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I see that Kindle Unlimited now allows readers to freely download linked audiobooks. Does anyone know how Amazon plans to monetize Audiobook listens that don’t have correlating KENP reads?

A few weeks ago, one of my better performing audiobooks suddenly rose to new sales ranking heights and has stayed there. Now I see that it is free to download in Kindle Unlimited. However, neither my KENP numbers nor my daily audiobook downloads have increased.

Anyone know how Amazon will calculate KU audiobook royalties?
 

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This seems wrong, even for Amazonanigans. Yes, I think I was the first to coin that word.

If it's for KU, and you get 0, that's just one more reason to get out of KU.

David Gaughran, if it really works that way, howsabout a blog post on it?

 

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I wondered about this when I borrowed a book in KU and saw it had the audiobook for free. I think it's something new or I just never noticed it before and it doesn't seem to be all KU titles with audiobooks. It's not right if they aren't paying the author and I hope it doesn't continue if the author isn't getting anything for it.
 

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This is worrisome. I always thought it was just Amazon press books that had the free read & listen feature. I see a lot of Montlake and Skyscape books with KU/ free listens but I always assumed the author was compensated somehow.
 

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OP did you ever figure out how they compensate for this? Two of my books in KU with associated audiobooks have recently been listed as "read and listen free". I emailed ACX and they said they don't see that on their side and that it must be a whispersync thing I'm seeing. ??? So I just sent them screenshots. Waiting to hear back, but how is it possible that they can give away my audiobooks without my permission and without compensation?

Curious if you ever got an answer.
 

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Anyone get any answers on this? We just noticed our audiobook is free to listen to on KU, but the audiobook was created by Tantor... so not sure where royalties are going, and how they are being calculated. My only guess is that they use whisper sync to calculate pages read... but I don't know who they are paying for those pages read, us or Tantor.

I'm looking all over, but can't find any answers. Anyone else?
 
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I've wondered about this for quite a long time. The program seems really hard to find any information on, even from the reader's side. (I was originally looking for a reader friend and couldn't find any easy way to tell what or how many books were available this way, for instance.)
 

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I noticed my audio book was being given away in Kindle Unlimited without notification to me on July 19. I don't know how long it has been offered as free.

So I wrote immediately to both ACX and KDP advising them that they did not have my permission to bundle my audiobook, which cost me $3,500 to produce, as free in Kindle Unlimited. I asked them to advise how many downloads had occurred and how they intended to compensate me. I also stated that I considered this a serious breach of my copyright and that I wanted an urgent response.

This is what I received the next day.

Dear Susan,

I've retrieved both of your emails and will reply here.

We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. I've escalated this issue to our rights team as your ACX created content should not be part of Kindle Unlimited.

I apologize for the inconvenience and have passed your notes along to the team as well.

I thank you in advance for your patience while this is addressed.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can assist you with.

Have a great weekend.

Warm regards,

ACX Client Support


I underlined "ACX created content should not be part of Kindle Unlimited," so we are all clear that this is a breach.

Funnily enough I joined KU a few months ago because I noticed you could enjoy audiobooks on some of the titles and I thought that was a great deal. However, I didn't for a second think that the author was not being compensated. If it turns out all authors are not being compensated for use of their audiobooks, then I'll cancel my membership and tell them why. Also a lot of my loyal readers will do the same they've assured me.

What I find bizarre is that my email to KDP was picked up by ACX as a dual response as per this email. So the theft of my intellectual property is being investigated by the same people who are also managing the department who stole it.

It's now ten days since I wrote to them and still my audiobook is being offered free with no notification to me. This is intellectual property theft. The rights to my audible are not bound to the rights of my eBook. I did not give permission by enrolling in Select for them to do a grab for my audiobook at no extra cost or without notification.

This comes hot on the heels of Amazon announcing their huge profits. I find this extraordinary behavior and I will continue to pursue this to the end and let you know.

I've scoured through every rule and sub-section on ACX and Select and nowhere does it refer to this bundling. Therefore this is absolute outright intellectual property theft. Write and demand you be compensated and ask for reports on the number of downloads.

When two of my books were placed in Prime Reads I was compensated pretty well in the four figure mark, well above several thousand. This is the same deal. If they include your audiobook in KU as a bonus to entice people to join or stay in KU (as it did with me), then you should be compensated.

The more authors who complain, the quicker we will get this sorted out. Oh, and do check your audiobooks to see if they have grabbed them. They only took one of mine and only in the USA. If this has happened to you, I suggest you don't take it lying down.
 

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If KU is willing to rip off authors their page reads via Page Flip ("I am sorry to inform that the pages viewed in Page Flip mode do not count toward pages read... we will continue to monitor it closely...), why wouldn't they also rip off authors' audio books?
 

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T. M. Bilderback said:
Susan, you need to get some attention drawn to this by the press. You also need to forward your information to David Gaughran. He's a member here, and can get some action on things like this.
I will forward to David if I don't get anywhere by the end of this week and try and get some media on this, especially with the news of the huge profits they are making while stealing from indie authors. The longer it is up there though the more serious the breach and the more they'll be paying me. If you sent a take down notice to most online outlets for breach of copyright, you'd expect it to happen within 48 hours. That's reasonable, I guess, but coming up now to two weeks is outrageous and shows their attitude more than anything. The longer this goes, the better this story will be against them. They have no excuse whatsoever.

loraininflorida said:
If KU is willing to rip off authors their page reads via Page Flip ("I am sorry to inform that the pages viewed in Page Flip mode do not count toward pages read... we will continue to monitor it closely...), why wouldn't they also rip off authors' audio books?
Absolutely. They are growing bolder as each month goes by. Earlier this month they re-enrolled an anthology, I managed, into Kindle Unlimited without notice or permission. That book had been unpublished two years prior. It took them a week to get it down again and caused a few problems among the authors involved. Some of the authors already published their included short story in Kindle Unlimited, so it put them in breach of Select terms.

Anything seems to go with Amazon lately. I'm making my plans to go wide, having never ever considered it before. I've had enough.
 

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I just heard from a fan who signed up for KU because she noticed she could both listen and read my book for 'free'. This was news to me as I independently produce my audiobook and then upload the finished product to ACX. I am the producer and copyright owner and have never given my permission for KU to give my audiobook away for free. Thank you Susan for the information. I sent to acx entrepreneur and will let you know what I hear.
 

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jmb3 said:
I just heard from a fan who signed up for KU because she noticed she could both listen and read my book for 'free'. This was news to me as I independently produce my audiobook and then upload the finished product to ACX. I am the producer and copyright owner and have never given my permission for KU to give my audiobook away for free. Thank you Susan for the information. I sent to acx entrepreneur and will let you know what I hear.
You are welcome. In case anyone else wants to send them an email, I simply sent to ACX via this email: [email protected] With KDP, I sent via their contact button. The customer service rep (and I say customer service loosely now we are into day 10) responded on behalf of KDP and ACX. How convenient.

However, I would still send the same email to both, just so you have a record that you contacted the distributor and the entity breaching your copyright. If you use a different distributor obviously write to them instead of ACX.

I'll be interested to know whether it is only ACX distributed titles that they've gotten their sticky fingers on.

Also, here's the email I sent, in case you want to use it to save time.

It's come to my attention that Amazon is offering my audio book linked to (book name and assign here) as free with Kindle Unlimited.

You do not have my permission to offer my audible book as a bundle in this manner. This audio version cost me $4000 to produce.

I would like you to advise how many downloads have occurred of this audio book and how you will be compensating me for them.

I have searched through your help information and at ACX and I cannot find any information that refers to audiobooks bundled as free with Kindle Unlimited

I find this a very serious breach of my copyright. I would like an urgent response to this.

Thank you.


Do not let Amazon get away with stealing your intellectual property for their gain.
 

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Hi,

It's been two weeks since I wrote to ACX and KDP about them giving away my audiobook free to Kindle Unlimited readers without my permission.

I received an email back 11 days after I first wrote and was told it was being investigated. This is the reply. A little confusing since I gave them details, names, ASINs, etc and was very clear. These two emails here have come from a Customer Relations Specialist and someone with an English sounding name, I presume higher up and in the US.

Hello Susan,

My name is xxxx with KDP Customer Relations. I've been made aware of your concerns regarding your audio book being available in Kindle Unlimited and would like to further investigate. At your earliest convenience, please reply to this email with where/how exactly you've been made aware of this. For example, if you see/saw this on Amazon, do you perhaps have a screenshot?


I mean, it can't be that difficult to look at the page and see in bold Read and Listen for Free.

Of course I replied immediately giving them everything they needed and 3 days later, and a full two weeks since I first emailed, this is where we're at.

Hello Susan,

I just wanted to follow-up with you to let you know that your concerns regarding your audio-book being available for free through KU is still being investigated and I've connected with the relevant teams for assistance. As soon as I have any further update, I'll notify you immediately.


I don't know what to make of this. How can it take that long to check whether they have some kind of agreement with me to give away my book? I'll be intrigued with what they come up with. I've told them while their checking to please make sure they work out how much they intend to pay me. I've given them a ballpark figure based on what I received for my books in Prime.

The longer its up there, the more they'll owe. I did check too if I downloaded it in KU, if I would be paid anything. Since I didn't sell any of that audible in July after I discovered this, I can say for sure you do not receive compensation when they arbitrarily steal your audiobook. Will report back when I hear something more.

If anyone else who has contacted them has had any reasonable replies, I'd love to know.
 

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...

Audible books are advertised as being "listen for free" all the time. All it means is, sign up for an Audible subscription, and you can download the book for 'free', because the first x months of an audible subscription are free. You should be compensated the same way you're compensated now for when someone downloads the audiobook for the monthly credit they receive as a subscriber: the cost of that monthly subscription. It is certainly an open question as to whether, if someone downloads the book for 'free' as part of their first three months of audible subscribing, but it's not like y'all's books are getting downloaded for free willy-nilly.

Audible has always advertised themselves in this way. It's really "Free with a new subscription", but of course that isn't as eye-catching.
 

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Cassie Leigh said:
Did you try listening to the audiobook?
Yes, I did listen to a few pages but no ACX payment.

And Gene you haven't read through the thread carefully. We're not talking about FREE with an Audible trial. Those ones are paid as a ACX download of around $4. This is a select number of audiobooks are offered free to Kindle Unlimited members. Nothing to do with Audible. Although if you download the book in KU you can download the audio in Audible app. It seems to work the same idea as Prime Reads with a few thousand curated Audios bundled with KU.

If you go to a book's page that has it, it will say Read and Listen for free in Kindle Unlimited.

They are not asking permission. They are not compensating authors. And ACX has confirmed in writing that the audiobooks should not be offered as free in Kindke Unlimited. I advise everyone to check their ebooks to see if they have the Read & Listen for free button. You won't know if you don't check.
 

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SusanMayWriter said:
Yes, I did listen to a few pages but no ACX payment.

And Gene you haven't read through the thread carefully. We're not talking about FREE with an Audible trial. Those ones are paid as a ACX download of around $4. This is a select number of audiobooks are offered free to Kindle Unlimited members. Nothing to do with Audible. Although if you download the book in KU you can download the audio in Audible app. It seems to work the same idea as Prime Reads with a few thousand curated Audios bundled with KU.

If you go to a book's page that has it, it will say Read and Listen for free in Kindle Unlimited.

They are not asking permission. They are not compensating authors. And ACX has confirmed in writing that the audiobooks should not be offered as free in Kindke Unlimited. I advise everyone to check their ebooks to see if they have the Read & Listen for free button. You won't know if you don't check.
OK. So what you're talking about is what's described here?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201553890
 

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Yes, that's what I'm talking about.

I even signed up to KU after years not thinking it was worth it, as I read a bit slowly, because of the audiobooks in the program. I never for a second thought the authors weren't being compensated. I did think the majority of the books were Amazon Imprints so figured they had some kind of deal. Then I noticed a few bigger indie authors, then this thread a few months ago. Then it happened to me.  Really outrageous. There is nowhere in our KDP terms that says they can do this. No reference. None on ACX.

So this is intellectual property theft, plain and simple.
 

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Thanks for updates on your communication with Amazon / ACX. I am especially concerned on our case, because the audiobook was created by Tantor... not through ACX. I will be reaching out to them soon as well, because I have no idea if / where royalties are being paid (to us through KENP via whisper sync, or to Tantor via downloads).

I'll post back when I have more information.
 
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