There's been a lot of shouting over the recent change to the Kindle Unlimited ("KU") payment plan. On the heels of Amazon's announcement came the news late yesterday that Scribd has eliminated all romance books from their subscription service. Apparently, the only exception are free books.
Why? Because romance readers are some of the most voracious readers of books in all forms. I know folks who can go through a book or more a day.
Think about it. If a subscriber only pays $9.99 a month, and they read 30 books a month, how can Scribd possibly pay each author their full retail amount? Even if the reader only read books that are in Scribd at $0.99, that's still a $17.70 payout to the writer/publisher after Scribd's and the distributor's fees.
I have to wonder if Scribd has notified their subscribers yet because I haven't heard a hue and cry from the readers. The news first broke late yesterday afternoon from publisher Bob Mayer from Cool Gus Publishing who got the news from their distributor D2D and from Mark Coker of Smashwords, another e-book distributor.
So what does this all mean?
It depends on why you put your books into a subscription service like KU or Scribd to begin with. In my case, I haven't put anything into KU because it requires exclusivity with Amazon, and I'm the rare indie author in that I make far more through other channels than I do Amazon. As for Scribd, or its major direct competitor Oyster, I only entered my Bloodlines and Secret of Magick series into their programs. It was an effort to promote them since my erotica/romance books under Alter Ego were doing just fine on sales at the time.
In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, I don't think Scribd or Oyster can be viable in the long run without lowering payments to writers/publishers, which is exactly what Amazon has done to keep KU going. If a writer depends on only one retailer or one methodology, such as borrows, for their income, I think they will be screwed in the long run. As always, YMMV.
Edit to add: Here's Scribd's announcement. There's been a little grumbling on Twitter, but mainly from authors. Same on FB. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the day goes.
Edit to add 2 11:15 pm EDT: Still more screaming from authors than readers about Scribd's changes on social media, but I did notice a handful of readers who are ticked about Scribd charging for free books. #Scribd
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