Although we think of ourselves as creative people because we write books, Amazon thinks of us as suppliers of a product they sell. They're using the product we produce--books--as a lure to sell more Kindles, hoping the people who buy those Kindles and get the free six month subscription will become members of Prime, where they really make money. KU isn't about us: it's about Amazon. If we aren't careful and put our books elsewhere and promote them elsewhere, they will eventually have a monopoly on the ebook business.
First, sorry Holly about your child. It's the worst feeling as a parent. Praying for his healing.
My sales were hurt after my very first year with Amazon when they did one of their changes to their algorithms. They've never quite recovered, but I'm putting out more books anyway. This is one reason why I've been a proponent of not having all your eggs in one basket, as Amazon can change anyone's visibility/payment in a Seattle minute. KU just shows how dangerous Amazon's control can be.
I agree with what Marian said, and I've said it before. Amazon is not about the "ebooks." They are about selling everything
. They collect all the data they can on you, and make suggestions daily based on your buying and search habits. They track whom you buy gifts for and when, all your purchasing patterns. Ebooks give them an easy way to track this data.
They use self publishers to plug gaps left when trades won't play their way. They promote us when they're at a stand still with publishers, they put us on a back burner during Christmas, when trades pay for prime advertising and promotion.
They'll plug us more in January, when people have their shiny new Kindles, but as I've said before it's not about the books, but Prime, subscription services, one click, emails, and access to peoples' search and buying habits. Books are truly a widget, and yes, a brand name may make one widget more desirable than another for a while, but they have the power to make new widgets even more desirable, or at least satisfactory as a replacement.