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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kindle Unlimited Limiting Book Sales


The all-you-can-eat approach to ebooks is injuring the book industry in many ways.  Publishers make less money, as do authors.

Let’s see the data.  Revenue in 2013 for ebooks leveled off in 2013 at $3 billion, after increasing nearly 50% in 2012.

In 2010, Kindle had 600,000 offerings.  Today it has three million.  Smashwords, which distributes self-published ebooks, increase the number of titles offered by 20% this past year.  So one pattern is clear – more writers are getting published and more books are becoming available and prices are dropping.  As ebook prices drop, it widens the gap vs. print prices.  The result is people will continue to move away from print or print will have to cut profit margins and drop prices.  Neither scenario is ideal.

Kindle Unlimited is a service that bundles certain ebooks in a monthly all-you-can-read service.  Oyster and Scribd do the same.  They crave to be the book version of Netflix (film/TV) and Spotify (music), Kindle Unlimited offers 700,000 books for $10 a month.

These services, in order to truly help the book industry, need to hike the monthly fee.  Further, it needs to keep a two-tier approach – new or popular books should not be included.  Further, ebooks should come out after print books debut, much like we have a movie go from theater to sale to On-Demand.

Dirt-cheap books screw everyone up.  For instance, how can newspapers and magazines survive when they compete with free digital content like blogs and websites, and ebooks that cost less than their publications?

I don’t see why a publisher or author would want to have its books sold this way.  Sure a publisher may think its backlist, underperforming titles, or unknown authors could find a market in the buffet-style service, but how much money can you make under such a plan?  The more people get used to paying almost nothing for books the less likely they’ll pay for single-book content, even if it’s the next Harry Potter.

I guess the key to all of this is the books that will sell will be the ones that don’t get lost in the all-you-can-eat approach.  Instead, they need to be marketed and promoted heavily and intelligently.  But they’ll need to offer the perception of value in order to get people to pay double digits in a world of free or pennies for one’s life creation.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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