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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|

Publishing lock-in.

It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can’t afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion’s share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon’s DRM.

The more books Hachette sold with Amazon DRM, the more its customers would have to give up to follow it to a competing store.

–Cory Doctorow on the DRM own goal.

DRM is promoted as locking a purchase to a customer. What it actually does is lock a customer to a retailer.

2018-04-27T13:48:48+10:0010th August, 2014|Tags: amazon, books, business, drm, ebooks, hachette, kindle, publishing|

“Loyalty”? Try “lock-in”.

The actual article itself is better than its title, but it still highlights the dark side of the current ebook market; that is, single-vendor, DRM-facilitated lock-in.

On a related note: I’ll freely admit that I DRM-strip and reformat all the ebooks I buy. I don’t want to do this–it’s a pain in the ass, if nothing else–but do it anyway mainly because, I a) (sadly) still buy most ebooks from Amazon, but b) really, really fucking hate the Kindle app on iOS/OS X. It has shitty typography and justified text that makes me want to stab myself. And so I go through the rigmarole of republishing my books as epubs with rag-right text, wide line spacing, and nice fonts, because fuck you that’s why.

Formatting ebooks–particularly novels–is less like formatting print and more like formatting web pages (almost exactly like that, in fact, given the technologies involved). Except e-readers in general and formatting in particular still seem to be stuck where webdesign was circa 2004. I haven’t yet come across a book with formatting that rivals something like, say, the average post on Medium (and it’s arguably difficult to produce something like this, again given technical limitations).

Things will get better–and prettier–because they always do. But reading the the interim is painful all the same.

(P.S. To those who ask “why don’t you just buy your books from iBooks?”: basically because I’m a doofus. When iBooks launched it didn’t have stock in Australia–the publishers’ fault, not Apple’s–so I tend not to think of it when it’s time to go word-hunting. Honestly, I don’t even really know what titles are available from the iBooks store in Australia nowadays. I should probably go look into that…)

2017-11-16T10:54:26+11:005th April, 2014|Tags: amazon, books, ebooks, epub, kindle, publishing, tech|
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