Is Enrolling in KDP Select the best choice? While it ties your book down to Amazon and away from any other publisher, it does give you benefits such as access to programs like Kindle Unlimited. This is Kindle’s digital version of a library because it allows subscribers to borrow books at a monthly rate rather than buy them separately, but now there’s a major question that authors must be asking themselves: is Kindle Unlimited really worth it? How much are authors making from this program, and is it really the big deal that Amazon made it out to be? In brief, yes and no, but there’s more to it than that.
As of March 2015, every book rental is netting authors $1.33. If you compare it to the $2 you would have made from a sale if your book is priced at $2.99, then it doesn’t seem too bad. On one hand there is an obvious decrease in per sale/read profit, but there’s also the potential for more money is more people borrow the book. Not only that, but you have to understand that you get paid as long as the borrower reads at least 10% of the book.
At the same time, this is the lowest per borrow rate since the inception of Kindle Unlimited, and the number is abysmal when compared to the previous program: Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). When Unlimited first started in July 2014, authors were making about $1.81 per borrow. It then dropped to about $1.50 per borrow for the next two months, and then an average of $1.40 per borrow for every month except October and March (which both tied at $1.33).
Things start to look even worse when you look at the per borrow rate before Unlimited, when there was just KOLL. This is a program that allowed Prime members to borrow one book per month. The lowest rate at this point was $1.86 per borrow during December 2013, which is higher than the highest point of Kindle Unlimited. It reached a high of $2.51 per borrow in October 2013, but the number was consistently over the $2 mark until Unlimited was rolled out.
While everything might seem like doom and gloom if you look at the numbers, you have to understand why it’s so much lower than before. In truth, Amazon is investing nearly 3x the amount of money that it did during the early days, and it’s expected to triple its investment again in the coming months to keep up with the growth and demand of Unlimited.
During the early days of KOLL, Amazon only invested about $1 million into the pool, but the payouts were higher due to fewer books and fewer overall borrows, which allowed participating authors to really reap the rewards. It then increased to $1.2 million during the second half of KOLL’s lifespan, and then grew to $3 million after Unlimited was released.
While it may not seem like it right now, this lower per borrow rate is actually a good thing because it means that more people are borrowing books, but Amazon is having a hard time properly funding it. There have already been talks about getting more money to authors, but currently they are having a hard time scaling author rates with the growth of the program.
Getting the Most
Even though Unlimited has been around for a little over half a year, it’s far too early to say if it’s here to stay. However, there are some definite tips that you can use to get the most profit from this program, especially since every KDP Select book is automatically entered anyway.
Serial writers are typically making the most because each book segues into the next. It’s much easier to convince readers to pick up the next novel when they don’t have to pay for each book. Unlimited allows them to borrow the next book when they are finished, which means more money for you. Creating a quality product is obviously the best thing you can do, but keeping them coming with a series is the best way to keep readers happy.
Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? For some yes, but for some no. The per borrow rates are at their lowest, but that could all turn around in a few months. At the same time, authors who are getting more borrows than buys might see a dip in their profits.
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