Take a break for a few weeks and the industry changes again! It's been quite the month with my new baby on board but it feels good to be back in the swing of things. And not a moment too soon! Less than two weeks ago, Amazon announced it's new Kindle unlimited service. For just $9.99 a month, members would have access to over 600,000 Kindle e-books.
For the reader, this sounds like a goldmine. All the books you can read without worrying about wasting your money on books you might not enjoy. Russ Grandinetti, Kindle Senior VP exclaimed "With Kindle Unlimited, you won't have to think twice before you try a new author or genre - you can just start reading and listening."
It also seems like an opportunity for those who self pub. Even at low price points, it's difficult sometimes for readers to pull the trigger and purchase a title they aren't familiar with. The new unlimited service would eliminate this hurdle.
However, upon closer inspection, there may be a few issues that need to be addressed. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords notes in a recent Huffington Post article the drawbacks of Amazon's new service. The issue is exclusivity. Indie authors wishing to be a part of the service cannot be a part of other competitive services such as Oyster and Scribd.
"Exclusivity...is not necessarily great for authors and readers. Exclusivity starves competing retailers of books readers want to read, which forces readers to move their reading to the Kindle platform."
Coker goes on to state that "Authors who cycle their books in and out of KDP Select (an option of Amazon's self-publishing platform) will have a more difficult time building readership at Amazon's competitors.
Even with all the selection, readers may still find it difficult to find books they really want to read. Anick Jesdadun of JConline compared "The library of 600,000" to that of a "small bookstore with a few current titles attached to a block-sized bargain bin of obscure stuff mixed with classics that are in the public domain and available for free online anyway."
Already, we're seeing the effects of the new service on what Amazon subscribers are choosing to read and it's having a direct impact on Amazon Kindle's best-seller list. Digital Book World noted that prior to the launch of Kindle Unlimited, there were "15 ebooks that would have been part of Kindle Unlimited that were top 100 best-sellers on Kindle; the week following, that number has ballooned to 45."
It will be interesting to see how this plays out but given Amazon's prowess to date, I suspect that whatever happens, they will continue to be at the forefront of change...at least for now.