I grew up going to the library, because my family couldn’t afford my reading habit. Each week, I would leave with a stack of books, and I remember feeling like I was robbing the place. I couldn’t believe they let me just walk out with all those books! I had no concept of who was getting paid or how, or that authors were even people like my mom and dad. I just wanted books to read and lots of them. Libraries are still one of the best places to get your fix, but of course they are limited to the number of copies on-hand.
So I know what it’s like to have limited funds for reading and a voracious appetite. Believe me I know what that’s like. Just yesterday, I asked for reading suggestions on Facebook and had several hundred responses. I made a list and went shopping. Any ebook over $9.99, I skipped. Any ebook that was in the Kindle Unlimited program, I put on my TBR pile. This is how I shop for ebooks these days.
Yesterday, I had a reader Tweet that it was a “$5 Hugh Howey day,” and it gave me a twinge of guilt. I’ve released a lot of short stories lately, and I’ve been pricing things at 99 cents to keep the cost to you down, but it can still add up. Ever since I released my first story, I’ve been all about keeping my prices low to aid in discovery and make sure everyone can afford my ebooks. I’ve always been an advocate of pirating my ebooks (not those of others!) as a way to sample my works for free or read them first and pay later when you can. My old website had a button specifically for that, and people used it practically every day.
I think Kindle Unlimited provides an even easier solution to these problems. I’ve been a subscriber from day 1, and I’ve always gotten my money’s worth. It is $10 a month, and not everyone can afford another monthly bill, but if you read a lot, you will save money. My hope is that readers who enjoy my work and are reading a lot of other great stories will be able to read everything I publish for “free.” All of my novels and stories are now in Kindle Unlimited. I love the program as a reader. I’ve used the program for my short stories as an author. Now I’ve got my novels in the program as well.
If you are an avid reader, I highly recommend checking the program out. I’ll even gift five of you a six-month subscription to the program, which costs nearly $60. You can cancel before they start charging you. Just leave a comment below telling me what you remember about reading as a child, or what it’s like these days trying to get your book fix. Or tell me about your dog eating your favorite paperback. I’ll pick five comments that I like, and I’ll email you a six-month, fully paid, Kindle Unlimited subscription. You’ll love it, I promise. Just make sure you use a valid email when you comment (no one should see it but me).
If you don’t have a dedicated ereader, don’t worry. Kindle ebooks can be read on pretty much anything with a screen. There are apps for your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and PC. But if you are an avid reader, I can’t recommend a Kindle highly enough. You will read more with an ereader. You’ll be able to order ebooks anytime and anywhere. The battery lasts forever. The screen is easy on the eyes (especially since they just upgraded the new Paperwhite screen to the same one that’s in the incredible Voyage!). Plus, you can look up words, highlight your ebooks, and have access to every purchase ever made.
Ebooks have changed the way I read. Kindle Unlimited has changed the way I shop for ebooks. I’m reading more than ever and loving it as much as when I was a kid, raiding my public library with my parents.
(Edited to add: Holy heck, your comments are moving me to tears. Which makes me an irrational spender. No way will 5 gift subscriptions be enough. Expect more. Thanks for sharing, everyone.)
As a reader, the above is all you need to know. Now a note for any of you who are writers as well.
I’ve been ruminating on the pros and cons of KDP Select and Amazon exclusivity for years, going back to late 2010, in fact. When I started self-publishing, many of my ebooks launched through KDP Select. Those free days were so valuable, and I loved the extra visibility. There’s a blog post here with my thoughts on being exclusive to one retailer or the other. You can see that I’ve wrestled with this decision for a long time. I remember a blog post back in 2011 about my decision to pull out of KDP Select and publish on B&N’s new Nook platform, and how difficult that was for me to do. These decisions are never easy. The great thing is that they aren’t permanent.
I’m keen to see what the next 90 days bring. I’ll share my findings. And I’ll keep wrestling with these pros and cons. The landscape changes every day, and I try to be open to changing with them. My gut tells me that right now, I can reach more readers by being exclusive than I could by being wide. This would be like realizing I could reach twenty million readers in the state of New York or one million around the globe. Which is the right call? In which call are we truly ignoring borders and boundaries? In which one am I limiting myself?
Like many of you, the exclusivity requirement for KDP Select is hard to accept. Like you, I wish I could get all that KDP Select offers in incentives, but without having to pay the cost of membership. Getting something for nothing is always a great idea when you can legally get away with it. But membership is a choice, one each author should make for him or herself, and what’s right for one author won’t be for another. It might not even end up being the best choice for me! But I think it’s the best for my readers; I think the Kindle platform is the absolute best for reading; and I think concentrating my works there is not only the best way to grow my readership, but to grow the marketplace for ebooks and ereading in general.