Amazon Unlimited Kindle Publishing Problems (things you need to be aware of if you publish)

This post is to make you aware of problems with Kindle’s Unlimited program.  These problems can be broken down into two categories.  The first problem is best exemplified by a change.org petitition.

In Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One, he states that many internet companies are monopolies that pretend they’re not to avoid regulatory scrutiny.  For example, Google pretends it isn’t a search engine monopoly.  Anyone who has worked on the web as long as I have knows this is malarky.  Google dominates about 90% of search traffic.  Bing, Yahoo, and other companies divide up the remaining 10%.

For all intents and purposes, if Google doesn’t list your content, your content doesn’t exist.  Google lies about this to avoid regulatory scrutiny.  Bing lies about this because they want to prop up their investors portfolio.  When I made this website, I stopped by Bing’s Webmaster Tools to take a look at them.  They’re so sad that it’s obvious Bing has given up the ghost.

The same applies to other large platforms.  YouTube is essentially the de facto place to find video content.  There are competitors like DailyMotion and Vimeo, but for all intents and purposes, most people only put videos on these sites to act as a backup against YouTube taking down their videos.  Several other websites have attempted to act as video content platforms, but most of them have failed and been closed down.

This is why the sometimes swarmy answer of “Just don’t put your eggs in one basket” is a terrible answer.  The reality is because of the de facto monopoly status of most of these companies, there isn’t any other basket to put your eggs in.  Plus it takes time to build up a base of followers and it takes time to submit to each of the different websites. If those websites go down, then that’s a lot of wasted time and effort.

The problem with these services is that companies have tried to avoid hiring humans and instead relied upon machine algorithms to look for abuse, or they’ve relied upon “report abuse” systems that have no oversight.  False DMCA takedowns are one of the most common tactics to suppress videos that are critical of a company, the most famous being Cool Cat Saves the Kids vs the Search for the Worst.

Even on my unknown YouTube channel, I’ve had people try to claim videos I’ve made.  The result is a toxic environment for a creator.  Trust me, there’s nothing worse than dealing with YouTube’s awful copyright system and its assumption of automatic guilt.

The same thing has happened on Facebook, Twitter, and most other social media platforms where people can be banned, have all their posts and information gone, and the company can’t be bothered to even state a reason why the ban occurred.  This has led to rampant abuse.

That brings us to Amazon Kindle Unlimited.  If you sign up for the program, then Amazon might ban you off of it for no reason.  There is a problem that they have to solve, and it’s that for every hundred or so pages someone reads off of Kindle Unlimited, the author receives a few cents.  So a clever person might decide to simply automate a bot that creates accounts, signs up for the free trial period, and then reads the books, skimming profits to the author and artificially boosting their rank.

Obviously, Amazon has to have some way of testing for this, but like all automated bot programs, it’s prone to mistakes and lacks any review mechanism.  So you might get banned for nothing you did.

The next problem is that when you sign up for Kindle Unlimited, you have to abide by Amazon restrictions.  This is part of the reason why the “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” quip is nonsense.  If you sign up for the program, all your eggs are in one basket.  End of discussion.

There are advantages to Kindle Unlimited, mostly that people who are on the fence about paying upfront for a novel can sample it first, and then decide if they like it.  By removing the upfront cost and making it into more of a buffet style, it encourages people to read more.  But stay connected to other authors and see what their experiences are with it.

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