A bad business decision is not always a bad one.
I have happily made a very bad business decision. Let me explain.
A little over six months ago I made the decision to move all of my ebooks to Amazon KDP Select, which at the time made a lot of sense, as I explained in my post about it back then. However, as so often happens in business as in life, things changed.
While the first few months went well, and I should say, very well indeed, Amazon suddenly made an enormous change to the way they pay authors under their Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscriber service. Whereas when I entered Select, every ebook borrowed paid around $1.40, Amazon changed this formula to a per word read basis and not a per book basis. Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) meant that I would be paid per page read.
This was a huge change and one that many authors deemed unfair.
Without much information to go on at first, I decided to stay with Select and to see how things panned out once I could get access to a couple of months sales data, as this new payment system only reports earnings in the middle of the following month.
When I did get hold of the data, I then had to get out my calculator to figure out how much I was receiving for a fully read book. Not an easy calculation with so many books of different word counts. In the end, though I calculated that my return on a ninety thousand word novel was about $1.35. For a novella, around $0.45. Compared to the previous system of $1.40 per book, I wasn’t very excited at the return.
As my selling price for a full novel is $4.99 and for a novella, $2.99, both systems meant I was out of pocket. To be fair, though, I do have to add that due to the reduced prices under KU, I did sell, well, lent perhaps is a better word, more books.
However, I then understood that I wasn’t necessarily moving more ebooks. Because of ‘pay per page‘, I was often only receiving a couple of cents per book, because readers under KU could try a book, and then give up on it after only a few pages. A bit like taking a bite of a hamburger and then giving it back and only paying for one mouthful. I didn’t like this at all.
They are my books, not Amazon’s.
I was left with an obvious conclusion. By allowing my ebooks to be available under Kindle Unlimited, I was, in fact, letting my ebooks be sold (lent) very cheaply, only to support Amazon’s KU subscription service monthly fee of $9.99, and not my royalty income. While more of my books may have been read, many only partially, though, I had lost all control over my selling price. On top of this, I had to wait until the middle of the following month to find out how much Amazon deemed to pay for the preceding month under (KENP).
Even with all my misgivings and dislike of the (KENP) payment system, I have to admit that my monthly earnings were higher than before I entered Select six months ago.
But I have decided to make a very bad business decision and leave Select, KU and (KENP). Why? Because I think it is unfair, unjust and will be destructive over time, by reducing the value of ebooks and of authors’ work.
To be blunt, I am an independent author, and I want to set the price for my books and ebooks, and I refuse to accept that they can be discounted to next nothing by Amazon to fulfil their marketing aims. I refuse to accept that a reader can take one ‘bite‘ of any of my books, and then hand it back, like a hamburger, and only pay for their one bite or three pages.
I don’t care if I sell not one more book, but I refuse to abide by readers being able to buy my books by the page, or worse, by the word. They either buy my book or don’t. Because that is how books have always been sold, as a book.
So yes. I’m making a very bad business decision, and will surely lose income, but I can sleep easily with this. Because my books are books, and will be sold as books, not simply words, or bites of a hamburger.