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FaaS: Fiction-as-a-Service.

In my day job, I do a lot of work with Amazon’s cloud infrastructure arm, a.k.a. Amazon Web Services. These are the guys who sell the servers, the storage, the platforms, and the automation that powers pretty much every Silicon Valley startup you’ve ever heard of.

People buy AWS because it’s brutally efficient, particularly at scale. If you’ve ever had to manage a physical data centre–and, more importantly, provisioning in a physical data centre–being able to log into a webpage, click a button, and spin up $100,000 worth of servers in ten minutes is literally mind-blowing.

It’s even more mind-blowing to realise that if, for example, you turn all those servers off when you’re not using them–say on weekends and at night–then your costs drop to $40,000. Oh, and if you open another webpage, you get a reporting graph that tells you exactly that. In real time.

This is Amazon’s business model, and this is what is actually meant when people talk about “cloud computing”; it’s a cost and consumption model, not just a buzzword for virtualisation. Amazon, more so than any other player, made this industry. It commoditised IT infrastructure, made it one-click and on-demand. Every other player in the market is still scrambling to catch up.

The reason I’m mentioning this, is because the fact that this is my day job means reading articles about services like Kindle Unlimited can be… interesting. Interesting because it’s pretty obvious, for anyone who comes from IT cloud land, what Amazon’s new pay-per-page model is.

It’s cloud computing paradigms brought to bear against the publishing industry. It’s fiction-as-a-service, pay-as-you-go commoditised consumption in the same way EC2 is to a blade server or S3 is to a SAN. Whether it’s “good” or not is a moot point; it is, in the same way cloud computing now is.

Amazon made the game. Now it’s up to the rest of us to figure out the rules.

2016-11-17T21:00:37+11:008th September, 2015|Tags: amazon, business, kindle unlimited|

Short thoughts on KU 2.0 shorts.

Background: This. Tl;dr, Amazon changed the payment algorithm behind Kindle Unlimited, such that it now pays authors $0.006, i.e. a bit less than half a cent, per page read. There’s a bunch of angst going around about whether this is “fair” or not–and to whom–to which I will refer you to the linked TechCrunch article.

Thought #1: Pro rates for short stories are $0.06 per word. The average novel page has about 250-300 words. That means about $15-18 per page. So, Amazon is paying authors of short fiction in KU roughly 0.0004% of what they’d be getting from a conventional paid market.

In other words, an author’s short story needs to be read somewhere over 2,600 times to hit the equivalent to industry pro rates.

Thought #2: Minimum advances for professional qualifying markets are about $2,000 a novel, or $0.025 per word, assuming an average novel length of 80,000. So say about 320 pages, or $1.92 per novel at KU rates.

In other words, an average novel-length novel will need to be read through something like 1,000 times to “break even” against the lowest professional advance.

Question: Just how viable are these numbers? Discuss.

EtA: I just realised I’ve made the same error in this that annoys me in every other article abut selfpub, which is to say I’ve assumed the cost of a self published work is zero. Which it usually isn’t. So, yanno. There’s also that.

2016-11-17T20:58:01+11:007th July, 2015|Tags: amazon, kindle, kindle unlimited, publishing, self-publishing, writing, xp|

Content draws but platforms deliver.

Mike Shatzkin ebook subscriptions.

Personally, I think this is another one of those things where the initial incentives for publishers to jump on board are low, but the long-term prospects are inevitable. The deck here is stacked for the sub services themselves, to the point where I’m not even sure how tradpub could “win”, exactly.

Change or die time, round… what are we up to now? Three? Four? Something like that.

2014-07-30T08:56:25+10:008th September, 2014|Tags: ebooks, kindle unlimited, publishing|