About six months back I broke the news that a number of smaller publishers had followed indie authors into signing up for Kindle Unlimited, and were being paid by the page. Now it seems Amazon is looking to grow that number.
The Bookseller has a piece up this morning which makes the bold claim that Amazon is on a charm offensive. The retailer is trying to recruit book publishers into Kindle Unlimited:
Representatives from Amazon’s US and UK Kindle teams held meetings with three major agency publishers and a group of prominent agents last week in a bid to encourage them to sign their authors’ titles up to Kindle Unlimited (KU).
The Bookseller understands David Naggar, vice-president of Kindle Content for Amazon.com, along with other Amazon representatives from its US and European operations— including Alessio Santarelli, Kindle’s director, EU Content Store, and Amy Worth, director, Kindle Content, UK—gave presentations at Penguin Random House (PRH), HarperCollins (HC) and Hachette, and to a group of Independent Alliance publishers.
The sessions, described by Amazon as an “all hands” meeting, concluded on Friday with a presentation to around 25 literary agents.
The meetings were attended by around 100 people at each major publisher from sales, editorial and marketing departments, including sernior executives.
While the talks covered the success of a range of Amazon’s e-book promotions, such as its Daily Deals, according to multiple sources the whole presentation was a pitch for KU, Amazon’s e-book subscription service.
It's not clear what terms Amazon is offering to the publishers, but The Bookseller said that "Amazon is willing to be flexible on terms for publishers if they sign up to the service".
But given that the piece also said that "the royalties authors earn if their book is downloaded from KU are the same as if it were a direct sale through the Kindle store", I'm not sure we can trust that the specific details are accurate.
If Amazon were going to pay the publishers at the same rate as for the retail part of the Kindle Store then there would be no need to "recruit" them. Amazon would simply use its existing contracts to add the titles to Kindle unlimited, and then pay based on those contracts.
A select few publishers have been getting the favorable terms since before Kindle Unlimited launched, at Amazon's discretion, while most have submitted their titles and accepted the same terms as offered to indie authors (exclusivity, a per-page payout, and a split of the limited monthly funding pool).
If Amazon is actively recruiting publishers then the retailer is trying to get them to accept the same terms as indie authors.
I wish Amazon luck with that. Given the current problems with scammers cheating the funding pool, publishers would be advised to stay away until after Amazon has fixed the problem.
In fact, that would have been my number one question in those meetings. Kindle Unlimited has a fundamental flaw in its security, and Amazon needs to fix it.
It's a shame we don't know if anyone asked Amazon, or how it responded. Now that would be newsworthy.
image by ToGa Wanderings