......and not a very good one from a writer's point of view, either.
So, Kindle Unlimited, right? Readers know that they can read/listen to audio books for free for just £7.99 a month, and writers know that instead of (some) sales on their monthly download report, they're getting KU Units, which may or may not financially equal a sale, I haven't a clue, I've never got round to looking. What happens is that you get one unit if the reader reads past 10%, I think, and more if they carry on reading. I can't be bothered to work out the sales vs KU units, I really can't; I just look at the units and think "oh good, they liked 'em enough to carry on reading", and that's all.
In our household we are signed up for Kindle Unlimited. My husband decided it was a good idea as he listens to lots of audio books, and I buy too many Kindle books. It's only recently that something's occurred to me, as a reader and purchaser, that must affect us chaps sitting on the other side, too, ie, the writers.
If I've talked to a writer a little (usually on Twitter) and I fancy their book, I generally buy it, not because I think they need my £1.50, but because every sale is good for their Amazon visibility and maybe more so than a KU download (I don't know if it is or not, please don't tell me!). Those I buy on KU are usually the other ones I fancy (say, that I've read about on a book blog post, or seen on an Amazon browse).
Like most people, I have a Kindlefull of books, some of which I will look at within the next few months, some not for a year or more.
Kindle Unlimited is not actually unlimited at all, of course; you can only have 10 books out at a time.
As the months have gone on, this is what I have noticed. When I see a book I fancy, I will go to download it on KU. At this point, Amazon will tell me that I have to return one book before I can do so. It shows me my list of ten books I currently have on the KU facility. To download, I must return one. Now, this is the key thing that affects all people who publish on Amazon, whose books are on KU....
...like many people (I imagine), I look at so many books that sometimes, dare I say it, I don't always remember exactly what it was about one in particular that appealed to me. But, oh, I've just seen another one I really, really want to read. So in order to download Book A I might give Book B back unread. Intending to get it again some time, you know? It might be that intelligent looking post apocalyptic thriller that I spotted when I was looking at Kate Mary or Dylan Morgan's books. That edgy contemporary drama I read about on A Woman's Wisdom. Back it will float into the huge, gaping and seemingly limitless vault that is Amazon, never to be seen again. Never to be read, never to be followed up by its follow up.
If I had bought it, though, like in the olden days before KU, it would have remained on my Kindle. I would have thought, hmm, nice cover, interesting title, I'll have a look, at some point that year. I might have loved it. Reviewed it favourably. The author might have been someone I recommended to others, etc etc etc.
Example: I downloaded Dylan Morgan's The Dead Lands soon after it was published. It wasn't an immediate 'go to' book; I thought I might not like it as the description included the dreaded words science fiction. I had it for about eight months before opening it, at which point it blew me away. I am now a big fan. Had I downloaded it on KU, it might have been rejected in favour of another, and lost forever.
If this is what I, a fairly average Amazon customer, am doing, you can bet that a hell of a lot of others are doing so, too.