I can already hear the paperbacks-only crowd crowing in triumph, “AHA! See? I told you ebooks were evil!” But like them or not, the cold truth is, ebooks are an indie author’s biggest source of income. Amazon’s latest experiment via Kindle Unlimited is going to pay authors according to pages read rather than by books sold.
Some authors are going to panic when they hear about this one, I’m sure, because humans have a natural tendency to fear change. I’m approaching it with a sort of curious apprehension. As Kristen Lamb points out in this post, this could be the big playing field leveler we have been waiting for. Equal pay for equal work, so to speak. A 180,000 word epic fantasy would no longer earn the same as a 10k novelette, which is the case under the current payment system. A riveting page-turner by an unknown author might finally get the credit it deserves. Meanwhile, the illegible heaps of beetle dung that tend to permeate the ever-growing selection on Amazon’s bookshelf would be more effectively sorted under the new system.
Am I for it? That remains to be seen. If used strictly in the Kindle Unlimited program and Prime lending library, it makes sense. If it were to migrate over into the area of mainstream sales, then I’d feel nervous.
We live in a really strange time and technology has altered the publishing landscape into something we could never have imagined in 1999. The changes have been nothing short of science fiction. Well, buckle your seat belts because it is about to happen again. Just about the time we kind of get the knack of things, it seems there is yet another upheaval and we have to adapt.
This is why I wrote my social media branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. My methods keep us from having to tear down and start over every time something in the tech world goes topsy-turvy and we can maintain brand momentum no matter what. But this time it isn’t social media throwing the curve ball.
It is Amazon.
I’ve worked hard to be balanced in all my opinions…
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