Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It For Authors And Their Ebooks?

4.3/5 (46)

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.

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it for authors?

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. Avid readers have unlimited access to so many books per month, so of course, they save money on reading the titles available to them.

A great deal for readers, but what about a published author?

For an ebook that retails at say, $3.99, the return to an indie 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 service 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, way of reading ebooks.

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.

13 thoughts on “Is Kindle Unlimited Worth It For Authors And Their Ebooks?

  • I once was exclusive with a Publisher. The Publisher decided to list all titles available on KU. This 6 month test reduced royalties by 56% from previous 6 months. They decided to exit program. Now I self publish almost exclusively. New work and rights regained work. Regained work exclusively published on KU and 2 year old work KU listed. It’s not because I’m greedy that I offer new work for $3.99 it’s just economics. On my last published work 5/1 book 4 in series it cost me $900 to publish and if it were KU after tax adjustment I would need 1206.5 KU full reads before I made a penny. I need the revenue from each new book to pay production costs on on the next one. With Amazon paying like they do the quickest I can publish is once every 4 months without going out of pocket. At $3.99 on Amazon I have to sell 703 ebooks before I make a penny above production and tax expenses…..and I have to do that within 60 days to pay for the next one. So for me, it’s not an option to be exclusive KU. Maybe as I grow my readership it would make sense…and I would love to be rewarded with bonus KU royalty incentives but right now I have to write and publish. Best Wishes

  • 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.

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


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