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Discussion Starter #1
In the beginning, there was light, and also Amazon proudly telling indie writers they would have control over everything in the publishing process, including the price of their books. As KU borrows now account for the vast majority of sales (and probably 90% of sales within another 2 or 3 years by current trends), this power to control the price of your work is gone. Now, you will be paid the same as every other author, no matter how you price your work. Eventually, they will stop individual sales altogether and there will only be subscription purchases.

Many authors still see their books in their minds as priced at $2.99 or £1.99, but with the majority of sales being KU, this is not the case. A standard 70,000 word novel is maybe around $1.51 in the US and £1.12 in the UK in KENP income. While the author will get all of this, they only get 70% of the regular listed sale price. Meaning a $2.99 / £1.99 book will net the writer a pre-tax income of $2.09 or £1.39. When the vast majority of sales are KENP, these incomes per book would be the equivalent of pricing your novels not at $2.99 or £1.99 but at $2.13 or £1.59, because 70% of these figures will return what a KENP of 70k novel would bring in. Meaning, that in a time of inflation when book prices should be going up, Amazon has cut author's prices from $2.99 to $2.13 and from £1.99 to £1.59 (for a 70k book).

So this thread is about how to maximise income with a purely KU model (which is surely on the way). The way I see it, there are two paths. 1) Write lots of shorter novella length books, which while bringing in less KENP per title, enable an author to bring more books to market, get more "shelf-space" and visibility and also rack up the page count across a series faster. 2) Write longer novels which will bring in a higher KENP per individual but will of course take longer to produce and mean fewer titles on the shelf.

Any ideas welcome, and also perhaps your KENP mileage may vary depending in your genre or reading demographic. I have heard, for example, that much older people who read "cosy crimes" are more likely to buy individually rather than subscribe, but I'm not in this genre so can't say.  Thanks in advance to all contributors.

Also, stupid diamond icon is a GBP British pound sign :)
 

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Oh please. You've made an inane conclusion based on no evidence and now want people to debate their future? This is some kind of weird text roleplaying exercise, not an actual issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I admit the assumption that one day most if not all sales will be KENP is just that - an assumption, but you'd have to be asleep not to be able to recognize the trend from 100% sales a few years ago to perhaps 30% of 40% sales now, with the rest being subscription. Open minds and serious business people need to look into the future and ask what happens when the subscription sales grow even larger as a percentage. Hopefully when some people like that come along, I'll get my discussion.
 

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Redgum said:
I admit the assumption that one day most if not all sales will be KENP is just that - an assumption, but you'd have to be asleep not to be able to recognize the trend from 100% sales a few years ago to perhaps 30% of 40% sales now, with the rest being subscription.
Of course there's been a trend from 100% sales to much less than that now. Because five or so years ago there was no such thing as a subscription service. Once that became available, big readers availed themselves of it. But Kindle Unlimited has been around for quite a while now, and Amazon isn't 100% subscription based, and it likely never will be, because there are lots of people out there who like to buy books rather than borrow them. Unless those book-buying people suddenly all just change their minds, we're never going to wind up with zero sales.
 

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I don't see the harm in the OP's expressing his concerns or speculations, even if they seem to be a bit early. It's interesting to ponder where things might be in 10 years.

The fact is, though, a lot of people are making money off of KU now, and I don't see too many complaints from them about it. And if everything for some reason went all KU they would still be making money.
 

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Not sure where this high figure for KU is coming from.  I have only 1 book in KU and sales from KU are 3% on that book. My other 7 books are not in KU, they are wide. Thus, less than 1% of my total sales are KU, and the ZON itself is only 37% of my total sales. I sell more at Barnes & Noble (38%), and other retailers do well in the 10% range.

Here's an idea for the OP, go wide on 1 book and see the light. Zon is not the whole world. Of course, you will need to advertise. Readers don't find books by falling over them. For example, if you target Kobo readers on a good Kobo promotion (on their site) or on targeted Facebook ads, you'll pull in good sales at full price (7.99 to 9.99).  B&N readers in particular are fond of higher priced books.

Food for thought. Don't panic just yet. (And I doubt subscriptions will ever take over individual sales, as long as King, Koontz, Brown, Patterson, etc, refuse to join KU.)  - My 2 cents is worth a penny.
 

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jb1111 said:
I don't see the harm in the OP's expressing his concerns or speculations, even if they seem to be a bit early. It's interesting to ponder where things might be in 10 years.

The fact is, though, a lot of people are making money off of KU now, and I don't see too many complaints from them about it. And if everything for some reason went all KU they would still be making money.
I don't think there's anything wrong with expressing concerns or speculation, either. But it would be nice if it had a few fewer wild guesses and a bit more realism. These the-sky-is-falling posts state guesses as facts, and they just tend to upset people for no reason.
 

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Extrapolating trends linearly will always be wrong, and wildly wrong over the long term. Doing so makes for interesting dystopian fiction, but as has been said by Yogi Berra and others, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

The real world does not work linearly. Black Swans appear and cause shifts, then a new normal emerges for a while. Factors small and large come into play from all directions. All systems involving millions (or billions) of people are mathematically chaotic.

The problem isn't in proposing or discussing trends. The problem is in expecting any trend to continue indefinitely. Railroads in North America exploded in importance in the 1800s, showing exponential growth--until the near-simultanous advents of powered flight and the automobile caused railroad growth to plateau and eventually be relegated mostly to moving freight.

Similar things can be said of many disruptive technologies and delivery modes, such as digital books. They burst on the scene, grow exponentially, then plateau or even decline as conditions and technologies change. There's only ever 100% of anything, and going from 0% to (say) 50% is exponential growth, but going from 50% to 60% is not--and that item seldom if ever approaches 100%.

The Kindle-led ebook disruption seized 30-40%-ish of the overall English-language book market within five years (quibble about the numbers depending on how you figure it, but that's ballpark) but the growth from then on has been slow and incremental. KU disruption seized 30-40%-ish of the EL digital market (more in genre fiction, less in other areas) and growth from then on has been slow and incremental. Mathematically, all of these things create growth curves that look very similar--a big rise, then a plateau and slow growth toward some limit.

It takes generations to cause technologies to be functionally obsolete, and even then, the old stuff lingers in specialty markets. We still have horse breeders and races, buggy builders, fine mechanical watches, blacksmiths with hammers and anvils, black powder enthusiasts, people who knit and craft, leatherbound print books--etc etc. Nothing ever reaches 100% and many things never reach 90% market share. And, within the greater market there are niche markets that change the numbers. One author may seem unable to gain a tiny percentage of a huge market and fail to sell, while another may gain a big share of a tiny niche and sell plenty (and by sell I mean generate income, including KU or any other future method of monetizing IP).


 

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I think people are missing a trend and opportunity.

Ebook sales are not growing at the rate people hoped.  The pandemic hurts because no one is in transit where they would likely use an ereader. Paperbacks have been the big surprise especially since consider bricks and mortar stores have been closed off and on.

Personally, I have stopped all direct promotions and discounting of my ebooks and focused completely on paperbacks.  I am in the young adult/lit fiction genre and while not super great have seen a larger growth in my paperback.


Mark
 

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Bite the Dusty said:
There's devices that replicate reading a page better than the average tablet or computer screen, but what could replace the experience of holding the physical book and turning the actual page?
I just had a fun idea: an object that looks exactly like a book, with pages you can flip, except each page is like a mini-ereader with e-ink technology. The device would be able to store gigs worth of books, so you'd have all the advantages of an ereader while maintaining the pleasure of the physical object...

OK, now I really want someone to make this LOL.
 

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The big challenge I see with KU is that it's skewed the playing field toward a particular type of writing, which doesn't suit all writers.

Forgive me for putting you on the spot, Mark. But you seem to be a Canadian John Green. John Green has released a handful of standalone literary novels. That doesn't fit the KU algorithm. What fits the KU algorithm is a long series of pulp fiction novels involving spaceships, or sparkling vampires, reverse harems, or academy romance.

Nothing wrong with any of that. But what about the indie writer who wants to be the next Ken Follett, or John Grisham (or John Green)?

I don't see this as a conspiracy, but rather the way the market has developed. Yes, I think KU has been a factor in that. But this isn't a "plot".

Consider Amanda Lee. I admire the heck out of Amanda Lee, the way she writes one cozy witch mystery after another. And she obviously has legions of fans. She deserves every book she sells, every penny she makes. But my interests are very different (as are Mark's, I think).

The question is: How can Mark (or the aspiring indie Ken Follett) adapt the Amanda Lee model? (I call it the Amanda Lee model, because she is such a success in KU.)

I don't see this as a matter of blaming anyone, but figuring how to adapt what are basically 20th century literary ambitions to the 2020s KU model. Amanda Lee has figured it out for herself. The rest of us have to figure it out for ourselves.

markpauloleksiw said:
I think people are missing a trend and opportunity.

Ebook sales are not growing at the rate people hoped. The pandemic hurts because no one is in transit where they would likely use an ereader. Paperbacks have been the big surprise especially since consider bricks and mortar stores have been closed off and on.

Personally, I have stopped all direct promotions and discounting of my ebooks and focused completely on paperbacks. I am in the young adult/lit fiction genre and while not super great have seen a larger growth in my paperback.

Mark
 

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markpauloleksiw said:
I think people are missing a trend and opportunity.

Ebook sales are not growing at the rate people hoped. The pandemic hurts because no one is in transit where they would likely use an ereader. Paperbacks have been the big surprise especially since consider bricks and mortar stores have been closed off and on.

Personally, I have stopped all direct promotions and discounting of my ebooks and focused completely on paperbacks. I am in the young adult/lit fiction genre and while not super great have seen a larger growth in my paperback.

Mark
Perhaps you've had better luck with paperbacks, but I wouldn't ascribe it to the factors you mentioned. EReaders can be used anywhere, including the home. I think the dropoff in eBook sales may be due to the greater economy, as opposed to any more internal factor to publishing.

The greater economy is not good right now. That is shoving a big wrench into the transmission.
 

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I agree with you at some point, and my opinion is:

* Subscription model for books is a trend, like software/movie/music/game industry:
- Software: MS Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.
- Movie: Netflix, Disney+, etc.- Music: Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, etc.
- Game: Apple Arcade, Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, Google's Stadia, etc.

Book is the next gen for subscription as well, you may think in this way:
*  Book is a service, to serve our audiences
From my perspective, book, movie, music, game, they are all kind of a 'content' in differnet formats (so different experience).
 

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Let's pray reading a book is not commoditized and is not seen as just data. The creators/authors get royally taken advantage of in that model.

Certain genres are saturated in ebooks and a lot of authors are trying to replicate successful models of 2014.

People don't like to hear about print books grinding along, but, is is. Why? Because print on demand is coupled with Amazon's distribution abilities makes it efficient and profitable for author and amazon less the middleman. Readers who used to shop at bookstores have for 8 months discovered the online world where they can get their paperback with 3-4 days.

It will be interesting to see how ebook sales go post-pandemic.

Mark

 

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Patrick1980 said:
The big challenge I see with KU is that it's skewed the playing field toward a particular type of writing, which doesn't suit all writers.
I don't think KU has skewed the playing field toward a particular type of writing. I think it was always skewed that way, and KU just makes that skew more obvious. Because some genres have a much larger and/or more rabid readership, so they do better for authors in KU. While others, like literary novels, have a much smaller readership, so those books don't do as well in KU.
 
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