Five Problems with Kindle Unlimited

I dislike five features of KU. 


The worst feature, above all: KU is exclusive, even though it isn't even available globally.

The advantage to Amazon is obvious. They keep readers in their own pool, chained off from rival sources of books. 

But what is the advantage to writers? The writer surrenders power to the big shark for the right to swim in the same pool as the captive readers. And some writers find this lucrative, I don't deny it. Since for most writers making money is important, I sympathize, but to me this is only one step away from selling your rights to a big publisher. You sacrifice long term gain for short term gain--which is short-sighted.

Also, I hate how unfair it is to readers who can't even read your books.

I would have to literally deny books to some of my international fans--how sad. I've had fans of The Unfinished Song write to me from all over the world. It means so much to me to know that anyone can access my books. 


Two, Amazon decides how much to pay the authors each month arbitrarily.


Think about how crazy this is.

Amazon makes selling your books into buying tickets in a lottery. They announce a "pot" each month and then divide up the pot between all the authors. (Now you might think, "well, at least it's fair"; no, see point 4.)

I guess I get the logic of this from the point of view of Amazon maximizing their own profits. What is the advantage to the writers? I don't know, maybe it's addictive, like gambling is, to hang on the mystery of how much you're going make every month.

No thanks.


Three, the amount Amazon pays isn't even consistent, making it difficult to calculate in advance. This is related to the issue above issue of the amount Amazon pays out being arbitrary. In theory, the amount could be arbitrary but consistent (like the royalty rate), but it's not. 

I have a hard enough time calculating things like ROI and sell-through rates without having to deal with this headache.

And again, sorry for being raging idealist, but the principle of the thing bugs me too. 

So I dislike this feature of KU for both pragmatic and idealistic reasons.


Amazon doesn't pay authors the same the same percentage--the top sellers get paid a higher percentage over and above the fact they have the highest sales already. 

KU sounds like kindergarten, where the teacher takes all the toys and divides them evenly amongst the kids. Except not really. The pigs are more equal.

I have no problem with competition in the free market. I get that an author who is willing and able to write 20 books a month in a hot genre I hate (looking at you, rh) will outsell me, because that author can deliver something to hungry readers that I can't or won't.

That's fair.

But KU deciding to rain more money on their top players, like Big Publishers treat their top players differently than their midlist authors? Sorry for the Robin Hood 'tude, but that sticks in my craw.


Five, KU forces readers to return you books before they can read new ones, instead of treasuring them as books to return to over and over. 

As a READER, I hate that. I like to own my books, not borrow them. I think readers have a different relationship, a deeper one, with books they buy and own and re-read. 

I understand that it works well for some readers and some writers, just like some writers are fine getting an advance and a measly 10% royalty on their books (and KU is still better than that) but it's not my cup of tea.


Amazon sets the rules because it can. The Robber Barons were like that. I do not use KU ... at least I do not think so. I may have used them in the beginning, but after 40 odd books, it gets hard to remember.

Like you, I want readers to get their own copies to re-read or re-listen to. I sent you 2 audiobooks onw about my fictional studio head and another for the sociopathic prop master who works for him. I hope you enjoy them, Roland