Oh the hand-wringing that has been going on the last week or so since the announcement of Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program. If you do a search of the term you will find reactions ranging from the direst of conspiracy theories that this is Amazon’s first move to screw of indies to praises that this is the next step in the digital book world. Me, I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m not making a final judgment until I see more information — mainly until I see how it pays and how it impacts my bottom line.
As of this morning, I have seen three things with regard to my own sales. Whether they can all be attributed to the new Unlimited program or not, I don’t know. It would be easy to say that they can be, but that would simply be guess work right now — with one exception.
So let’s start with the exception. This past week has seen the number of books “borrowed” go up astronomically. Prior to the program, I’d had one or two borrows this month. That number is now in the mid-double digits. I have no doubt that has to do with the Unlimited program. Why? Because, unlike the KOLL program where you could only borrow one book a month and had to return that before you could borrow another title, Unlimited lets you borrow up to 10 books at a time.
But there is also the newness of the program AND the fact that it is free for 30 days. That means there are a lot of folks out there giving the program a try. How many of those will convert to the paid service at the end of the 30 days has yet to be seen. I have a feeling a lot of them will, at least initially. But there will be a drop off, not only when the 30 days runs out but over time as people realize that they may not be able to get the books they want or that they aren’t reading enough to justify the $9.99/month price or that they don’t get to keep the e-books they download.
Depending on how payouts look, it very well may see a decrease in the number of authors and small presses involved in the KDP Select program. This is my biggest issue with the Unlimited program. If you are in KDP Select, you were automatically enrolled in the Unlimited program and there is no way to opt out. It is the first time I’ve really had an issue with Amazon when it comes to their KDP/Select platforms. But I’ll wait and see.
The next thing I’ve noticed over the past week is that my overall “sales” have decreased. However, if you add in the “borrows”, they are holding fairly steady with what they’d been the last few weeks. Others I’ve talked to have said that, after sales declines, their overall numbers are starting to rise again. A few have reported a decrease, but nothing major. Impact from the new program? It is too early to tell — not that that’s stopped the naysayers.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that even though my sales numbers are slightly lower, my rankings are pretty much holding steady. To me, that seems to say that the Unlimited downloads are being figured in when rankings are determined and also that, while there may be more books being downloaded right now because of the new program, those downloads are being spread out and not dramatically altering the algorithm.
So I guess what I’m saying is that we need not knee-jerk pro or con here but wait and see what happens over the next month or two.
Just my two cents’ worth.