Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kindle Unlimited: maybe not so good for authors—or readers

The overall trend in content distribution nowadays is for content hosts and distributors (Apple, Amazon, Google, etc.) to attempt to commoditize the output of content producers (writers, musicians, etc.)

This obviously harms content producers, and benefits the large corporations that make money from content distribution.

But contrary to what you might think, it doesn't really benefit consumers.

Lets take the example of Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited, the “Netflix of Kindle books” encourages authors to flood the market with short, often hastily produced works. The result has been a deluge of self-published books—some good, some not so good.

For many self-published authors, the emphasis is now on volume rather than quality. On the Kindle Boards, authors are now encouraging each other to produce more! more! Many authors currently try to publish once per month.

This is an attempt to game the system, and to market by flooding the market.

The result has been a major change in the rules over at Amazon:

“Amazon says that the change comes in response to some complaints from authors of longer books, who felt short-shrifted under the old system. As the company says in its announcement, authors consistently said "that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree."  
Instead of simply paying more royalties for longer books, however, Amazon tried something very different. A representative tells The Atlantic that "We think this is a solid step forward," adding, "our goal, as always, is to build a service that rewards authors for their valuable work, attracts more readers, and encourages them to read more and more often."

No—I’m not against self-publishing. However, self-published authors need to find ways to market themselves that don’t rely on simply giving away (or practically giving away) tons of hastily produced, short books.

The “flood the market” strategy doesn't benefit readers—nor authors for that matter, who will see their work further commoditized over the long run.

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