eBook Subscription Services- Helping or Hurting?

With the blatant success of movie and TV subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime; it was inevitable that this type of service would be translated to other forms of entertainment, like books. As of now, several websites exist that allow subscribers to read as many books as they want, all for around $10 a month. eBook subscription services sort of work like cool, exclusive libraries; where you can take as many books as you want for as long as you want, all without breaking your back to carry them out of the building. For the insatiable reader, things couldn’t get any better. But what effects do these types of services have on the providers of such content: writers? It’s actually a hard question to answer. Subscription services like Scribd, Oyster, and Kindle Unlimited all run on slightly different platforms. The one generating the most controversy, however, appears to be Kindle Unlimited.

This book streaming service provided by Amazon gives indie authors the opportunity to make it big in the industry, free from the limitations of big publishing houses, and with a (seemingly) larger chunk of income. Unattached to any major publishing platforms such as Harper or Penguin (most likely due to their scandal with Hatchette), Kindle Unlimited draws most of its books from those that Amazon has helped publish. Although this service has provided indie authors unprecedented exposure, some authors aren’t pleased. According to author H.M. Ward, her income “dropped 75 percent” after two months in the program. Many others complain that the premise of unlimited books at a cheap, fixed price helps devalue books and authors themselves. So are eBook subscription services like Kindle Unlimited good or bad? As much as I’d like to provide an answer, it really depends on what you want from the service. Are you an avid reader looking for cheap reads? Head on over. Are you a publish house-weary author looking for your big break? Amazon may be a perfect fit. Or are you writing for the romantic thrill of seeing your work in the window of a corner store, the endless book tours and that decadent book smell? I’m afraid I don’t have an answer.

Sources and Further Reading:

Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat-Books. Authors Turn Up Noses. 

Is Kindle Unlimited Good or Bad for Authors – Six Viewpoints

The mathematics of Kindle Unlimited and the ebook subscription business


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