Ebook Lending

PLR rate to increase by 1p next year

11 November 2015

From The Bookseller:

The British Library Board has proposed an increase in Public Lending Right (PLR) payment made to authors next year, following a decrease in the estimated number of book loans.

The board has recommended the PLR rate should increase from 6.66 pence to 7.67 pence per loan in 2016, a rise of 1.01p, which the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS) intends to accept.

Following the proposal, the Society of Authors c.e.o Nicola Solomon has written to Dominic Lake, deputy director of arts, libraries and cultural property at the DCMS, urging the government to ring-fence the PLR fund and “protect and maintain the library service which is under serious threat.”

Lake said: “The proposed increase has been possible in part due to efficiency savings and increased income, and in part as a result of a reduction in the estimated number of loans of books registered for PLR. The DCMS notes the British Library Board’s recommendation that the 2016 payments are made at an increased rate per loan of 7.67 pence and propose to amend the PLR Scheme accordingly.”

. . . .

“PLR continues to be an important source of earnings for authors and we would urge the government to ring-fence the (already meagre) PLR Fund in any future spending review,” Solomon said. “We are sad to note the decrease in the estimate loans of books registered for PLR, caused, no doubt, by the cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme. We urge the government to include volunteer-run libraries within the PLR scheme so that true figures for library lending can be recorded and remunerated.”

She went on to say: “We understand that the government is considering plans to bring in PLR payments for remote e-lending. Libraries now remotely lend a significant number of e-books and it is only fair that authors should be remunerated for these. Publishers have been reluctant to ensure that authors receive a fair share of licensing revenues for remote lending. We believe that an author’s receipts from e-book lending should equate to the total earnings the author would have received on a physical copy over the lifetime of the book from the combination of royalties on sale and PLR on every loan. The same considerations apply to the remote lending of digital audiobooks.”

The PLR payment is made to authors by the government each time their books are loaned through the public library system. The amount due to each author is based on a rate per loan, calculated on the basis of the size of the fund available and an estimate of the total number of loans of their registered works, obtained by way of a sample of public libraries in the UK.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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Kindle Unlimited

25 August 2015

From author Susan Tisdale:

Over the past few months, there has been lots of talk about Kindle Unlimited. For those of you who don’t know what KU (Kindle Unlimited) is, think of it as Netflix for books. For $9.95 a month, you can borrow as many books as you can read. As soon as you’re done with a book, you can return it and get another, keeping as many as ten titles at a time to read to your heart’s content.

There also seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on just how it works. Today, I’ll answer some of the main questions and concerns that I hear from readers regarding KU.

But first, let me talk about my own personal experience with Amazon and the other vendors. For more than three years my books were exclusive to Amazon and I was very content and happy with my success there. I had built a great reader base and was able to give up my day job within in a year of publishing my first book. That was until last summer when the bottom seemed to fall out. I didn’t realize it at the time that it was only a temporary set back. Instead, I gave in to a knee jerk reaction and began preparations to make my books available on other platforms. By January of this year, my books were also available at iBooks, B&N, and Kobo.

In all honesty, were it not for Amazon, I would not have been able to give up my day job a few years ago to become a full time author. None of the other vendors treated me with the same amount of respect and level of help that Amazon and it’s KDP people have.

After a seven-month long experiment, I’ve decided to go back to being exclusive to Amazon and making many of my books available through the Kindle Unlimited program. While I had a couple of relatively decent months at the other vendors, the results were erratic and unstable. There was nothing that I could count on and in the case of B&N no one to turn to to ask questions, get support, or strategize with. Simply put, there is no one at B&N to help the indie author. While it was much easier to find an actual human being to help you at iBooks and Kobo, the resulting sales were not anywhere near what I had hoped for. Many indie authors are quite successful on these platforms and to them, I tip my hat. But as in almost all things, results will vary from author to author, person to person. Why one things works for one author and not another, I simply do not know. I can only speak to my own personal experiences.

. . . .

My own personal results with the new KU 2.0 as we call it has been amazing! In July alone I had more than 800,000 pages read. By the 20th of this month I had surpassed even that number and if things continue on the current path we will hit the million pages read mark within the next 48 hours. That is a lot of new readers being introduced to my books and that makes me exceedingly happy.

. . . .

Kindle Unlimited can be a great resource for those people who have ‘book budgets’, like I used to have when I got my first Kindle in 2010. Back then, I could read three or four books a week and that could get quite expensive. KU gives those readers the opportunity to read as many books as they wish without worrying about going over their budgets.

Link to the rest at Your Cheeky Wench and thanks to Shelly for the tip.

Here’s a link to Susan Tisdale’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Konrath Kindle Unlimited Numbers

16 August 2015

From Joe Konrath:

I might be pretty good barometer for this experiment, because I have a large backlist, I haven’t released anything new in over a year, and I didn’t do any BookBubs or other promo in June or July (May was the last one I did.)

So the only real difference between my numbers in June and my numbers in July is the new KU 2.0 payout system. I’d already shared some thoughts about it last month.

Let’s take a look how I did.

I have 28 novel-length works in KDP, all over 60k words. I have 17 shorter works, ranging from 8k-50k. Genres include mystery, thriller, horror, humor, erotica, and sci-fi.

In June, I made $9300 in KDP sales.

In July I made $10,550 in KDP sales.

In June, I made $5700 in KU/KOLL borrows.

In July, I made $11,600 in KENP reads.

So my KU income doubled under the new payment system. I have no idea what to attribute the extra twelve hundred in sales to, but it’s pretty clear that KU 2.0 benefits me.

Under the old system, I earned as much for With A Twist, which is 23 pages, as I did for The List, which is 310 pages.

. . . .

Under the new system, estimating $.005779 per page read, a full read of With A Twist earned me $0.16, and a full read of The List earned me $1.79.

. . . .

First, I wonder why I didn’t pay more attention to KU 1.0 while it was in full effect, because I should have written a ton of short stories. The short story market prior to Kindle was dismal. Getting into a top market was very hard. There was a lot of competition. Most markets paid $0.05 a word, so With A Twist was worth about $300, and I was lucky EQMM paid more. But the fact that I was making $60 a month on a short story is insane. Never before, in the history of publishing, have short stories been worth so much. I was fortunate enough to get that story into one of the top paying markets in the world, and I made $450. Under KU 1.0 I was on track to make $720 a year on that same story, just in borrows.

Second, even though short stories were finally lucrative, thanks to Amazon, my readers still seem to prefer longer work. With a Twist is a Jack Daniels short. Cherry Bomb, my weakest selling JD novel, had 313 borrows in June, and 179 sales. This is true for all of my shorts and novels; the novels had more sales and more borrows. Anyone who needs more proof of this, look at the thousands of reviews I’ve had for novels. whereas my shorts are lucky to garner a few dozen.

Third, readers really seem to like KU. I was getting more borrows than sales.

Fourth, even though readers did more borrowing than buying, I was earning almost twice as much via sales than borrows.

Maybe this is why I didn’t pay a lot of attention. I saw the numbers, saw that sales were still financially superior to borrows, and decided not to worry about borrows.

Now, there’s no doubt KU was cannibalizing sales, but I wasn’t complaining. I was in KDP Select, but it wasn’t my only source of income. So I didn’t worry about it, nor did I take advantage of it. It was what it was.

. . . .

Under KU 1.0, Amazon was rewarding writers for enrolling in KDP Select. Amazon wanted as many titles as possible, to build their Kindle Unlimited catalog. Shorts are easier and faster to write than novels, so Amazon rewarded short stories by paying authors much higher for shorter works, way out of proportion with novels and with the paper short story market, in order to get more titles into KU so it appealed to more subscribers.

Under KU 2.0, Amazon is rewarding writers for being good writers. Amazon wants writers to hook readers for longer than 10% of the ebook. Amazon wants good, meaty novels, which my numbers point to readers liking more than shorts.

. . . .

Under KU 2.0, I’m continuing to do what all professional fiction writers have done throughout history; write novels. It’s what readers want. With the rare exceptions of a few authors, no one made a living selling shorts. There was a brief moment, during KU 1.0, where shorts were valuable. Their market value has now dropped. Novels are going to earn writers more money. But they have to be good novels.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Stephen for the tip.

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

ALA Releases New Digital Privacy Guidelines

5 August 2015

From The Digital Reader:

The American Library Association announced on Tuesday that it has published a new set of privacy guidelines.

Spurred on by last fall’s revelations that Adobe was spying on readers, the ALA has come up with new set of best practices for vendors and librarians to follow so they can better respect the privacy of library patrons.

The fact of the matter is, librarians have always taken patron privacy seriously. That’s why librarians objected to the Patriot Act and it’s why many librarians were upset when OverDrive partnered with Amazon to bring library ebooks to the Kindle, but lately it’s become clear that practice isn’t matching up with principle any more.

. . . .

The new guidelines note that contracts between “libraries and vendors should address appropriate restrictions on the use, aggregation, retention, and dissemination of patron data, particularly information about minors.” The guidelines go on to add that:

The vendor should give users options as to how much personal information is collected from them and how it may be used. Users should have choices about whether or not to opt-in to features and services that require the collection  of personal information. Users should also have the ability to opt-out and have their personal information erased if they later change their minds.

Later sections cover ereaders and other user devices,

There’s also a long section which spells out the rules for patron data, including how vendors should protect, encrypt, and anonymize the data.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Susan and others for the tip.

Why erotica writers are upset with Amazon

13 July 2015

From CBCRadio:

Amazon has announced changes to how it pays self-publishing authors. The changes apply to books that users borrow through Kindle Unlimited and Kindle’s Lending Library. Instead of paying authors a flat rate when someone borrows one of their books, it will now only pay authors based on the number of pages actually read — a rate as little as $0.006 per page.

This has some authors up in arms — especially those who write short stories, cookbooks, children’s books, and erotica. They say the change disproportionately affects their shorter-length works and that they can no longer make a living wage with the new pay structure. We talk to erotica writer Lexie Syrah, who has pulled all eight of her titles off of Kindle Unlimited and is calling on other authors to do the same.

. . . .

Your books are quite short. Why is that?

I went into writing shorts because that’s what the people are asking for. People read erotica for a variety of reasons, but most people read erotica because they want to feel excited. They want to have a fantasy. And so they don’t want to read 200 pages about the colour of a bed or the setting of a bedroom. They want the down and dirty. And they want it right now.

. . . .

So you’ve taken all of your publications then off of Kindle Unlimited. Where do you go from here, what are your other options for making a living?

Well, I still sell my books on Amazon. That is in no way associated with Kindle Unlimited. But I am really starting to utilize a site that I found called Smashwords. Honestly, I wish I would have found Smashwords far before I ever found Kindle Unlimited. They make it very easy as somebody trying to self-publish. They have a How-To manual that really does just state everything you need to know to be able to format your book.

. . . .

Could you not argue that the new system that Amazon is implementing when it comes to the Kindle Unlimited might actually be more fair? Because it rewards those writers who keep readers reading and gives them more of an incentive?

I’m not saying that people with very large books that are good, that keep them reading.. I mean that’s a great thing, that’s awesome for them.

But it’s not that I can’t keep my readers reading or that any of the other short story erotica writers aren’t keeping their readers reading. It’s the fact that their books are only supposed to be so many words long. I currently have 17 books. It doesn’t take that long for any individual person to get through that many erotica stories.

Link to the rest at CBCRadio and thanks to Cora for the tip.

Writers Are Going Cuckoo For KU

6 July 2015

From TechCrunch:

If you haven’t been following the Indie writing market I don’t blame you. It’s pretty crazy right now. After Amazon decided to tweak the royalties payouts to reflect how much readers actually read the books they downloaded as part of the Kindle Unlimited service writers have gone into an absolute tizzy over what’s fair and not fair and what it means to get paid for writing.

First, a bit of background. Kindle Unlimited, as you know, is essentially Amazon’s all-you-can eat digital service. If you subscribe to it you get access to thousands of ebooks for free as long as they are part of KDP Select, a service that Amazon offers authors. KDP Select isn’t amazingly valuable but it does allow you to “give away” your book for a brief period – a trick that used to get Indie fiction to the top of Amazon’s bestseller lists (but no longer) – and set up pre-orders. I’ve gone back and forth about the service but now my books are part of it.

KU also has a pool of cash that it pays out to writers. Right now that pool is about $11 million. This means that popular authors get a lot of that money and everyone else gets a little – a long as someone reads you. But the news that is leading is that Amazon is paying Indie authors $0.006 per page read on the Kindle which sounds far worse.

This means many Indie authors are losing money now but a few aren’t. That’s the bottom line. There are two ways to make money in Indie publishing and neither of them are lucrative for the long tail. First you can write one or two amazing, long books and hope people buy them. Let’s call this the Wool model. Then there is the equally enticing Write, Publish, Repeat model that encourages writers to upload lots of small chapters and give them out for free via KU. As I’ve noted before, both of these models are potentially lucrative as long as the quality is there. However, if you subscribe to the W,P,R model, the fact that your “books” are 10 pages long will hurt you in the new KU market.

. . . .

Ultimately, writers need to face the sad (or, for some, happy) fact that Amazon is changing the way books are sold. Whereas the old method of proposal, advance, distribution, and substandard PR push has worked for most of this century, it was always inefficient. Publishers never knew what would sell, distributors didn’t care what sold, and PR people didn’t know how to sell more. Now that all of this work is in our hands I find it empowering and a bit frightening.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to JR for the tip

Yes, once more Amazon is “screwing” authors: Set to pay them .006 per page

4 July 2015

From author Bob Mayer:

The amount of misinformation and disingenuous commentary on the Internet is exceeded only by the self-interest.

A group of authors who write shorter works are claiming they’re being discriminated against because Amazon has shifted payment in Kindle Unlimited from titles borrowed to pages read. Imagine? I don’t seem to recall a single one of those authors crying out about getting paid the same amount for a fifty-page book as the author who has published a four hundred page book. If I missed your blog about this, please let me know in the comments section.

And apparently, according to this article in theGuardian, the authors who wrote these shorter works are: “A lot of self-published romance authors are disabled, stay-at-home mums, or even a few returned veterans who work in the field because a regular job just isn’t something they can handle,” she says. “People are shedding a lot of tears over this.”

So writing is not a regular job? (And don’t get Jen going on the ‘stay at home mum’ thing.) I have no doubt that quite a few authors relying on this have issues. And that the change is hurting many. But last I checked Amazon, and almost every other company I can think of, isn’t in the business of developing their business model to do anything other than succeed. And for those who think I’m an Amazon apologist, please read my other blogs. I always recommend anyone doing business, even as a customer, with Amazon, read The Everything Store. My takeaway from that was that Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos isn’t in it to make a lot of money; he’s in it to win. And that indeed is dangerous to any who do business with Amazon. But that’s the reality.

. . . .

In Special Forces we were taught winning was everything, so I understand that mindset to an extent. Because losing in that line of work had far deeper repercussions.

Here’s more reality: Kindle Unlimited is voluntary. Let’s accept one fact: a lot of people jumped on board with this because they were gaming the system. Knocking out a lot of short works to gain an inordinate payment under the old system.

But overall, authors who wrote full length novels were actually getting screwed. If I’d wanted to game the system, I should have focused on writing five 20,000 words stories (earning $6.60 if all are borrowed) rather than one 100,000 page book (earning only $1.32 if borrowed). Under Kindle Unlimited my income would have been five times what it is. Under the new system, my income is more, as long as those pages get read. Yes, the caveat of quality.

Link to the rest at Write on the River

Here’s a link to Bob Mayer’s books

Are Authors Leaving Kindle Unlimited?

4 July 2015

From author Chris McMullen:

With the July 1, 2015 changes to Kindle Unlimited comes much anxiety among KDP Select authors.

But before you press your PANIC button, maybe you should consider this novel idea: Check the numbers.

That’s exactly what I did, and you can, too:

  • Visit Amazon’s homepage.
  • Hover your mouse over Shop by Department, then hover over Books, and select Kindle Books.
  • See the number listed with the Kindle Unlimited filter.
  • Click the Kindle Unlimited filter. Now check the numbers in the categories.
  • Copy/paste the numbers of interest into Microsoft Word, for example.

I did that on July 1, and I’ve done that periodically for several months so that I can compare the numbers.

There is a lot of talk about authors possibly leaving Kindle Unlimited, but you don’t have to guess. The data is in plain sight.

. . . .

There were about a million books in Kindle Unlimited heading into July, and there are approximately 1,015,000 today (July 3). Of course, this figure is constantly changing.

It’s gone down by about 4,000 (out of over 1,000,000) since July 1. That’s 0.4%. A few authors are taking advantage of the early opt-out opportunity, but 0.4% doesn’t constitute a mass exodus.

In comparison, over 40,000 books were added to Kindle Unlimited in the past 30 days, and the overall number of 1,000,000 is way up from 600,000 when Kindle Unlimited made its debut one year ago. Throughout the program, KDP Select books have had a 95% (or greater) renewal rate, and overall number of participating books has steadily grown every month.

. . . .

With the Kindle Unlimited policy change comes concern:

  • What if a huge number of books pull out of KDP Select?
  • What if a huge number of books pull out of the children’s, erotica, or other categories?
  • What if subscribers cancel their Kindle Unlimited subscriptions because they can’t find the books they want?

These are valid concerns. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You should keep an eye on the numbers. Then you won’t have to guess or worry. You’ll know.

If any of those things happen, you can be aware of it, plan for it, react to it.

So far, they haven’t happened, so you don’t need to pull the plug prematurely on your own books.

What if the number of books in Kindle Unlimited stays roughly the same? What if the number of subscribers remains roughly the same?

What if you earn more money with the policy change than you had been?

You should plan for these cases, too.

Link to the rest at Chris McMullen and thanks to Bill for the tip.

Here’s a link to Chris McMullen’s books

Amazon set to pay self-published authors as little as $0.006 per page read

2 July 2015

From The Guardian:

Self-published authors could be paid as little as $0.006 per page read under new rules planned by Amazon.

Writers who make their works available through Amazon’s Kindle Owners Lending Library, and a similar service called Kindle Unlimited, will no longer be paid per copy downloaded following a move announced last week.

Instead, they would receive a payment based on how many pages had actually been read, with longer books receiving a higher potential payment than shorter works.

In an email to authors, sent on Wednesday, Amazon revealed exactly how little that payment would be.

The company said that customers of its two services read nearly 1.9bn pages in June, while it expected to pay at least $11m a month for June, July and August.

That means the payment per page read could be as low as $0.006, meaning that an author will have to write a 220-page book – and have every page read by every person downloading it – to make the same $1.30 they currently get from a book being downloaded.

Casey Lucas, a literary editor who works with self-publishing authors, says she has lost six clients already. They have decided to stop writing after “estimating a 60–80% reduction in royalties”.

“A lot of self-published romance authors are disabled, stay-at-home mums, or even a few returned veterans who work in the field because a regular job just isn’t something they can handle,” she says. “People are shedding a lot of tears over this.”

. . . .

Not every author will lose out, however. Since the overall amount paid out to writers is intended to remain the same, there will be winners – mainly those who write longer books that are read in full.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Dave and several others for the tip.

PG thinks a lot of the Amazon alarmists getting all caught up about the $.006 per-page headline and are not thinking through the numbers.

Here’s what an author receives for a 300 page book borrowed and read at $.006 per page:

$0.006   per page
300         pages
$1.80     received by author

Let’s compare this to the amount received by a traditionally-published author for a 300 page book sold by Amazon:
$9.99    e-book sales price on Amazon
70%      royalty rate to publisher
$6.99    received by publisher
25%      royalty rate to author
$1.75    paid to author’s agent
85%     received by author after agent deducts 15% fee
$1.49   amount received by author
$0.005 per page

Of course, the per-page payment to a traditionally-published author drops even further as the publisher-set sales price drops.

PG understands the concerns about pages read, but if a reader who borrows a KU book reads any pages, the author will receive a little something.

Additionally, PG suspects that borrows are much more of an impulse action than purchasing a book. If PG is correct, authors who would not have received any income from ebook sales to a reader or group of readers will earn something from the non-buying readers who borrow. At a minimum, if the borrowers read no pages, the author is in the same situation as if the borrower had never purchased the ebook.

If a reader buys an ebook from Amazon, either indie or traditionally-published, reads the entire book, then returns it within 7 days, the author receives no compensation at all. If the reader does this habitually, Amazon will eventually close the account, but a lot of zero-royalty reads will have taken place by that time.

Erotica Authors Pull-Out on Amazon KU

2 July 2015

From author Selena Kitt:

Erotica authors were impatiently waiting for July 1, for a look at the new dashboard and the opportunity for a glimpse into the Bezos crystal ball at what they might be paid for the month of July, when the Kindle Unlimited changes took place.

Looks like the numbers are (kind of) in… and the outlook is rather dismal. Erotica shorts authors knew it was going to be bad. I just don’t think most of them thought it was going to be quite *this* bad. Because it looks as if authors will be making about $0.0057 per page. That’s slightly less than half a penny a page, folks.

. . . .

But we’re erotica authors. We are the most versatile, adaptive and scrappy bunch of people I have ever known. And if Amazon thought we were going to take this lying down?

Bwahahahahahahahahahaha. Then they don’t know us very well!

Introducing the #releasetherate campaign

The objective is twofold:

1. Get Amazon to tell us how many people are borrowing our books, without which our page counts are utterly useless

2. Get Amazon to tell us how much they mean to pay us – NOW. IN ADVANCE. No more of this, “Enroll your books, choose to go exclusively with Amazon, and we’ll tell you later how much you’ll make” crap!

Link to the rest at Selena Kitt and thanks to Toni for the tip.

Here’s a link to Selena Kitt’s books

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