Randall Wood

Am I a Kindle Unlimited thinker?

As many of you already know I’ve been against KU. After looking the program over and seeing how Amazon has skewed the rankings and visibility, as well as the payout, overwhelmingly in their favor I chose to pull all of my full-length works out and go with distribution on all of the other platforms. So far I’m very happy with my decision. It made sense as a business decision and its now making sense in my bank account.

goodwill store

But I have to wonder about the KU subscriber. They would have to be a voracious reader to get their money’s worth out of KU. The voracious reader is the one that Indie Authors write for. It’s a symbiotic relationship that feeds both parties. I talked about this in a previous post that went viral here.

But I’m wondering if the voracious reader is now, thanks to KU, feeling that ALL books should be “free”, or at least inside a subscription service they can access for as little as $10 a month. I initially pushed the thought aside, but something I did the other day got me thinking about it again. I’m wondering if I’m being programmed to devalue books in much the same way?

I have an extensive library of hardcover’s. I’ve been collecting them since high school and its grown to several thousand volumes. I recently inherited a collection from my uncle that increased that number by 50%. It prompted me to build a library to hold them all. I documented it here.

I still collect hardcover’s. Simply because I like them and I have a source that provides them extremely cheap.

How cheap? $3.50.

I live in Florida where the median age is OLD. I’m surrounded by retired couples that spend their winters here and their summers up north with the grandkids. These people prefer hardcover’s, they have the money to spend on them but they lack the room in the car to carry them home in the spring. So a majority of them donate their books to the local Goodwill Bookstore.
When I say books, I mean brand-new hardcover’s. Books that have been read once and that’s it. Premium shape and quality. I can often find a book that’s on the bestseller list there a few weeks after it comes out in the chain stores.

So I’m a bit spoiled. I limit myself to two books per trip. If I really like the book it stays in my library. If someone wants to read a copy from my shelves it’s a gift as I know I can replace it fairly cheap if I wish to. That $3.50 price-point is locked in my head.

When my wife recently announced that she needed to go to the local Books-a-Million to find a gift for a friend I tagged along to see how much of the store was still devoted to books and grab a coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, I like our local BAM. The staff are nice, the coffee is good, and they are open until midnight on the weekends. If everything wasn’t trade-pub priced I might be there more often.

So I enter and wander until I come to the reduced price section. Hardcover’s that didn’t sell end up here for one last chance before they get shipped back to the publisher. Prices are usually $8-12.

Except today. Today they were having a holiday sale. Today they are $5.

I saw several that I would have grabbed if they had been at the Goodwill store, yet I didn’t touch them. I just walked and scanned the titles until my wife returned.

“Five bucks? Why aren’t your arms full?”

“I can get books for $3.50 at Goodwill.”

She gave me that look. “Really?”

That’s when it dawned on me. I was programmed. I was willing to dismiss a book that I wanted for a price difference of $1.50.

One Dollar and Fifty Cents.

I spend four times that on coffee every day and it only last me ten minutes.

I’ve seen people on the internet comment that since they have joined Kindle Unlimited they now only shop for KU books. If they come across a book that interest them and it’s not in KU they simply move on to something else, even if that book was priced very low. Even less than the $1.50 I was evidently programmed at.

Is this where we are headed? Is this where I’m headed?

I’m going to try two things. I’m going to shop at BAM more often, and I’m going to try to drink less coffee.

I doubt I’ll have much luck with the second one.

1 thought on “Am I a Kindle Unlimited thinker?”

  1. Hmm. Here’s my $0.02.

    When you mention the $1.50 price difference, that’s sort of the reverse of the psychology used in marketing. “Save $5!” makes you feel a lot more enriched than when you look at the new price tag of $24.99. So telling yourself that the BAM hardbacks were only $1.50 more solidifies that number in your mind as the most important number and lets you focus on how small it is. But that’s not how we really make purchasing decisions. We look at Book A, and it’s $3.50, and we look at Book B, and it’s $5.00. All other things being the same, we buy book A.

    And that’s the important part: all other things being the same. If we see two books as interchangeable, then price becomes the determining factor. And why shouldn’t it be?

    I think a voracious reader will tend to go through all of their favorite writers’ books, and then start scrounging for more. I know I do. But when one of my writers releases a new one, I snap it up. KU might train people to value books a certain way, but that doesn’t mean they won’t override that mentality when a favorite comes around.

    I don’t see how Amazon will profit from KU, especially with how it encourages much shorter works that will bleed the program dry. Even if it takes off, though, having a good fanbase is still the answer.

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