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Old 01-12-2019, 09:54 PM   #1
sufue
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interesting blog post by Ilona Andrews about the economics of KU

I found this blog post interesting: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/ku-availability/

It's by Ilona Andrews (husband and wife team, best known for their conventionally-published Kate Daniels distopia/romance series, but also with some other series) and is about the economics, for them at least, of KU for their non-traditionally published titles. They also talk about the assumed economics for other authors who write differently (faster) than they do.

If you don't want to read the post, the short summary is "no" - KU doesn't work for them. They acknowledge that it might work differently for some other authors.

Anyway, I found it an interesting analysis...
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:03 PM   #2
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From the blog post:
Quote:
First, KU books must be exclusive to Amazon. If the book is in KU program, it can’t be sold by any other retailer
THIS explains why I gave up on KU after 3 months. I was forever being frustrated by not being able to find books I actually wanted to read. Now I know why. Their explanation of why it's poor value for many writers makes sense, and has made more sense of why it's also poor value for many readers. Thanks for the link!
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by stuartjmz View Post
From the blog post:


THIS explains why I gave up on KU after 3 months. I was forever being frustrated by not being able to find books I actually wanted to read. Now I know why. Their explanation of why it's poor value for many writers makes sense, and has made more sense of why it's also poor value for many readers. Thanks for the link!
I don't find any difficulty being able to find books I actually wanted to read but I am halfway through my second low price three-month trial. I agree that the full price is too much.

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=sr_...oks-Submit.y=7

A reprint of a series (18 so far) I read twenty years ago from the library.
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:18 PM   #4
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An interesting comment. One author my wife loves pulled her books from KU for somewat similar economic reasons. The payment per book did not make up for the income loss from sales at other bookstores. It wasn't a great difference but she estimated her income dropped by ~8% when her books were on KU and not available on other bookstores. She mentioned dropping a book to anything from $1.99 to free on sites such as Bookbub for a short time worked better for boosting sales of other books in a series. Evidently KU readers would wait for the next book in a series to become available on KU and not actually spend the money to purchase it.

Last edited by DNSB; 01-12-2019 at 11:21 PM. Reason: Fat fingered typos ©
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:38 AM   #5
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Interesting. I rather like Ilona Andrews Innkeeper and Kate Daniels books (I do try to a John Ringo or Larry Corriea book immediately after, to keep my man card active though <grin> ) I've never used KU myself, but I can see the issues they have with it. It makes a lot of sense really.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:55 AM   #6
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I still have a KU subscription, but am not planning on renewing it when it comes up. And this blog post helped me understand why mostly the books I want to read aren't in KU.

I find I have mostly ended up using KU to get the most recent book in a series (if it's actually in KU) to read right away, thus soothing my impatience, and then I wait until it drops in price somewhat before buying. But pretty much the only series that I care about enough to want the newest one right away are also the ones I eventually buy, even though at reduced price, so I'm not really getting the full value from KU. If I added up the full prices of the books I've used KU for, it probably wouldn't add up to the price of KU, although I shudder at the thought of buying full price. Still, if I can make myself wait, or maybe get some titles via the library until they go on sale, I'll save a lot by not re-upping KU.

The only other benefit to KU for me is the ability to read Amazon-published titles for free, but almost all of those go on sale for either $1.99, or even sometimes $0.99, from time to time, so again, I'd have to buy a lot of them to even approach the cost of KU. And I'll still have the Prime Reading titles available, since as a family we make enough use of Amazon Prime to keep it for now, although if it goes up too much more in price, we may have to re-think that too .

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Originally Posted by DNSB View Post
An interesting comment. One author my wife loves pulled her books from KU for somewat similar economic reasons. The payment per book did not make up for the income loss from sales at other bookstores. It wasn't a great difference but she estimated her income dropped by ~8% when her books were on KU and not available on other bookstores. She mentioned dropping a book to anything from $1.99 to free on sites such as Bookbub for a short time worked better for boosting sales of other books in a series. Evidently KU readers would wait for the next book in a series to become available on KU and not actually spend the money to purchase it.
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:10 PM   #7
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For what it's worth:

1- This is not news. People have been making the same point over and over since KU was introduced. No, KU is not a substitute for full price sales for the vast majority of authors. It has never been billed as such. What it has been billed as by AMAZON is as discovery tool.
Right there in their sign up page: "Enjoy the freedom to explore over 1 million titles, thousands of audiobooks, and current magazines on any device for just $9.99 a month." For authors this means it is a *promotional* tool to get books before readers who aren't already fans.

2- If you look at the "Andrews" math, that .85 multiplier means there is an agent in the loop, which means that "Andrews" is a hybrid author with one foot in tradpub and one foot in the Indie world. Lots of those around and more each day. A good thing. But being hybrid, that means that they have an *established* fanbase willing to *buy* the books at full retail. So, why even bother with KU? As a promotion? As an alternative to Bookbub or permafree? Neither of those returns full profits either.

3- Having established that KU doesn't work for established authors (or readers looking for established/tradpub authors) who does benefit from KU? The thing is on its way to its fifth anniversary with an ever-increasing catalog and ever-increasing payout pool. Somebody other than Amazon likes it. Many somebodies, in fact. For starters, the obvious: unagented authors selling their books around $3 instead of $5. Authors who don't have the name recognition of fanbase to make a living off full price sales, typically authors still ramping up their career. To these authors, being discovered and getting reviews is worth more than just the pool payment. Each discounted read is another brick in the foundation of a writing career. Foundation, not penthouse.

3- There is one other (enormous, actually) category of author for whom KU makes economic sense: authors published by Harlequin between 1990 and 2004, plus some published up to 2012, who earned advances in the $300-500 range and royalties in the $0.25-0.35 range as a result of Harlequin self-dealing.

https://dearauthor.com/features/indu...-of-royalties/

They are they are the reason why both KDP and KU skew heavily towards romance. Yes, "Andrews" is right to consider a $2 payout inadequate but somebody used to a $0.25 payout on a $5 paperback? Hey, that's an 800% boost. (And to readers used to paying $5 for those stories, a $9.99 monthly fee is two books worth.) A common testimonial from these "Harlequin refugees is "...made more in one month of KU than the entire run with Harlequin".

It takes all kinds.
Right here we have readers who won't blink at a $15 ebook, readers who won't go above $9.99 or $4.99 or some other budgetary limitation. Some people lean heavily on free reads, from libraries or promos.
Different budgets, different markets.
It's not a one size fits all situation but different solutions for different budgets.
" Andrews" isn't alone in finding KU payouts too low nor the first to say so openly.
Not news.
Early on a bunch of established authors found KU was cannibalizing their KDP sales and Amazon graciously let them break the 90 day contract early. After all, they were losing money too.
(Amazon did institute a bonus payment program for authors who get significantly higher than average reads because, well, some animals are more equal.)
That was open news years ago; you'd think the agent would've warned "Andrews" upfront.

https://the-digital-reader.com/2015/...thout-penalty/

You'd think the word would be out on that by now.

Me, I've never bothered with KU because I'm covered with the Baen bundles, Prime monthly freebies, Prime reading, and the occasional impulse buy. It's not $9.99 a month but I rarely go over $30. And that fits my budget. My sister swears by KU, though. She likes the fixed price and finds no shortage of reads or reason to pay more. Except once or twice a year.

To each their own.
The good news is there are plenty of options for the informed.
There's no right way or wrong way to get reads.
Do what suits you but don't expect your situation to apply to others.

Last edited by fjtorres; 01-13-2019 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:04 PM   #8
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I would certainly sign up for KU if it was available in my country. I read lots of self-published authors, mostly in the SF/Fantasy genre. Some of them are pretty good. Of course they're not monuments of great literature, but they're pretty good entertainment.

I would continue to buy books as well, both tradpubs and self-pubs. But I would not mind subscribing to a borrowing program like KU. Library ebooks are not available in my country either, so that means I have to buy any and all books I want to read at full price. Even if I'm not sure whether I 'd like it or not.

I'm actually quite pissed at Amazon that they've still not made KU available in other countries besides the current handful. After all, it's been 5 years.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:19 PM   #9
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I would certainly sign up for KU if it was available in my country. I read lots of self-published authors, mostly in the SF/Fantasy genre. Some of them are pretty good. Of course they're not monuments of great literature, but they're pretty good entertainment.

I would continue to buy books as well, both tradpubs and self-pubs. But I would not mind subscribing to a borrowing program like KU. Library ebooks are not available in my country either, so that means I have to buy any and all books I want to read at full price. Even if I'm not sure whether I 'd like it or not.

I'm actually quite pissed at Amazon that they've still not made KU available in other countries besides the current handful. After all, it's been 5 years.
I would not be shocked if the issue has as much to do with legal issues in various jurisdictions as it does with Amazon simply not making it available.
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Old Today, 12:26 PM   #10
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I've found that KU fulfills some very different roles, at least for me, at the same time:
A) It is a guilt free/budget free entrance to new authors or authors that I would be on the fence about.
B) It is great for reading authors that have a large backlist or publish very frequently
C) It fulfills quick non-fiction reference needs without clogging up the Kindle content or going to the library
D) It has proved useful (especially the Harry Potter) in unexpectedly entertaining kids on trips.

Are the KU authors losing out on more money from me? Possibly. But then, I could be buying their books at a used book store or checking them out from the library - which I would probably do. I have gone back and bought some of the KU titles I find myself re-reading.

As an aside, I do buy and own Ilona Andrews novels both paper and electronic. However the latest at $12.99 is a bit above my budget, so I'm waiting until it drifts downward at least as far as a paperback costs.
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