With 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 AuthorEarnings.com 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:
Kindle Unlimited has been the only thing that has tempted me at all into exclusivity, but I haven't yet jumped. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) October 24, 2014
If you do not believe that Apple is serious about iBooks, even with promoting it to iOS built-in and Mac, then go with KU #FutureChat — David Neal (@WalrusWinks) October 24, 2014
@StonehamPress @Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller My first book I did KDP Select for first 90 days only. 1/2 #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) October 24, 2014
@StonehamPress @Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller 41,000+ downloads during freebie days resulted in lots of reviews. #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) October 24, 2014Jane Steen, who is a British writer based in Chicago, mentioned that exclusivity may not be best just for authors' prospects in the marketplace:
I'm uneasy with exclusivity as a long-term strategy. Bad for readers. #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) October 24, 2014
@Porter_Anderson besides, the post-promo bounce was great but sales still fell off a cliff after that. #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) October 24, 2014
I am more concerned by proprietary formats than exclusivity of distributor. Want to be read on all devices #FutureChat — David Neal (@WalrusWinks) October 24, 2014
@janesteen @Porter_Anderson At the moment having first book at 99c seems to be more profitable but jury still out. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) October 24, 2014
#futurechat Kindle's ubiquity seems like it might make it easier for a book to successfully launch with a "Free only on KU" tagline 1/2 — Reedsy (@ReedsyHQ) October 24, 2014
@janesteen @Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller My first book is perma-free on Amazon now but downloads in 100s not thousands! #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) October 24, 2014In Delhi, Yawar Khan said he feels the strength of the Amazon ecosystem isn't enough to make it worth forgoing other sales points:
@WalrusWinks there are many other platforms also, non sense to go only with KU #futurechat @Porter_Anderson — Yawar Khan (@ReadFingers) October 24, 2014New 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:
@ReadFingers @WalrusWinks @Porter_Anderson people get vey used to their Kindle habit. it's so easy but exclusivity feeds that #futurechat — Scott Waxman (@scottwaxman) October 24, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @KindleUnlimited we come across some people who say "why change?" #FutureChat #ninc14 11:17am · 24 Oct 2014 · Hootsuite — Scott Waxman (@scottwaxman) October 24, 2014It'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:
#futurechat Exclusivity on Oyster or Scribd would feel like a larger risk - Kindle users seem primed for KU 2/2 — Reedsy (@ReedsyHQ) October 24, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @ReedsyHQ @KindleUnlimited to compete we have to add new value to the experience #FutureChat — Scott Waxman (@scottwaxman) October 24, 2014
I do too well on other vendors to go exclusive with KU, but I'm considering it for my future children's books. #futurechat — Camille LaGuire (@camillelaguire) October 24, 2014An interesting possibility for a subscription service like KU from Michigan-based author Camille LaGuire:
I do too well on other vendors to go exclusive with KU, but I'm considering it for my future children's books. #futurechat — Camille LaGuire (@camillelaguire) October 24, 2014I asked if LaGuire had found a strong presence of parents on KU looking for children's books.
@Porter_Anderson @thebookseller No, except when I mention that I want to offer kidbooks free, parents tell me they have KU. #futurechat — Camille LaGuire (@camillelaguire) October 24, 2014The general tone of the group seemed to be running against the exclusivity element:
agree with @janesteen excl. bad for readers. as a writer I'd want my readers to have the freedom to choose #futurechat — Antje Papenburg (@IndieEditress) October 24, 2014
I love what @hughhowey says about creating a culture that brings readers and writers together. #Wattpad does this well. #ninc14 #futurechat — Meredith Rose (@WildwoodGoddess) October 24, 2014And 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:
@Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller Lots of self publishers go with KDP Select out of laziness as much as anything. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) October 24, 2014
@StonehamPress Or simple lack of time to do everything and write, too. @Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller #futurechat — Carol Buchanan (@CarolBuchananMT) October 24, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @CarolBuchananMT @StonehamPress Not to mention conflicting terms of service... #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) October 24, 2014
@Porter_Anderson I do believe new options will arise - just like amazon - if there's a need, someone will fill it. #futurechat — Camille LaGuire (@camillelaguire) October 24, 2014And however tedious some of the detail work may be, these #FutureChat-ers seemed to agree, they weren't interested in seeking traditional alternatives.
@ReedsyHQ @Porter_Anderson I like making the decisions too much - trad pub would feel like a straitjacket. #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) October 24, 2014
as a #selfpub writer u have 2 define what #indie means to u and how much independence u are prepared 2 sacrifice #futureChat @thebookseller — Antje Papenburg (@IndieEditress) October 24, 2014
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