Penguin House pulling all titles from Unlimited Services
#1  leebase 01-21-2020, 12:29 PM

I see the value an "all you can read for $10/month" would be for some people. Particularly as my own reading has increased to a book a week or more from something closer to a book a month.

I've wondered about the economics, though. I mean...Amazon populates it's program from Amazon authors. You aren't getting Patterson, King or any big name authors.

Music publishers have not been thrilled with streaming. But with music, there has been rampant piracy that truly affected the bottom line. Streaming is a way to capture SOME of that money. And the business has changed to the concerts being where artists/bands make their money.

There is nothing like a concert for authors. The sale of the book is the point of making the money.

It's a saving grace for publishers that, apparently, only a certain 20% or so of the market reads eBooks. As long as people prefer paper books, distribution will rule the day and help keep a price level on books.

When you really have to compete on a level playing field with everyone's back list, with all of the off copyright books, with all of the indie authors selling their books for $1-$3....only the very largest authors will survive at today's price points.

#2  fjtorres 01-21-2020, 01:09 PM
Quote leebase
I mean...Amazon populates it's program from Amazon authors. You aren't getting Patterson, King or any big name authors.

Not to be nitpicky, but KINDLE UNLIMITED includes tradpubbed authors other than APub's authors. Rowling among them.

A lot of small press authors, including occasional best sellers, also show up. The reason is twofold: some books Amazon contracts and pays for outside the per-page payouts (Rowling), often at full wholesale; others sign up as promos, instead of doing permafree or $0.99 sales.

KU is at heart a promotion mechanism that pays a reduced price instead of charging. So putting in the first book in a series often results in full price sales for the sequels. In a market with over 5 million active titles there is value in playing in a smaller venue.

That is the reason for the lack of big name authors, who don't need to be discovered. It's a feature, not a bug. Amazon *salts* the KU catalog with a few recognizable names as context for trial users and new subscribers but the idea is to prop up the visibility of non-big names, not send more readers to authors everybody knows anyway.

Amazon isn't doing this out of kindness, they're doing it because there is money in feeding the habits of readers whose apetite for books is bigger than their budget. It is the same logic why some streaming services (Hulu, CW, Peacock, CBSAA, etc) offer both ad-supported and Ad-free tiers. Some people are willing to pay full price, even for stuff of unknown quality, while others will only sample the material if there is no downside. The value to subscribers isn't just in the books they finish but also in the bullets tbey dodge, books tbat appear promising but fail to deliver. Publishing has a long history of three-chapter wonders.

That is why most books on Amazon have LOOK INSIDE and downladable free samples, to give buyers an indication of what the book is like.

How much money Amazon makes off KU is up in the air but after five years of increasing payouts it is clear there is profit there. They are paying out over $300M a year so they have to be netting at least that much. Possibly much more. It might be a billion dollar business by now.

That's a few million subscribers, no matter how you guesstimate it.
Enough to entice Kobo and others to try to muscle in And for the bigger publishers to take notice.

So the rumor that the randy penguin is looking to start their own service isn't totally unlikely, especially if they really are focusing on audio.

Relying just on print distribution isn't growing their business any and they've intentionally capped ebook sales to protect print so tbey need to muster real some growth somewhere. Which is these moves by the penguin come in.

BTW, here's a more reliable source:

#3  pwalker8 01-21-2020, 01:39 PM
It's absurd to claim that Penguin intentionally capped ebook sales. Publishers will sale as many books - print, ebook and audio - that they can at the price points that they think will make them the most money. They just choose not to buy into Amazon's drive to commodity pricing.

KU has always been about mid-tier/bottom-tier authors salted with enough backlist books from name authors to entice readers to try it. I don't find it especially surprising that a major publisher would pull their books. More than anything, I'm surprised that a major publisher would have their books there in the first place. KU is indeed a niche market. Apparently the niche is big enough to make money. Good for them and good for the authors who are making money in that market space.

Even in the print market, publishers have had to deal with the discount bookstores and used bookstores. The saving grace for publishers is the rational behind their business model, i.e. sufficient customers are willing to pay top dollar for their favorite authors as soon as the book comes out rather than wait a year for the book to come out in paper. We see that in audiobook market where customers are quite willing to pay a premium for high quality audio books with high quality narrators. Music on the other hand, has long had to deal with free (i.e. radio). One sees the same difference in TV shows (consumers are use to free) verses movies. The question is does streaming movies gut the theater/DVD market. I doubt it does.

#4  binaryhermit 01-21-2020, 02:01 PM
I thought I read on a site that wasn't badereader that this was services other than KU. I don't think they were on KU.

#5  murraypaul 01-21-2020, 02:34 PM
There is nothing about Kindle Unlimited in the original article.

#6  leebase 01-21-2020, 03:45 PM
I think KU is simply the most well known. I don't see the benefit for any publisher of a "$10 a month for unlimited access to your catalogue".

Even if it was for only the publisher themselves. They might think "hey, $10 a month every month is a good deal compare to having to win their $14.99 purchase time and again".

BUT -- they way it would work is...

I'd sign up, read every book I'm interested in in the first month or two....then cut off the service. That's what I do with all the tv streaming services.

I pay for Netflix, I get Amazon Prime Video as a side benefit of Amazon Prime that I pay for anyway. Everything else, I'll wait for the show I want to watch to finish. Sign up for a month, binge, then quit. I do it with HBO over and over. Heck, I get that free month trial with HBO such that I don't even pay for the one month I take to watch the show I wanted.

#7  binaryhermit 01-21-2020, 04:00 PM
Quote murraypaul
There is nothing about Kindle Unlimited in the original article.
if this was a reply to me,I was replying to pwalker8 appearing to talk about the Randy Penguin pulling their books from KU. but yeah.

#8  fjtorres 01-21-2020, 06:10 PM
Quote leebase

I'd sign up, read every book I'm interested in in the first month or two....then cut off the service. That's what I do with all the tv streaming services.
A lot of people do exactly that with KU.
It is factored into the service, just as most of the older streaming services factor in churning. In both worlds there are both churners and low-consumption subscribers. It is the same with gym subscriptions: not everybody uses it religiosly or bothers to cancel when they're not using it so it all averages out.

As things stand, the average across all subscribers on Scribd is in the 5-6 books per month range and KU is rumored to be about the same, which matches up with indie reports of average payouts of $1.80-$2.10 per full read. (That kind of payout is woefully inadequate to be split for everybody involved in tradpub but acceptable for Indies used to 70% of $3-5.)

"All you can eat" buffets work because not everybody consumes the same way. With books, there's a limit--eyeball hours--to how much a subscriber can consume and there are typically a lot more more moderate-consumers than voracious ones so it all averages out at the global level. People only have a fixed number of hours a week for reading and it will also vary according to season.

For big publishers putting out everything including top sellers won't pay but, given their massive catalogs, putting in a large subset--say older books with trickling sales--might. DC COMICS puts everything on their subscription service...a year after release.
It seems to be working.
Marvel simply puts everything but charges more. They seem quite happy.

Gaming subscriptions on XBOX and Playstation also seem to work, again by offering a large and varied but still limited catalog. Not everybody wants the absolute latest release.

So it isn't a given that a publisher-specific subscription service won't work given that the publisher can tweak what is offered, the number of checkouts, and tbe subscription price. Something like a service offering 6 checkouts for $20 a month might generate an average of $5 per full read and provide a positive cash flow.

With this particular rumor tbere is one word that needs clarifying: "streaming".
The proposed service might be for audiobooks and closer to Audible than to KU.

More info is needed.

#9  leebase 01-21-2020, 10:51 PM
In the music arena....”nobody is making money” on streaming. It’s a loss leader for Apple, Amazon and Google — and an investor's black hole for Spotify and Tidal.

Netflix had a money making streaming business...but what happens as all the others come online?

#10  fjtorres 01-22-2020, 08:10 AM
Quote leebase
In the music arena....”nobody is making money” on streaming. It’s a loss leader for Apple, Amazon and Google — and an investor's black hole for Spotify and Tidal.

Netflix had a money making streaming business...but what happens as all the others come online?
Music is...odd...
Main problem is the licensing fees are arbitrated so nobody is happy and everybody pretends they're losing money. I'd be wary of believing either side.

Netflix is making money hand over fist but, like Amazon, they spend it as soon as they get it. They are reportedly spending 5-6x what Disney and HBOMAX are spending on new content and debuting multiple new series as fast as others drop new episodes. And, unlike their US-centric competitors, they are acquiring and developing content worldwide.

So far, they are rolling merrily along:

There's an interesting viewership chart there.
Worth checking out. BTW, WITCHER is really really good. It does justice to the books.


In the past, Netflix has dismissed the threat of the streaming wars, pointing out that the company has grown pretty well even though it's been competing with streamers as well as traditional TV for over a decade. It reiterated that rhetoric Tuesday.

"This is happening all over the world and is still in its early stages, leaving ample room for many services to grow as linear TV wanes, Netflix said in its letter to shareholders. "We have a big head start."

Domestically, Netflix added 520,000 streaming customers, shy of its October guidance for 600,000.

Netflix's international subscriber base widened by 8.33 million members, beating the 7 million additions the company predicted. Broken down by market, it reported 4.42 million new members in Europe, Middle East and Africa; 2.04 million in Latin America; and 1.75 million in Asia Pacific.

Looking ahead to the first quarter, Netflix expects to add 550,000 streaming members in the US and Canada, it's biggest single market. (Again, it expects 7 million new subscribers in the next quarter worldwide, so most of the growth will come from overseas.)

Netflix also predicted $1.66 per share in earnings in the first quarter. On average, Wall Street analysts who track Netflix expected $1.21.

Overall in the latest period, Netflix reported a profit of $587 million, or $1.30 a share, compared with $133.9 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 31% to $5.47 billion. Analysts on average expected per-share profit of 52 cents -- compared with Netflix's guidance of 51 cents -- and $5.45 billion in revenue.
As they say, they have a big headstart.
(So does HBO. 150M+ subscribers.)
Plus, their content addresses all genres and all interests. D+ alone won't match them. That's why Disney is bundling it with Hulu in deals.

Long term, US-based paid streaming services will probably run NETFLIX, HBOMAX, DISNEY+Hulu, Prime, PEACOCK, CBSAA+Pluto. Plus the usual horde of wannabes and ad-supported playersm

All winners, to one degree or another.
The real losers are the cablecos and broadcast networks.

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