Not exclusively about exclusivity: Kindle Unlimited

Not exclusively about exclusivity: Kindle Unlimited

Top of story conference headerWith subscriptions at the center of last Friday's #FutureChat -- and Amazon's Kindle Unlimited (KU) in particular -- it's worth noting how pleased we are that both Justo Hidalgo of Spain's 24Symbols and (tentatively) Eric Briys of France's Cyberlibris will join us on 14th November in London for The FutureBook (#FutureBook14), Europe's largest publishing conference, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster. Both Hidalgo and Briys have written for us at The FutureBook this year, and both in reaction to news of the KU programme. Here is Hidalgo's Publishers must make a decision over subscription services, and here are Briys' KU or KO? On streaming, subscription and big data, Parts One and Two. Please join us for a full day's programme of stimulating, thought-leading commentary. Hurry to book seats while they last.

Per our walkup article to last Friday's #FutureChat -- Is Amazon KU exclusivity a velvet barrier for authors? -- our emphasis was on the requirement by Seattle that participating self-published authors consent to KDP Select's exclusivity requirement.

As I said in a weekend address to the 25th anniversary conference of Novelists Inc. (NINC), our weekly online chat with The FutureBook community was informed by author Hugh Howey's assertion that a writer ceding his or her right to multiple sales points in order to be in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited programme “may be giving up 30% of their potential earnings in order to reap 13% more from a single outlet.”

Howey's latest commentary on his experience in testing the KU system, he says, now tends to make him feel it's not something he'll want to continue -- a change from his earlier, more supportive stance and, obviously, not what Amazon might have wanted to hear from one of its favorite-son authors. Howey's own presentation at #ninc14 on 24th October is reflected, in part, in his new posting at his site, Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong, and in Live-Blogging from NINC, in which he goes over some of the stand-out points touched on during the pre-conference First Word day (23rd October) of four 90-minute 10-person panels on various elements of the industry and digital dynamic.

Ironically, I conducted our #FutureChat about Amazon's KU exclusivity in the NINC plenary session room as a group of Amazon representatives were ably presenting the various author-facing programs the company offers, including KU. There were, in fact, direct questions from the NINC floor at times about the exclusivity element of KU. And I can't think it would be inaccurate to say that while many member-authors find Kindle Unlimited an interesting proposition, none would be sorry to see the exclusivity factor for self-publishers pulled out of it. No one rose to her or his feet to wax eloquent about the joys of enforced exclusivity. Those listening carefully could tell that some of the company's most famous outlier successes may even consider it a potential deal-breaker when it comes to being in or out of KU.

Our chat started with Tim Lewis of London's Stoneham Press saying that it's the exclusivity factor that so far has helped keep him on the fence:

Jane Steen, who is a British writer based in Chicago, mentioned that exclusivity may not be best just for authors' prospects in the marketplace: In Delhi, Yawar Khan said he feels the strength of the Amazon ecosystem isn't enough to make it worth forgoing other sales points: New York's Scott Waxman of Diversion Books and Waxman Leavell Literary, however, noted the deep penetration that Amazon has achieved and what might be exclusivity's' role in sustaining it: It's frequently Dave McLeod driving the @ReedsyHQ handle, although he and his associates don't say on their Twitter bio who is driving their handle at any given time, so we're not always sure who we're talking with behind the start-up's corporate facade: An interesting possibility for a subscription service like KU from Michigan-based author Camille LaGuire: I asked if LaGuire had found a strong presence of parents on KU looking for children's books. The general tone of the group seemed to be running against the exclusivity element: And there were some observations about how many authors may accept KU's exclusivity requirements just because working with Amazon and KDP Select are the easiest options: And however tedious some of the detail work may be, these #FutureChat-ers seemed to agree, they weren't interested in seeking traditional alternatives.
And more issues are ahead for #FutureChats on Fridays. Join us weekly at 4 p.m. London time; 11 a.m. New York time; 8 a.m. Los Angeles; 5 p.m. Berlin; 3 p.m. GMT. Everyone is welcome to join in. Main image - Shutterstock: Elena Larina