Why KU is killing ebooks

A reader has a theory:

1. Ebooks are introduced, everyone who reads gets a Kindle or reader, and fills it up. Many books are free and classics. The problem is that there are more books than you can read in a lifetime.

2. KU shows up. The Super-Readers end up on KU as for the money it is the best deal going. Books become a complete commodity on it. 

3. Regular, but not super readers still have too many eBooks to ever read but still pick up a few. 

4. So many forms of entertainment exist from on-demand videos, YouTube, Twitch, games, the world is filled with immediately accessible amusements. Reading slackens for Regular Readers. 

5. KU continues to grow, and more and more Super Readers flock to it, causing a drop in regular eBook sales.

6. Regular Readers realize the ephemeral nature of eBooks. There’s nothing to pass on, nothing to see or savor like the printed page and they don’t have the time nor inclination to read dozens of books a month like the Super Readers. (I stopped using an eBible and no only take notes in a printed one)

7. Regular Readers instead opt to buy printed books for the ones they truly love. They can pass on hardback, leather bound, and beautiful books which stand the test of time. Pulp Fiction and casual reading are left to the occasional eBook. 

8. Super Readers continue to devour KU.

I did an analysis of our ebook sales and was surprised to discover that with 7 exceptions, Kindle Unlimited is simply not worth it even without taking potential non-Amazon sales into account. So, we’re going to be removing most of our books from KU and returning them to the Castalia House store over the next three months. By the start of the new year, most of our books will be available from all the major ebook platforms as well as our online store.

Remember, every dollar in the KU pool represents about THREE dollars removed from the ebook sales pool. And because the overall market is not growing, it is a zero-sum game.

We’re also going to reduce the number of new fiction authors we publish. Because repeated experiments have demonstrated that even the very best-selling KU novelists don’t sell very well in print, and because the success of KU puts us in a catch-22 situation with them regardless of whether they sell well through us or not, we are going to focus our efforts on strategic properties that we create, own and develop rather than those that we merely publish.

Because non-fiction a) sells well in print and b) is not popular on KU, our non-fiction publishing will continue without any change in focus or strategy.


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