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kindle unlimited and libraries

 
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There's a lively conversation going on in the NY Times comments about the Kindle Unlimited program. The idea is you pay $10/month for a much as you want to read (like Spotify, but for books.) Much of the conversation is about quantity vs quality and whether the authors get paid enough. (Mostly from the point of self published fiction writers who are trying to write as their full time.)

One person made a comment asking if people objecting to Kindle Unlimited also object to libraries. I don't have an opinion on Kindle Unlimited, but I do have a strong opinion on libraries. I love my local libraries. I enjoy curling up with a paper book. And I don't want to own every book I read. I made a comment once if there was a Blockbuster for physical books, I'd be a member. The library is free*

One of the objections to the library is that it "doesn't help the authors." I don't get this. The library paid for its copies. How is this any different than me buying a copy and selling it as soon as I am done. Or me buying a used a copy. I keep my computer books for reference. I keep very few novels or other books. Even a series I bought (because the library doesn't own it), I'm giving away when I'm done.


* I donate to my local library systems, so it isn't quite free. But that is voluntary.
 
Marshal
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My eyes have long progressed passed the point where reading physical books is comfortable, so I read novels and technical books on my Kindle(s), iPad(s) and laptop(s).

I do not use Kindle Unlimited as I am an Amazon Prime member and have access to the Kindle Library (separate from Unlimited), which I have used occasionally, but mostly I buy my ebooks.

I have no issue with the concept of a library of any kind -- they've been around for a long long time and I spent the majority of my time as a youth in the Dracut Public Library. I credit it with my love of reading and for getting me to where I am today.

As an author, even if the fact that libraries mean that multiple people can read my books without "paying" for them by borrowing them from a library, I think that pales in comparison to the "revenue" lost via piracy.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Good point on piracy. I wouldn't steal a book sp I think the part where the library bought that copy matters.

While I prefer paper books for other reasons, they've always been more ammenable to sharing. I have a copy of Bear's "jQuery in Action" on my desk. I've leant it to a number of collegues over time. (Can't do that with an e-book). At least two of whom bought their own copy after sampling mine.
 
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You download a pirated book - Author gets ~0% of his share of the money and ~100% of popularity
You buy a book/ebook outright - Author gets ~100% of his share of the money and ~0% of popularity

Everything else such as renting, reading from library, sharing with friends, lies somewhere in between the above two extremes. I don't consider libraries or kindle unlimited or any such distribution channel good or bad as long as the authors are able to decide where exactly they want to place their content. Indeed, some content providers make their content freely available while some providers are so secretive they don't even let you download their product manuals unless you can prove that you own the product. Both are fine.


I believe it is bad when the author is sidelined and other "well wishers" (read publishers, retainers, distributors) decide where an author's content should be placed. My understanding is that some kindle programs force authors to permit lending/sharing of their books or make it available to members of Prime or Unlimited members. Of course, this force is often disguised as "you must enable this to get 70% royalty otherwise you get 30%". (off track - I was very disappointed with how the recent Apple/publishers antitrust case went. I thought Apple was right and Amazon was being the bully.)

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:One of the objections to the library is that it "doesn't help the authors." I don't get this. The library paid for its copies. How is this any different than me buying a copy and selling it as soon as I am done.


I agree. I don't see any difference. At the same time it is same as piracy if the author didn't want his book to be in a library or to be resold.

Anyway, I guess programs like Kindle unlimited or KOLL are very good for authors who can start dumping text after their morning cup of coffee.

I also don't like the fact that fiction and technical books are treated alike for revenue computation. A fiction can potentially keep selling for a hundred years. So there is a lot of leeway on pricing. While a technical book has a very short shelf life. Applying the same model on both is like applying the same model on a stock tip and a "how to buy stocks" book. You can't "lend" a stock tip! This basically ties back to what I said above. The author should be able to decide where he wants to place his content.
 
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In Canada, and other countries, authors do get compensated for having their books in public libraries. There's a program for that. Here's a link to its FAQ: http://plr-dpp.ca/PLR/faq.aspx
 
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Amazon does a lot of weird stuff. I am looking at a book where the leather bound hardback is $59.99. The Kindle ebook is $82.99.

How does that make sense to anyone?
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Paul Clapham wrote:In Canada, and other countries, authors do get compensated for having their books in public libraries. There's a program for that. Here's a link to its FAQ: http://plr-dpp.ca/PLR/faq.aspx


Neat!

fred rosenberger wrote:Amazon does a lot of weird stuff. I am looking at a book where the leather bound hardback is $59.99. The Kindle ebook is $82.99.

How does that make sense to anyone?


Was the hardback used?

Paul Anilprem wrote:I agree. I don't see any difference. At the same time it is same as piracy if the author didn't want his book to be in a library or to be resold.


How would an author opt out of a library? Go e-book only with a ban on content redistribution?
 
Paul Anilprem
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Paul Clapham wrote:
In Canada, and other countries, authors do get compensated for having their books in public libraries. There's a program for that. Here's a link to its FAQ: http://plr-dpp.ca/PLR/faq.aspx


Cool.

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:

Paul Anilprem wrote:I agree. I don't see any difference. At the same time it is same as piracy if the author didn't want his book to be in a library or to be resold.


How would an author opt out of a library? Go e-book only with a ban on content redistribution?


Doesn't look like they can in the present scenario with physical books. Obviously, they can't opt out of reselling either. Yes, e-book with drm seems to be the only way to go.
BTW, I am not saying that authors do not or should not want to have their books in the library. In fact, I am guessing most authors would want to have their books in the library.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Paul Anilprem wrote: In fact, I am guessing most authors would want to have their books in the library.


Agreed. I can't think of a reason an author wouldn't either. But since you posed it, that became a thought experiment...
 
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:

Paul Anilprem wrote: In fact, I am guessing most authors would want to have their books in the library.


Agreed. I can't think of a reason an author wouldn't either. But since you posed it, that became a thought experiment...


It would probably be easy enough to publish books with some kind of restriction on use, as they do with DVDs - your home-viewing licence for a regular DVD does not allow you to show it in public or for profit, and copies for rental are sold separately - but as you all say, I can't imagine why any authors would want to stop people reading their books.
 
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:

One of the objections to the library is that it "doesn't help the authors." I don't get this. The library paid for its copies. How is this any different than me buying a copy and selling it as soon as I am done. Or me buying a used a copy. I keep my computer books for reference. I keep very few novels or other books. Even a series I bought (because the library doesn't own it), I'm giving away when I'm done.


* I donate to my local library systems, so it isn't quite free. But that is voluntary.



I agree - I have no problems with libraries. In fact, we should support them because more and more people - esp those who cannot afford to purchase books - can read. It promotes reading.

When it comes to owning books, I only buy those books that I think should be read over and over. For others, I go to the library. There are a LOT of books that I read over and over, so I still have a big collection of books.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Lucetta Pryor wrote:When it comes to owning books, I only buy those books that I think should be read over and over. For others, I go to the library. There are a LOT of books that I read over and over, so I still have a big collection of books.




I also find I read library books faster. Because they are due back. When I own a book, it is lower on the queue. (The books I get for free in exchange for a review are still at the top of the list because I feel I should do those on a timely basis.)
 
fred rosenberger
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:

fred rosenberger wrote:Amazon does a lot of weird stuff. I am looking at a book where the leather bound hardback is $59.99. The Kindle ebook is $82.99.

How does that make sense to anyone?


Was the hardback used?


Nope: book
 
chris webster
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fred rosenberger wrote:

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:

fred rosenberger wrote:Amazon does a lot of weird stuff. I am looking at a book where the leather bound hardback is $59.99. The Kindle ebook is $82.99.

How does that make sense to anyone?


Was the hardback used?


Nope: book


There's a certain delightful irony in the fact that Amazon's invisible hand is apparently setting crazy prices for a book by a firm believer in the sanctity of the free market.
 
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chris webster wrote:

fred rosenberger wrote:

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:

fred rosenberger wrote:Amazon does a lot of weird stuff. I am looking at a book where the leather bound hardback is $59.99. The Kindle ebook is $82.99.

How does that make sense to anyone?


Was the hardback used?


Nope: book


There's a certain delightful irony in the fact that Amazon's invisible hand is apparently setting crazy prices for a book by a firm believer in the sanctity of the free market.



Fred, it looks like the kindle version is a new edition , possibly a whole new translation. The leather book is a special binding of an older edition.
 
margaret gillon
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
One of the objections to the library is that it "doesn't help the authors." I don't get this. The library paid for its copies. How is this any different than me buying a copy and selling it as soon as I am done. Or me buying a used a copy. I keep my computer books for reference. I keep very few novels or other books. Even a series I bought (because the library doesn't own it), I'm giving away when I'm done.



In publishing authors are usually paid royalties based on number of books sold. Since there is no sale in kindle unlimited, or prime, I don't think a royalty is paid. Publishers control distribution rights so the publisher would decide if the kindle edition was speech enabled or can be loaned. Authors self-publishing may be pushed to be involved. Amazon can be heavy handed. When I was a book publisher I took a loss on books I sold on Amazon but I sold books there so people could find the author and hopefully, next sale, buy from a store that took less of a fee.

The library question is an old debate. An author gets huge exposure when a library buys their book and the book finds new readers. But does the library owning a copy stop someone from buying it instead so losing the author sales? If 100 people get the book at the library the author has lost royalties on 99 books.

I have many friends that will buy the new book because they don't want to wait months for the library book. I think the exposure in the library outweighs the possible lost sales.

The Canadian PLR program is great. It would be nice if other countries did the same.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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margaret gillon wrote:But does the library owning a copy stop someone from buying it instead so losing the author sales? If 100 people get the book at the library the author has lost royalties on 99 books.


Only if they would have bought the book.
 
margaret gillon
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Only if they would have bought the book.



Exactly!

I don't think the library buying the book changes buying patterns of readers. Like you I use my library quite a bit and only spend dollars on things I go back to.

Another thing about libraries, they work hard to support small publishers. I had librarians that had budgets for special collections. They would use the budget to buy from presses like mine. It helped us to get that kind of support and exposure at some of the universities they represented.
 
fred rosenberger
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I check out many books from the library I would never, ever, buy. But if I find an author I like, i'll read everything I can find of theirs. That encourages the library to buy more of their books. I couldn't say if there is a net gain or a net loss...but let's not forget all the books libraries buy that nobody ever reads...or could buy. I know the concept of paper encyclopedias is dead, but for years libraries were about the ONLY customers for such books. I'm sure there are other examples...technical books that few people buy, but many can check out?
 
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