Monthly Archives: July 2014

I Am The Market

Nor has Youtube.

I have several problems with Amazon Isn’t Killing Writing, The Market Is. The article is about the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription for $9.95/month for unlimited access to the Kindle eBook library.

First, Amazon already offers borrowing from some of the Kindle library as part of their Prime service. I borrowed a book from it which I probably was not going to buy otherwise. (That was a good move because the book kind of sucked.) Only being able to read the book on a couple of my Kindle devices was really offputting, so unless there is a very compelling reason to do so, I probably will not borrow another book.

For authors, my library aficionado patron friends are terrible. They check out books from a library instead of buying them. These friends also tend to rent videos instead of buying Blurays or DVDs. They prefer music streaming services or listening to the radio over buying music. They are not into building collections of media. All of these are terrible for content creators. A library buying a physical book means the author gets royalties for the single purchase not each person who checks out the book. Under newer library eBook subscription model, I suspect a book will need to be checked out many times for a book to equal one physical book’s purchase. So, bestsellers may do better and everyone else do worse.

Back on Memorial Day, I had a momentary bout of guilt. The owner of a Five Guys restaurant and I talked about the newspapers having trouble figuring out online distribution. He made the comment that we as consumers should pay the people who create the content we like. Mom spent a lot of time shopping in and selling to the used book store back where I grew up, so I have no fear of buying used. (I’ve bought 22 used books since Memorial Day from betterworldbooks alone. Another 11 used and 2 new on Amazon.) Buying a used book earns authors no royalties. So, authors should hate people like me. Before shifting to buying so much online, most in person purchases were off sales racks. The only books I bought new were novel series where I waited for a long time for it to drop.

The other piece of guilt was a shift in my reading to public domain books. Edgar Rice Burroughs, L. Frank Baum, and Alexandre Dumas are all fantastic for publishing so much years and years ago. I can read them all for free through the Kindle because they are dead and volunteer efforts like Project Gutenberg.

Just like Netflix did not kill cable or movie theaters, Amazon Kindle Unlimited will not kill book publishing. Sure, some small number of people will shift from buying books to subscribing, but these are likely people who were not going to be be buying many books anyway.

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