Kindle Unlimited

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If you’ve been publishing your books on Amazon Kindle, then no doubt you have heard about the new Kindle Unlimited Program.

What is Kindle Unlimited?

It’s a new service offered to their customers, allowing members to download unlimited numbers of Kindle books and audiobooks, for a monthly subscription of $9.99 (at the time of writing).  Currently this is only available to US customers.

From what I understand, only Kindle books enrolled in KDP Select are available to Kindle Unlimited customers.  That is, only those Kindle books that are exclusive to Amazon (currently around 600,000 titles).  As Kindle publishers, we have a choice when uploading our books.  We can enroll them in KDP Select, for 90 day periods, during which time you are not allowed to have your book available anywhere else in digital form.  In exchange, your book becomes available to Kindle Unlimited readers, Kindle lending library, and of course, Amazon’s promotional emails.

What does this all mean to Kindle Publishers?

When someone downloads your book via the Kindle Lending Library, you get a royalty, which is a percentage of the global fund that Amazon makes available every month.

When someone downloads your book via the Kindle Unlimited program, you DO NOT automatically make a royalty.  To get the royalty, that download must read past the first 10% of the book.  Once they go past the 10% mark, you then get the royalty added to your reports.

However, there seems to have been a bit of a miscommunication/reporting issue on Amazon in July, and to make up for it, Amazon look like they are paying out for all Kindle Unlimited downloads, even those that were not read past 10%.  This will be fixed in August and only those downloads that were read past 10% will be paid.

The reports I just looked at for July have the Kindle unlimited and Lending library royalties rolled into a single figure, and each download/borrow is currently making $1.80 commission (for July, but this can change every month).  That’s not bad if you are selling you books for $0.99, since you’d only get around 30 cents per purchase.  As your book get’s more expensive, the download fee is less impressive, but, remember that a lot of downloaders would never have bought your book in the first place, so I see the download fee as additional income, not a direct replacement for a sales royalty.

What can you do to increase reading past 10%?

Well, for my own non-fiction, much of the first 10% is taken up with a table of contents, disclaimer, a “What people are saying about the book”, etc.  To get to the actual start of the book, the reader has to go well into the first 10%, so don’t need to read much to trigger the royalty.  Have a think how you can do that in your books, encouraging readers past the first 10%.  Incidentally, I believe that the first 10% is roughly what Amazon shows in the “Look Inside” feature of the book sales page.  Of course, if you are writing fiction, that’s even more reason to make sure your first chapter or two are real page turners!

If you have any thoughts, or want to share your experiences so far with Kindle Unlimited (either as a publisher, or customer), please leave a comment below.

Not publishing your own books yet?

If you aren’t yet writing and publishing your own books on Kindle, you can read about my own journey into Kindle publishing on a Facebook page I set up back on the 17th July 2012.  On that page, I shared my income reports for the first few months.  Here was my first one:


Obviously, things got a lot better!

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