Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It For Your Kindle Ebooks?

4.26/5 (43)

Goodbye Kindle Unlimited – Thanks, But You Robbed Me

Kindle Unlimited was worth a try, but after 12 months, no thank you.

As with all new ideas, it takes some time to decide if it works or not. But after trying it, here is my Kindle Unlimited review from an author’s perspective.

In the case of Kindle Unlimited (KU) and KENPC page reads, I have to say that I was, to invent a word, quite underwhelmed after twelve months.

The basic problem I had with KU was that it grossly undervalued the price of an ebook. Readers have unlimited access to so many ebooks, so of course, they save money on reading the titles available to them.

A great deal for readers, but what about authors?

For an ebook that retails at say, $3.99, the return to an author for a full read on KENPC is around $1.35. Also, keep in mind that this return can vary each month depending on how much money Amazon allocates to the pool for KU.

That’s a big discount! On top of that, KU readers can pick and choose at a whim, and skim.

So many page reads I gained were for only a few pages of a Kindle book, which could easily have been read in the freely available preview read or with Prime reading.

Quite honestly, can you give back a hamburger after two bites and only pay for what you ate? No way.

From my experience, having my books included in KU was not far removed from offering free ebooks.

Amazon has around a million ebooks available for a very cheap Kindle Unlimited subscription of $9.99 per month, which is close to free access to as many ebooks as one can try.

A few pages here, a few pages there, until a reader finds a book they like.

As an author, I have to say no to this pick and choose, because I can, technique.

A reader has plenty of opportunities to assess an ebook before purchase through reviews and preview reads.

Buying an ebook should not be a ‘try before you buy‘ or ‘take one bite‘ experience.

I’m sorry, but if a reader wants to read one of my ebooks, paying for it on the Amazon Kindle Store is the customary way to reward my efforts.

So with this said, you will understand why I exited KDP Select and Amazon exclusivity, and returned all my ebooks to open publishing.

If Amazon gave me the choice to easily opt out of Kindle Unlimited but stay in KDP Select, I might have taken a different approach, but clearly, Amazon wants cheap KU ebooks for any reader who wants more than a book a month.

Sure, I know that I can contact Amazon and jump through a few hoops and have my ebooks removed from KU, but quite honestly, I can’t be bothered.

I wanted out of exclusivity that keeps changing the rules and varying my royalty rate each month.

Kindle Unlimited is great for a voracious reader who likes to read on the cheap, but for an author, it’s not such a great deal.

So it was goodbye to KDP Select for me and back to open publishing on all available retailers.

It took a couple of months to get all my ebooks out of Amazon exclusivity, but I was heartened by the fact real ebook sales from Amazon continued.

For my ebooks that I returned to being available through Draft2Digital on Apple B&N, Kobo and others, I started to see some sales again after a slow restart.

Thank you Kindle Unlimited, it was nice knowing you, but you were definitely not my cup of tea.


Further reading: Kindle Unlimited Has A Problem – It Can’t Count 


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

12 thoughts on “Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It For Your Kindle Ebooks?

  • I agree 100%. I sold hundreds of a 100 page book on plotting and received (maybe) enough money for a Big Mac meal. I don’t understand the hoopla writers have about KU. As soon as my 90 day term expired, I exited, raised the price and have been selling 10 a month. I’d rather have the money than readers who chase the next best free thing.
    Thanks for posting!

  • Perhaps if your book was any good, people would read it. Just saying.

  • I know several other authors who have decided to ditch amazon exclusivity. If this becomes a trend, it will be interesting to see if amazon chooses to woo back departed authors.

  • I’m very happy with amazon’s KU. I’m just happy about being able to publish my work all together. This is my success and amazon helped me with achieving my goal.
    I have a lot to be thankful for. All I wanted was to be an author and this dream was finally realized a few years ago. Since then I haven’t looked back. I will be writing some more stories soon to publish them. It doesn’t take much for me to be happy.
    I guess others have different goals in life. At first I wondered if being an author was going to make me wealthy, but I don’t think like that anymore. When I see a sale here and there it makes me happy that at least someone is reading my work.
    Like everything else I get sales sometimes and sometimes I don’t, but no one can predict a sale from anywhere. When it does it will and if it doesn’t one day it will.

  • I have also exited Amazon entirely for these same reasons. But the decline of ebooks goes back further to ‘free’. I know of no other product that that takes a year to produce which is then given away for free in the hope that the receiver will pay for something else. It’s retail madness at its best. And its not about the books, its about having free fodder for their Kindle sales. Writers have been thoroughly duped by Amazon – and hugely unfairly treated. I sell quite happily on B&N and Apple – and there’s no fuss. I’d rather that than go through the humiliating and restrictive rules and regulations of this ghastly monolith called Amazon. But good luck to those writers who are happy with it – or hanging in desperately waiting for the winds to change.

  • For longer works, the economics of KU are not that much different than ebooks on Amazon. I have a 450-page printed work that converts to 668 Kindle equivalent pages on KU, and at half-a-penny per page, the difference between selling a $4.99 ebook and having 668 pages read on KU is less than a dime. I’m happy with both distribution methods, but I can see how the inequity impacts shorter works.

  • Thanks for your insight on this, Derek. I’m bailing out of KDPS after a year and a half and will begin branching out to open publishing in time for my second book. Your discussion helped me with the decision to do so.

  • But a reader can do this without KU, by checking out a few pages on the preview then not buying it and you get 00.00$ ( you can do this at B&N site as well as Amazon, and I’m sure many others) It’s also the same in a bookstore. People can pick it up, read a few pages before deciding to buy or not. There’s very few times a reader will want to buy the book without at least seeing if it’s written well or something they think they might enjoy. A short summary isn’t always enough. This sounds like an issue with the way books are sold in general (to you) not KU, IMO.

  • For me, though I am just starting out, it is worth it, yet. but time will tell I think…. ;)

  • You are a writer so I put over a table a couple of things to think about:
    – have auto-critic.
    – are you like Prince or George Michael fighting against platforms?
    – a teenage will think that he can create a musical band and he will be freddy mercury and HE WILL BE that sort of god for so many people. Now… what the teenager doesn’t know is that the owners of the audiences, distribution channels aka scenarios, stadium contracts, and the owners of the “know how” to handle those contracts and put amazing girls in your videos, handle MTV and many other things… is not Freddy or George michael, but Sony, Warner, etc. They have the knowledge, they have the territory and they defend it, they fight anybody else trying to take the pie from them.
    – Freddy is just a component, of course the artistic ego will make you believe you are the center of the universe, not knowing about the software technology needed to run amazon, not understanding that you need to pay 100k dollars per year to each software developer or it goes to Microsoft, Google, IBM, etc. And you don’t know about marketing, distribution channels and a billion things.
    – Freddy kept the love of his fans.
    – At the same time, you are not as exclusive as you think, there are thousands of writers in worst economies waiting for a penny to eat.
    – that is what you are.
    – Now… before subscriptions, writers could cash the “value of pages sold never read”, which generated a HUGE problem for the user which is having 10 books and reading 1. Of course you were very happy, more happy than anybody because that meant that 9 out of 10 of your sales were made by consumerism and people that bought into your marketing and wanted to read but actually the “human reading capacity” was not there. There wasn’t an actual person with free time and willingness to actually read your book. That “detail” did not existed.
    – Amazon is the most customer centric company of the world, it’s their slogan, and now they handle the billion complexities behind this world to make things better to his audience and protect their customers giving them a change of paying for the material that actually transforms their own lives for better.
    – Some people don’t like it. Well… when Uber appeared many taxi drivers got angry, but the industry was more democratic where anybody can drive even if they make less money than a taxi driver before.

    I’m adding my two cents with the only purpose of making people think :)

  • Wow, that was mean spirited. KDPS isn’t for everyone, with good reason.

  • Thank you for this article. It was very helpful. I’ve recently gone wide with the two books I’ve independently published. Once you realize that Amazon (KDP) considers authors suppliers, not customers, you have a better understanding of why they do what they do. The customer is king at Amazon, the supplier, not so much. Also, I find D2D much more user friendly and customer focused. At D2D the author is the customer. Amazon (KDP) needs some competition and D2D and other book distributors are giving it to them. That being said, every author must make their own decision.


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