Interesting story in the New York Times about
Following in the steps of all-you-can-eat services for movies and music (think Spotify or Netflix) where you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access, Amazon has announced a new service called Kindle Unlimited.
While great for consumers, Kindle Unlimited is a game-killer for authors who will now find their ebooks lumped in with millions of others for a much smaller piece of the financial pie. Granted, the Kindle Unlimited program is optional for authors who can opt out of participating and still sell their books for full price (maximum of $9.99 but most average $2.99) but your odds of selling your more expensive books outside the new all-you-can-eat offerings on Amazon is severely diminished.
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For serious authors this new devaluation of ebooks could be considered a mixed blessing in that it elevates the printed version several notches up in terms of difficulty to accomplish, barriers of entry, etc. After all, the ease of publishing on Kindle and the explosion of titles has turned ebooks into a commodity item as evidenced by this quote in the NY Times article:
In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million. The number of books on Smashwords, which distributes self-published writers, grew 20 percent last year. The number of free books rose by one-third.
For many authors, the paper versions of their efforts are the real pride and joy as well as the real or potential money makers. Having a Kindle version was a way to reach new readers and that may still be the case. But I always saw the Kindle/ebook versions as more of a marketing tool and now with this new decision by Amazon to devalue ebooks so completely I see the Kindle as more of a content marketing opportunity then ever before.
So if you’re a serious author you’ll have two choices: continue to create a companion Kindle version of your physical book as a way to reach new readers or opt out of the process altogether and just focus on the physical version. Neither option is ideal.
[Tweet “As a marketer, publishing an ebook in the Kindle store is akin to giving away a whitepaper.”]
But as a marketer, publishing an ebook in the Kindle store is akin to giving away a whitepaper or …. an ebook, which online marketers (including yours truly) have been doing for ages.
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So while this new Amazon deal sucks for authors, it’s a renewed opportunity for marketers to create content that speaks to their clients and customers in ways that help them solve problems and make potential buying decisions. This is the goal of all good, useful and relevant content marketing anyway, so by Amazon essentially giving away your content kind of plays right into your hands.
If you’ve ever been curious about DIY ebook publishing, check out Guy Kawasaki’s great website, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur which offers free templates, checklists, contracts.
Or check out the Kindle Publishing Training System (affiliate link) for just about everything you need to know to do it yourself.
If you’re interested in self-publishing a more traditional paper version of your book, check out boutique self-publisher Woodpecker Press, in New Jersey.
Additional Kindle Marketing Resources
What do you think? Is Kindle Unlimited a good thing, or bad?