’t be buying books except through Kindle Unlimited while they remain in the program.

To participate in Kindle Unlimited as an author means enrolling in KDP Select, which means that your e-book edition will be exclusive to Kindle.  Your e-book can’t be published through Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, your own website in PDF, or anywhere else in electronic format as long as your book is enrolled in KDP Select.  This exclusivity persists for 90-day periods.

Other People Weighing In

There’s a lot of great thoughts roaming the blog-o-verse and forums about Kindle Unlimited.  Here’s some of the more insightful ones I enjoyed:

Monocle 02Kindle Unlimited – Hugh Howey

Kindle Unlimited: The Key Questions – David Gaughran

To Kindle Unlimited, And Beyond – Chuck Wendig

Kindle Unlimited – Some Early Results – Neil Stephenson

Kindle Unlimited – Michael Underwood

Kindle Unlimited is Not a Library Card – Marie Sweetman

A Self-Published Author’s Thoughts on the Whole Kindle Unlimited Thing – Gus Sanchez

And Chris McMullen has some great analysis of Kindle Unlimited:
Kindle Unlimited—Good or Bad for Authors?
How Much Will Authors Make w/ Kindle Unlimited?
Kindle Unlimited & Marketing Strategies (for A-L-L Authors)
Will $5.99 be the new FREE?
Marketing Children’s Books with Kindle Unlimited
#Free #ebook w/ #KindleUnlimited (**New** Twitter Amazon Hashtags for Kindle Unlimited) #AmazonCart
How Can Kindle Unlimited Improve Your Sales?

So what do you think about this? Will this be beneficial for readers? What will authors need to do differently?

22 comments on “My Thoughts on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

  1. Marie Sweetman
    July 25, 2014

    Great write up–I totally agree with setting aside the good vs evil debate in favor of what this service may mean to the people who actually matter: readers & writers–and thanks for the shout out!

    • tracycembor
      July 25, 2014

      You are more than welcome for the shout out, especially for thoughtful posts like yours. I found the comparison between Kindle Unlimited, Oyster, and Scribd very educational. :D

  2. coldhandboyack
    July 25, 2014

    I think it’s great for voracious readers. It should also work out well for authors. There isn’t much risk for the subscriber, since the download doesn’t cost anything. If a reader isn’t enjoying a story, they can move on to the next one.

    I just want someone to try one of my books with KU, so I can see how it actually works for the author.

    • tracycembor
      July 25, 2014

      Just make sure you read 10% of the story so that the author will get paid for it. ;)

      I’m going to try Kindle Unlimited out this weekend. I’ll be sure to pick up your book.

      • coldhandboyack
        July 25, 2014

        That’s generous of you. I truly hope you enjoy whatever you pick. I’m dying to see what kind of notices and such Amazon sends out. Thank you.

      • coldhandboyack
        July 28, 2014

        Which one did you decide upon?

  3. Alex
    July 25, 2014

    One of the main things that has kept me away from Amazon’s E-books is the fact I don’t have a kindle and the difficulty in getting Amazon E-books onto a 3rd party desktop device (I managed to do it once or twice, but I can’t remember how for the life of me).

    I guess the concerns for me are access to content beyond an Amazon Approved e-reader device. I can’t help but wonder if, in an effort to close the loophole of people doing the digital equivalent of ‘stealing library books’, they won’t make it even harder to read books using something like Calibre.

    • tracycembor
      July 25, 2014

      You should be able to get a Kindle app on most tablet and smartphone devices. I do have a Kindle, so I’m trying to remind myself to not be so Amazon-centric.

      Calibre is something that makes me uncomfortable. It is supposed to be an ebook organizer, but in reality it is used by the book-pirating community. It allows you to download almost any format and convert it to another format.

      My friend Vicki Keire has a great article about it here:

      While I’d love to have the problem that my books are being pirated, I find piracy morally offensive. I don’t steal music and I don’t steal books. I understand that it happens, and current tactics to stop if are usually more damaging to an author than allowing the piracy to occur. That still doesn’t mean that it is acceptable.

      Sorry to wander off on a tangent, but yes, you are probably correct this is a way to give people “free” books and shutout other e-reader options. After all, why would Amazon want you to read their books on anything other than a Kindle?

      • Alex
        July 25, 2014

        Oh. Well, I just used Calibre because it was the first free compy-based reader I found.

        Honestly, all of my e-reading tends to be the freebies out there on the Drive-Thru sites which host multiple formats (so conversion hasn’t crossed my mind). Anything else I tend to buy in dead tree pulp format if it’s available as such.

        I’ll be sure to check your friend’s article, tho.

      • tracycembor
        July 25, 2014

        No worries, I know some people do actually use the program as it was intended. To be honest, I have only heard of it in the negative way. But I should probably be hating on the pirates and not the innocent software.

        I don’t know what the revenue loss is for authors due to books on the secondary market, but I suspect it isn’t too significant. (Makes note to do research) For other markets, like video games, I know secondary sales are a huge hit to publishers.

      • Alex
        July 25, 2014

        I know. There are contemporary authors that I love and would like to buy some of their newer books, but the $20-something that would have gotten me their new book just the previous week has bought me 20-30 books at a library sale, and now I’ve got a mountain of books that I don’t have time to plow through. Probably if I could read faster, I could better justify buying new books on top of the second-hand books.

      • Alex
        July 25, 2014

        I also suppose I’m just as bad for buying physical books, since I get almost all of my books for a couple of dollars at goodwills, savers and library sales :/

  4. chrismcmullen
    July 25, 2014

    Nice introduction and a great selection of resources (and thanks for considering my articles, too).

    • tracycembor
      July 25, 2014

      Your articles are clear, informative, and well-researched. Thank you for sharing your insights with the rest of us! I always enjoy reading your posts on self-publishing. :D

  5. mrschmoe
    July 25, 2014

    Agree or disagree, all in favour and all those not in favour. As for myself, I like to look at things in two sides of the coin.

    An exposure for indie authors can be a good thing. In a short term, shrugs. How indie authors going to benefit from KU in the long term, who knows. What I am certain, it’s going to be an interesting ride. Kindle Unlimited is definitely going to be popular with readers.

    • tracycembor
      July 25, 2014

      Yes, KU will certainly bring some changes. I am looking forward to hearing from indie authors and their experiences in a month or three.

      • mrschmoe
        July 25, 2014

        I will look forward in reading articles after a month or three. Life is like forks in road, you’ll never know which path take except only guess on a fly and move onward.

        I noted that small publishers would sign up for KDP select. Money is king, and besides people need to eat.

  6. Gus Sanchez
    July 25, 2014

    Tracy, thanks for the pingback!

    As a reader, I think KU is a terrific way to be introduced to self-published authors whom I probably would not have been made aware of. I’ve already discovered a few and have been really pleased.

    As an author whose work is now available on KU because mine is a KDP Select title, my concern is how will Amazon determine what this “pool” will be in terms of royalties. But I also see some untapped marketing strategies (free ebook with KU, y’all!) that can help me and countless other self-published authors via KU.

    Did I mention my ebook is free on Kindle Unlimited? #shamelessplug

    • tracycembor
      July 25, 2014

      You’re welcome. I like giving shout outs to my writer buddies. ;)

      I’m looking forward to trying out KU this weekend. No worries to the shameless plug. I’m going to read and do reviews for as many indie books as I can. Writers I know will be at the top of the list.

      And I don’t think indie writers should feel guilty about doing some self-promotion when it is relevant. After all, if you don’t promote yourself and your work, who will? It is the random spamming that starts annoying readers.

    • tracycembor
      August 5, 2014

      Thanks for sharing! I always enjoy reading other people’s take on issues like this. :D

  7. Pingback: News from the Publishing Hinterlands | tracycembor

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Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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