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Author Topic: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?  (Read 8490 times)  

Offline Doglover

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Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: January 30, 2018, 05:57:37 AM »
I had an email this morning from Amazon offering me 3 months subscription to Kindle Unlimited for 1.99. This smacks of desperation to me, although I can't deny that I have taken them up on the offer.


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2018, 06:10:04 AM »
Ive seen them offering three free months. Im guessing theyre charging the notional fee of 1.99 to get your bank details. Youll need to be sure to stop the auto deductions when they try and up the price. Youre in the U.K. and Im not sure their take up for KU is good there.

Free and such heavy discounting doesnt send out a good message to the market. Whether they mean to or not, theyre pretty much saying the books in KU arent worth paying much for.

Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2018, 06:10:30 AM »
It's a loss leader, to get you hooked on the service. KU is a big funnel to Amazon, the everything store. They just want to get you into KU so you'll spend more time on the site and buy lots of other stuff. It's not as much about making money on the monthly KU charges.

Offline Doglover

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 06:14:34 AM »
Ive seen them offering three free months. Im guessing theyre charging the notional fee of 1.99 to get your bank details. Youll need to be sure to stop the auto deductions when they try and up the price. Youre in the U.K. and Im not sure their take up for KU is good there.

Free and such heavy discounting doesnt send out a good message to the market. Whether they mean to or not, theyre pretty much saying the books in KU arent worth paying much for.
They've already got my bank details as it's the same card I use for all Amazon purchases.

I had Kindle Unlimited once before, but couldn't find much that I wanted to read so I cancelled after the first free month.


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 06:17:49 AM »
They've already got my bank details as it's the same card I use for all Amazon purchases.

I had Kindle Unlimited once before, but couldn't find much that I wanted to read so I cancelled after the first free month.

Just make sure they dont auto deduct now youre registered on KU. They tried that trick when I was registered with Prime and I had to manually stop the deductions post the first month.

Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 06:20:11 AM »
It's a loss leader, to get you hooked on the service. KU is a big funnel to Amazon, the everything store. They just want to get you into KU so you'll spend more time on the site and buy lots of other stuff. It's not as much about making money on the monthly KU charges.
All of which would be fine with me--if they realized their vendors actually needed to make money.

Initially, they offered a month fee. More recently, they have been cranking out an increasing number of three-month discounted offers. If they were getting enough people paying the full price to make them happy, I doubt they would be doing that. However, a pattern like that could also mean that they're finding KU customers really are big spenders on other things, in which case an effort to expand their numbers could really pay off. (Why not make more money on a loss leader if you can?)


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 06:28:02 AM »
All of which would be fine with me--if they realized their vendors actually needed to make money.

Initially, they offered a month fee. More recently, they have been cranking out an increasing number of three-month discounted offers. If they were getting enough people paying the full price to make them happy, I doubt they would be doing that. However, a pattern like that could also mean that they're finding KU customers really are big spenders on other things, in which case an effort to expand their numbers could really pay off. (Why not make more money on a loss leader if you can?)

In the US, Im sure Prime membership does a good job of bringing people to the store, what with free shipping n all. Ive never bought in on the claim KU brings people to the store who then launch off and buy expensive items. Maybe it was true once, but theres something like 100m plus Prime members in the US alone.

I suspect theres a very different set of reasons for the deep discounting and free three months, but no one wants to explore why because it might not conclude anything good about the health of KU and its possible future.

Nuff said.  ;)

Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 06:29:48 AM »
All of which would be fine with me--if they realized their vendors actually needed to make money.

Initially, they offered a month fee. More recently, they have been cranking out an increasing number of three-month discounted offers. If they were getting enough people paying the full price to make them happy, I doubt they would be doing that. However, a pattern like that could also mean that they're finding KU customers really are big spenders on other things, in which case an effort to expand their numbers could really pay off. (Why not make more money on a loss leader if you can?)

Like I said, KU is a funnel. And they've publicly said that KU subscribers are buying lots of other things. It's working really well. I'm one of those people...I order all kinds of stuff from Amazon now that I never used to...things I used to buy at my local grocer, like disposable cat litter boxes, tea, notebooks, all kinds of things.

Offline KevinH

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2018, 06:46:22 AM »
I had an email this morning from Amazon offering me 3 months subscription to Kindle Unlimited for 1.99. This smacks of desperation to me, although I can't deny that I have taken them up on the offer.

This is a free hit off a crack pipe. The goal is to get you addicted. In short, I don't think it's desperation; the stats probably tell Amazon that, say, 60% of people who sign up for KU keep it for a year.  Thus, Amazon's goal may be to get as many sign-ups as possible, accepting that they'll lose some after the free trial but knowing that enough will remain to make the effort profitable.

Online Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2018, 06:49:48 AM »
While I don't think KU will last forever, I do think it is our immediate future. It's not going anywhere. As for health, you can find opinions on either side of the spectrum and they pretty much follow whatever an individual poster happens to believe about going into KU as an author rather than a reader. From a reader perspective (and I read a lot, 3-5 books a week), I think KU is doing well. I know quite a few people enjoying the system as a reader (and these are people I know in real life, not readers). These are all 3+ books a week readers, too. I think for people who only read a book a month or so, KU is never going to be their thing. The authors who say it's not doing well seem to be relying on wish fulfillment, which I get but it's probably not particularly constructive.
The truth is, Amazon doesn't need KU to make a profit. They don't care about that. They don't care about one part making a set amount of money. They care about the whole machine (millions of parts) coming together to make money. As Pam said, KU is a funnel. They want people to come for the books and stay for the televisions. I would imagine it's working well. Strictly from a shopper's point of view, I'm buying things at Amazon (laundry stuff, cat litter, pool supplies, even hardware) that I never thought i would buy at Amazon. I think a lot of people are doing that these days if the anecdotal stories I'm hearing are true.

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2018, 06:55:52 AM »
This is a free hit off a crack pipe. The goal is to get you addicted. In short, I don't think it's desperation; the stats probably tell Amazon that, say, 60% of people who sign up for KU keep it for a year.  Thus, Amazon's goal may be to get as many sign-ups as possible, accepting that they'll lose some after the free trial but knowing that enough will remain to make the effort profitable.
That might work, if it were not that I've already had the regular first month free last year and cancelled.


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Online Atlantisatheart

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2018, 06:56:13 AM »
Perhaps they figure that they need to up their game and get people in their book ecosystem before the others get a foothold and start taking customers away from them. While some people can afford, and don't mind, paying out for various subscription services, others have a limited income, so people in KU are less likely to go look over at Apple for books.

It's going to be interesting to see what amazon do over the next year.

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 06:57:59 AM »
And if you read Amazon's annual report, you'll note that KU is such a tiny piece of Amazon's income that it's not mentioned by name and lumped in with "annual and monthly fees associated with Amazon Prime membership, as well as audiobook, e-book, digital video, digital music, and other subscription services." And those services collectively have been growing year after year (2014--$2.7B, 2015--$4.4B, 2016--$6.3B).

Their subscription services aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 07:00:26 AM »
Perhaps they figure that they need to up their game and get people in their book ecosystem before the others get a foothold and start taking customers away from them. While some people can afford, and don't mind, paying out for various subscription services, others have a limited income, so people in KU are less likely to go look over at Apple for books.

It's going to be interesting to see what amazon do over the next year.

People who have KU subscriptions are less likely to go to apple to buy stuff, not because they can't afford it, but because they are already buying stuff on Amazon. I own a MacAir and an iPhone, have a KU subscription and buy way too many books outside of KU, but all of them through Amazon, because it's easy. I can one-click and am already there.

Online Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2018, 07:07:02 AM »
I'm actually an Apple device person but I get all my books from Amazon. I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad, iPhone and iPod (and am going to order an iWatch very soon) but I'm book loyal to Amazon for convenience. I also have a Kindle and three Echos. I'm upgrading to an Oasis reader relatively soon for the pool. I guess I'm kind of split on the devices now that I really think about it. I never read in the Apple store at all, though. Every book I've read for the past four or five years has come from Amazon EXCEPT for the random books I've picked up from Barnes & Noble while there in person and some used paperbacks I ordered online for the pool (now that I'm getting the Oasis that will no longer happen).

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Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2018, 07:31:17 AM »
I believe the Audible romance package is $6.95 a month if you have KU and $14.95 without it.  They're promoting the romance package a lot, so making KU even more affordable for a few months makes sense.

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Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2018, 07:40:57 AM »
They've been running sales for years. I got a year renewal at half price I think it was two years ago on Prime Day?

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2018, 07:44:55 AM »
I'm going to say no, but not for the reasons you think. I think the program is probably a major failure in terms of ROI for zon. But do I think they would shut it down and as such admit publicly that they failed? Highly unlikely. They'll take massive losses just so they aren't seen to have failed. If they do shut it down, it won't be a cold stop... they'll find a way to merge it with Prime or something.

That being said, it's truly laughable to think they are making it cheaper and cheaper to get into KU because KU is so successful. That's not how any of this works (ie. simple business principles).

I strongly encourage people to look into how Netflix has done things. They keep INCREASING their subscription fees because... they'd be idiotic not to, people are happy to pay more because they like Netflix.

Everything about KU is about it getting cheaper. Extending the free trial to two months or more. Offering 60% off on annual subscriptions. Lowering KENP rates. Modifying page counts. Implementing features to circumvent page count. Increasing cost of visibility (ie. milking authors via AMS). These are not the traits of a program that is wildly successful and which is flush with profit and customers lining up around the block to get in.

I do think KU will die the moment there is genuine competition that allows the unwashed masses to justify going wide. At that point, unless zon wants to absord tens of millions in losses just to save face, they'll effectively close the doors (but like I say, they'll flip the subscribers over to Prime or something).

The fact there are a handful of indies (ie. very very very small sample size) who do very well in KU has absolutely no bearing on the health of the program overall.


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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2018, 08:00:58 AM »
Amazon hasn't raised subscription prices for KU because that's not the program they're touting. KU is a very small portion of Prime. That's what they just raised prices on. As authors, we tend to see KU as a big thing. It's not. It's a tiny line item on Amazon's budget. They're interested in Prime, and KU is a way to sell Prime. That's what most authors don't seem to realize. Amazon cares about Prime bringing in money and customers. KU is simply a small way to help Prime do that.

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Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2018, 08:04:44 AM »
Just to add to my last comment. I think the increase in competition we're seeing coming down the pike is due to inside baseball. I guarantee you kobo, apple, B&N, know the inside scoop on KU.

If it was the juggernaut many seem to believe it is, I doubt others would be up for taking it on. I think they are up for the challenge because they know it's not nearly as successful as people are lead to believe. Although, just looking at the charts tells you that, KU is a niche-platform for heavy readers of specific genres.

Remember, the people who work at KU are friends with others in the industry and you better believe they share tales over beers and what not. Not to mention people who directly leave zon and go work for the competition who spill the beans. That's what I'll never get about Bezos treating his own employees so badly... it's the fastest way to make sure they rat you out to the competition in hopes of getting off the slave ship.

Everything points to KU being in trouble as we speak. But it will take a year before we see that weakness out in the open.

Or maybe I'm wrong and it's a powerhouse and zon simply does all these things that make it seem otherwise because that's how they roll.

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2018, 08:11:24 AM »
Amazon hasn't raised subscription prices for KU because that's not the program they're touting. KU is a very small portion of Prime. That's what they just raised prices on. As authors, we tend to see KU as a big thing. It's not. It's a tiny line item on Amazon's budget. They're interested in Prime, and KU is a way to sell Prime. That's what most authors don't seem to realize. Amazon cares about Prime bringing in money and customers. KU is simply a small way to help Prime do that.

They raised prices on the monthly fee to push people into the annual fee, which they did not raise fees on.

But regardless, if you have a program that people are signing up to in droves, you RAISE prices, you don't lower them (which extending free trials is basically a form of). You pay authors MORE so you can draw in more talent and make your offering even better (ie. exactly what Netflix has done).

The notion that the more successful zon is the more they cut their own revenue and margins, just makes zero business sense to me. Their behavior is exactly what you'd see from a program that is on shaky ground and trying to reach an inflection point of sustainability.

But I admit that zon often behaves in very illogical ways, so I'll accept the possibility that KU is hugely successful and zon is eroding profit regardless because, like i say, that's how they roll sometimes.

Offline notjohn

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2018, 08:17:18 AM »
I think this is all very true, and all very depressing. It does puzzle me why people will pay $120 a year to read second-rate fiction when they could get James Patterson and John Grisham etc free from the local e-brary. That's what I do, and I don't live in an especially enlightened state. I mean, if you're going to read rubbish, why not first-rate rubbish? I've just recently discovered that Icelandic thriller-writer, whathisname, The Shadow District man. That's good fun and well-written.

(And I love Amanda's distinction between readers and people she knows in real life, tee hee.)

While I don't think KU will last forever, I do think it is our immediate future. It's not going anywhere. As for health, you can find opinions on either side of the spectrum and they pretty much follow whatever an individual poster happens to believe about going into KU as an author rather than a reader. From a reader perspective (and I read a lot, 3-5 books a week), I think KU is doing well. I know quite a few people enjoying the system as a reader (and these are people I know in real life, not readers). These are all 3+ books a week readers, too. I think for people who only read a book a month or so, KU is never going to be their thing. The authors who say it's not doing well seem to be relying on wish fulfillment, which I get but it's probably not particularly constructive.
The truth is, Amazon doesn't need KU to make a profit. They don't care about that. They don't care about one part making a set amount of money. They care about the whole machine (millions of parts) coming together to make money. As Pam said, KU is a funnel. They want people to come for the books and stay for the televisions. I would imagine it's working well. Strictly from a shopper's point of view, I'm buying things at Amazon (laundry stuff, cat litter, pool supplies, even hardware) that I never thought i would buy at Amazon. I think a lot of people are doing that these days if the anecdotal stories I'm hearing are true.
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Offline Marian

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2018, 08:25:21 AM »
Amazon hasn't raised subscription prices for KU because that's not the program they're touting. KU is a very small portion of Prime. That's what they just raised prices on. As authors, we tend to see KU as a big thing. It's not. It's a tiny line item on Amazon's budget. They're interested in Prime, and KU is a way to sell Prime. That's what most authors don't seem to realize. Amazon cares about Prime bringing in money and customers. KU is simply a small way to help Prime do that.
Exactly! After a blowout quarterly report last year, a spokesman for Amazon gave credit to Prime for making $$$.

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2018, 08:29:51 AM »
I think this is all very true, and all very depressing. It does puzzle me why people will pay $120 a year to read second-rate fiction when they could get James Patterson and John Grisham etc free from the local e-brary. That's what I do, and I don't live in an especially enlightened state. I mean, if you're going to read rubbish, why not first-rate rubbish? I've just recently discovered that Icelandic thriller-writer, whathisname, The Shadow District man. That's good fun and well-written.

(And I love Amanda's distinction between readers and people she knows in real life, tee hee.)

A lot of people don't read the 'rubbish' you read, I'm one of them. Mainstream, been there-read that books from trad's bore my socks off. Thankfully, there are indies. That's why amazon got a foothold because they publish stuff people actually want to read.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2018, 08:37:34 AM »
It does puzzle me why people will pay $120 a year to read second-rate fiction when they could get James Patterson and John Grisham etc free from the local e-brary. That's what I do, and I don't live in an especially enlightened state. I mean, if you're going to read rubbish, why not first-rate rubbish?

notjohn, perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but it's hard for me to read this as other than an attempt to be rather extravagantly mean to your many fellow KBers who have books in KU. :(