Author Topic: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?  (Read 8059 times)  

Offline Anna Drake

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2018, 08:39:30 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.

Interesting.


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Offline Arches

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2018, 08:41:03 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.

This ^^^^

KU is doing exactly what Amazon wants, which is tying people closer to the entire Amazon ecosystem. The program  is likely to change over time, but it isn't going away anytime soon.

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2018, 09:37:17 AM »
This ^^^^

KU is doing exactly what Amazon wants, which is tying people closer to the entire Amazon ecosystem. The program  is likely to change over time, but it isn't going away anytime soon.

what makes me chuckle with all this is that indies now view KU the way TP's viewed B&M. They ignored the impending risk amazon brought to the market and misunderstood consumer behavior. They thought they were king of the hill and no one could dethrone them.

Now indies feel that way about KU. It's their little fort knox and there's no way it can get robbed.

We'll see. If the program didn't have the flaws in it that it does, I might agree. But otherwise, the moment some real competition enters the market, it's anything but safe.

The other thing that makes me chuckle is that zon OWNS the ebook market and still can't raise the price on KU. That should tell you what the real state of the union is behind the scenes.

Either way, if KU dies it's not the end of the world. People can sell direct and still make money.

Offline Mercia McMahon

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2018, 09:47:05 AM »
UK customers are less attracted to Prime because of its delivery options as we do not have the big distances from the nearest depot in most of the five nations. I don't know what the US offering is, but Prime in the UK is Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Prime Music (a subset of Amazon Music Unlimited) and Amazon Prime Reading (a subset of Kindle Unlimited). So offering Kindle Unlimited on a cheap deal would give someone an insight into the wider book offering, just as the free month on Music Unlimited is constantly offered to me as a Prime Music user. Both Music Unlimited and Kindle Unlimited are the same price as Prime. It is likely that Prime Reading is killing off the British market for Kindle Unlimited and authors exclusive to Amazon should rejoice that their partner is seeking to grow the market, especially for those without books in Prime Reading.


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Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2018, 09:55:13 AM »
I think for the most part, we're thinking about KU from the wrong perspective. it continues to be inexpensive, and Amazon continues to offer special subscription deals, because the subscribers are the product Amazon wants. As authors, we think of the books as the products, but Amazon's goal is to develop, build, and maintain a large subscriber base.

The books are the incentive, but the subscribers are the product, and the low entry fees are to reduce the subscriber's resistance.

Think of the publishing landscape as a collection of separate marketplaces. Ebooks are one marketplace. Print is another marketplace, and audible is a third marketplace. Anybody who can own a corner of that marketplace--by which i mean the product (the consumer) is exclusive--has captured something of value. Amazon's approach has always been to try and own exclusivity to a piece of a market. This is not so that they can make money on the subscribers; it's so that they can make money on the companies who want to enter that exclusive section of the marketplace.

Kindle Unlimited isn't going anywhere. The longer it lasts and the more stable it promises to be, the greater the likelihood Amazon will attract trad pub books, with contractual arrangements that are advantageous to Amazon.

Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2018, 09:59:14 AM »


The other thing that makes me chuckle is that zon OWNS the ebook market and still can't raise the price on KU. That should tell you what the real state of the union is behind the scenes.

This is where the biggest error is made. You assume Amazon WANTS to raise the price on KU. It's not that they can't. It's that it doesn't fit their plan for the time being. It's not about KU. It's about Prime. That's where the rate increase will come, not to KU. KU is such a small part of their budget it's practically non-existent. Prime is the focus. That's where you need to look for answers.

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Offline Atlantisatheart

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2018, 10:06:01 AM »
This is where the biggest error is made. You assume Amazon WANTS to raise the price on KU. It's not that they can't. It's that it doesn't fit their plan for the time being. It's not about KU. It's about Prime. That's where the rate increase will come, not to KU. KU is such a small part of their budget it's practically non-existent. Prime is the focus. That's where you need to look for answers.

Yep, KU is amazon's version of our free or reduced books, get those email address, get eyes on the products, and hook those customers.

I think we'll see KU-4-5-125, but they won't kill it unless outside forces do it for them by stealing all the mid-list authors away and losing customers because they have nothing left to offer.

Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2018, 10:18:30 AM »
This is where the biggest error is made. You assume Amazon WANTS to raise the price on KU. It's not that they can't. It's that it doesn't fit their plan for the time being. It's not about KU. It's about Prime. That's where the rate increase will come, not to KU. KU is such a small part of their budget it's practically non-existent. Prime is the focus. That's where you need to look for answers.

Exactly, KU is Amazon's $0.99 lead-in.  :P

Offline RTW

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2018, 10:26:20 AM »
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. :(
I second that emotion.


Offline kw3000

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2018, 10:33:27 AM »
Now indies feel that way about KU. It's their little fort knox and there's no way it can get robbed.

Some indies might view KU as an entity unto itself, but in the grand scheme at Amazon it's just another point of entry. The stuff we zygotes put up for sale there is just meant to entice people through the grand Amazon door, we're not an end goal nor is KU it's own standalone thing.

If you're focusing on KU as being profitable/non-profitable or being a failure/success then you're pretty much missing the point of what KU is and why it exists. It's not a business in and of itself that follows the typical live/die cycle. It's a portal, a form of enticement - and for Amazon - it works.

Now, if you're hoping or waiting for KU to go away, well, you're going to be hoping and waiting for a mighty long time because as long as Amazon has washers, dryers, laptops, baby formula, cloud computing services, exercise equipment, video games, EVERYTHING to sell and as long as millions continue buying they're going to want to keep an incentive or an enticement to keep people coming through the door. That's where programs like KU come in. Sure, the name might change, the terms or set up might change or be tweaked, but the essential aim and function ain't going anywhere...at least not anytime soon.

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Offline Luke Everhart

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2018, 10:43:19 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 ...
Me too. I'm an Apple fanboy. I've also got a MacBook, an iPad, iPhone, and iPod. But, except for once in a blue moon when I pick up a book from Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books, I get all my books on my Zon Kindle. And I use Zon's Echoes (have 2 and changed the action word from "Alexa" to "Computer" so it's really cool like Star Trek 😁)
I only read an average of 2 books a week but I'm still a huge Kindle fan/user. And, like Amanda Lee mentioned in her earlier post, it's probably not a coincidence that I too have bought an awful lot of junk er, stuff from Zon in the last 5 years or so -- I've had a Kindle for the last 6 years.
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Offline G.L. Snodgrass

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #36 on: January 30, 2018, 10:55:43 AM »
KU isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It continues to meet its objectives.

1. Bringing more people into the Amazon store and Prime
2. Stopping competing subscription models from taking market share from the Amazon book store.
3. An excuse for exclusivity. Amazon has the most books. Books you can't find at other stores.

These great selling points are achieved at very little cost. Why would they kill it?

KU meets Amazon objectives and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2018, 10:59:07 AM »
This is where the biggest error is made. You assume Amazon WANTS to raise the price on KU. It's not that they can't. It's that it doesn't fit their plan for the time being. It's not about KU. It's about Prime. That's where the rate increase will come, not to KU. KU is such a small part of their budget it's practically non-existent. Prime is the focus. That's where you need to look for answers.

Not buying it, sorry  :P

Why charge $10 then? Why not $5? Or why not free with every kindle purchase or Prime subscription?

Why split some imaginary pot and have KENP rates? If it's a loss leader why not just cull the top books and pay them to be in KU?

There are soooo many ways you could increase KU membership ten-fold if you didn't care about the economic sustainability of the program.

This notion of KU as an entry point into the amazon store I've always thought to be a rather silly urban myth that is perpetuated as fact when as far as I can tell it is not. The notion that zon needs KU to draw people into the store is laughable. You could remove all books from amazon and the accountants at zon probably wouldn't even notice.

KU is nothing more than an attempt to corral the indies, keep them exclusive to amazon, and ultimately try to bend the TP's to amazon will. All this other rationalization people layer onto KU is wishful thinking.

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #38 on: January 30, 2018, 11:00:57 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.)

Second rate fiction?
Rubbish?
Pretty interesting.

Amanda refers to email she gets from readers/online conversation with readers, vs. people she knows in person. Some people get lots of mail from readers and have lots of conversations with them, which gives an insight into how readers view and use KU. I'm not sure what you intended here--perhaps to imply that the readers are imaginary? Or???

I think those of us who do very well in KU are clear-eyed about it. We make enough money from it to be insulated against eventually having to go wide should something change, and meanwhile, it's a much easier path as you don't have to do nearly as much work to maintain it. If you make mid-five to six figures on borrows per month, especially with little ad spend--that's awfully hard to replicate wide without a lot of time and effort.

I tend to assume, personally, that others are capable of experimenting for themselves to find their own best path, and following that. It won't be the same for every author, including authors in the same genre. Why? Not sure. I write about as off-trend as anyone can, and Select works for me and always has. It doesn't work as well for other authors I know, so they chose a different path.

I will also acknowledge that the marketing opinions/industry analysis of people who do very, very well in this business over time carry more weight for me. But here on KBoards, that very success tends to get your opinion dismissed. Odd.

The insults are tiresome, though. A "tee-hee" about Amanda's opinion? The laughing emoticon above? One thing I'll point out that many successful authors, male and female, have noticed is that successful male authors are listened to much more respectfully than successful female authors, especially in this space. Next time you're tempted to write "tee-hee" or make a laughing emoticon to signal your disdain of a female six- or seven-figure indie's opinion, you might pause and think about that.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 11:04:24 AM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #39 on: January 30, 2018, 11:05:29 AM »
I will also acknowledge that the marketing opinions/industry analysis of people who do very, very well in this business over time carry more weight for me. But here on KBoards, that very success tends to get your opinion dismissed. Odd.

except that when it comes to "successful" authors the sample size is so small that it's nearly meaningless.

Should i write one book online chapter by chapter, then publish on zon, and expect that I'll get a movie starring Matt Damon? Obviously not. So success doesn't always equal a template for success.

I'm not saying to ignore successful people, merely that we have to understand the full scope of how and why they were successful. Too often on kboards it's cover+blurb+ write fast+ market hard = success.

But we all know that's not true as plenty of people do that and don't succeed, even though a small handful do (and while its a small number it appears big because those authors are very vocal about making sure everyone knows how successful they are).


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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #40 on: January 30, 2018, 11:14:56 AM »
except that when it comes to "successful" authors the sample size is so small that it's nearly meaningless.

Should i write one book online chapter by chapter, then publish on zon, and expect that I'll get a movie starring Matt Damon? Obviously not. So success doesn't always equal a template for success.

I'm not saying to ignore successful people, merely that we have to understand the full scope of how and why they were successful. Too often on kboards it's cover+blurb+ write fast+ market hard = success.

But we all know that's not true as plenty of people do that and don't succeed, even though a small handful do (and while its a small number it appears big because those authors are very vocal about making sure everyone knows how successful they are).


It's a wonder that anybody who does well posts here at all. Almost all of them have left. One guess why. Yet a few are still swinging, trying to help others succeed. I wrote specific-you a post trying to help just yesterday, and we still get this kind of sneer back.

There really is not a secret to how to do this business. Not everyone who does it will succeed, just as not everybody who aims at the NFL will get there. However, the people who do get there will share certain qualities and habits. All you can do is put forth your best efforts. Many, many of us have gone to the trouble to write detailed posts (in the Helpful Posts sticky thread above) about our path. Does that mean personal-you will get there? Nope. Not necessarily. But if you write books lots of people want to read, produce them on a regular schedule, present them very well, and find a way to get them visible, you've got a SHOT. We've tried to lay out some possible paths to help others, as we were helped when we were searching for the path ourselves. But sometimes, you have to wonder why you bother.

Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #41 on: January 30, 2018, 11:16:10 AM »
KU is nothing more than an attempt to corral the indies, keep them exclusive to amazon, and ultimately try to bend the TP's to amazon will. All this other rationalization people layer onto KU is wishful thinking.

It's not wishful thinking, it's sensible market analysis. "...an attempt to corral the indies" is not a sensible market analysis, it's tin-foil-hat alarmism.

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #42 on: January 30, 2018, 11:16:24 AM »
But we all know that's not true as plenty of people do that and don't succeed, even though a small handful do (and while its a small number it appears big because those authors are very vocal about making sure everyone knows how successful they are).

I appreciate the authors who come here and tell everyone about their success.
I also appreciate the authors who come here and tell everyone about their failures.
Please continue to be vocal. You are appreciated :)
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Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #43 on: January 30, 2018, 11:26:01 AM »
It's not wishful thinking, it's sensible market analysis. "...an attempt to corral the indies" is not a sensible market analysis, it's tin-foil-hat alarmism.

Other than it's exactly what amazon has done. But I WILL put on a tin foil hat and say that I suspect the Kobo walmart deal has more to do with TP's than it does indies. We think we're the game, we aren't. The "talent" (which still primarily resides in the TP world) are the prize people are after (including zon).

Evidence that KU is some entry point into the wider store is non-existent. That's tin-foil hat in that there is no proof that's the intent of the program or that it's performing that function, merely that indies have repeated the notion so many times that it's now taken as fact. And it's taken as fact because it conveniently explains away a lot of the gripes people have with KU... "amazon isn't running KU based on business fundementals because it's really a trojan horse into the zon ecosystem."

Yes, one of the biggest companies in the world run by the richest man in the world need Tim, Dick and Harry's self-published book to grow their customer base.   :o


Offline Seneca42

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #44 on: January 30, 2018, 11:30:27 AM »
We've tried to lay out some possible paths to help others, as we were helped when we were searching for the path ourselves. But sometimes, you have to wonder why you bother.

I don't know why when some joe-blow like me disagrees with you, you always have to throw otu the "ohhhh i've helped so many people and you don't appreciate it... why do i even bother."

Me disagreeing with you on something isn't some admonishment of you. We disagree. Not sure why that can't be seen as a simple difference of opinion.


Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2018, 11:31:13 AM »
I'm not in KU as an author nor do I subscribe to it as a reader, so I've got a pretty outside perspective here, but I do know that when I'm on Amazon looking at books, I get frequent pop-ups badgering me to join KU, and there's no way to say "stop showing me this". That does kind of smack of desperation to me. Either that, or Amazon trying to force itself on its customers, trying to make them conform to the behavior it wants from them at the cost of making their website/ecosystem comfortable and easy to use. Which, for a lot of us, is only driving us away faster, the exact opposite of the effect they want. But I guess it's like pop-ups on websites, which also drive me away quickly, but which some people still strongly encourage others to use because they insist they work. Maybe lots of people aren't as easily annoyed by websites/companies as I am? I don't know. My books aren't really right for the KU audience anyway, and until/unless Amazon makes real efforts to get more books into KU that are in genres others than those already doing well in KU, I doubt I'll have any interest in KU either as a reader or author, so my perspective will likely continue to be that of an outsider.

KU is one niche. I'm glad it works for those it works for. It does seem to me that it's not doing as well for Amazon as Amazon likes to pretend, though.

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2018, 11:33:46 AM »
I don't know why when some joe-blow like me disagrees with you, you always have to throw otu the "ohhhh i've helped so many people and you don't appreciate it... why do i even bother."

Me disagreeing with you on something isn't some admonishment of you. We disagree. Not sure why that can't be seen as a simple difference of opinion.


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Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2018, 11:37:22 AM »
Other than it's exactly what amazon has done. But I WILL put on a tin foil hat and say that I suspect the Kobo walmart deal has more to do with TP's than it does indies. We think we're the game, we aren't. The "talent" (which still primarily resides in the TP world) are the prize people are after (including zon).

well, no, that's not an objectively factual statement at all. That's an interpretation forwarded by a number of people on this board. That doesn't mean it's true. Amazon isn't forcefully corralling indies into their market. They created a new market (within the larger ebook market) and decided to reward people a certain way for participating in that market.

Active antagonism toward the largest bookseller in the United States isn't productive or useful. Creating narratives where 'we' are all being abused in some way by one of the distributors of the books we write doesn't help anybody. It is not the case where we all have to rise up against the oppressor (or whatever) because we aren't being oppressed. We're part of a changing market, and we have to adapt to the changes, and the changes aren't personal. That's all.

Offline kw3000

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2018, 11:48:29 AM »
Not buying it, sorry  :P

Why charge $10 then? Why not $5? Or why not free with every kindle purchase or Prime subscription?

Why split some imaginary pot and have KENP rates? If it's a loss leader why not just cull the top books and pay them to be in KU?

There are soooo many ways you could increase KU membership ten-fold if you didn't care about the economic sustainability of the program.

This notion of KU as an entry point into the amazon store I've always thought to be a rather silly urban myth that is perpetuated as fact when as far as I can tell it is not. The notion that zon needs KU to draw people into the store is laughable. You could remove all books from amazon and the accountants at zon probably wouldn't even notice.

KU is nothing more than an attempt to corral the indies, keep them exclusive to amazon, and ultimately try to bend the TP's to amazon will. All this other rationalization people layer onto KU is wishful thinking.

I for one don't really care if KU exists or it doesn't. I don't try to rationalize it's existence or engage in wishful thinking, I try to see it for what it is. Can you say the same if your stance is that you'd like to see KU die?

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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« Reply #49 on: January 30, 2018, 11:55:09 AM »
We've tried to lay out some possible paths to help others, as we were helped when we were searching for the path ourselves. But sometimes, you have to wonder why you bother.

I guess because we hope there's some infinitesimal chance a newbie will read through the dross and find useful, actionable advice.