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Why My Books Aren’t Available in Kindle Unlimited

Last month, I shared this text with my newsletter subscribers (Are you a member of that club yet? If not, sign up here and receive an ebook!), but I thought it would be good to make it a public post as well as I know Kindle Unlimited is an option many readers choose, and I’d like to explain the reasons behind my choice to not put my books in the program.

I never really told this story, so I thought it was the time I did.

It all started about twelve years ago, long before I published my first novel, By the Pact. I was living in Ireland at that time, taking the first steps to write in English, my second language, but I was already an avid reader in two languages. It started simple: a friend recommended a book to me. “You’ve got to read it,” they said. “You’re going to love it.”

Excited, I embarked on a hunt. It wasn’t available in print, but I didn’t mind. I had my shiny Nook e-reader, which I got for Christmas from my future husband, who lived in the US at the time. I’d get an ebook! But the book wasn’t available on my local bookstore’s website. It wasn’t available in British Waterstones either, where I could download the file I bought. It wasn’t on Kobo I shopped at from time to time. It wasn’t even on Smashwords or Weightless Books… It was only on Amazon, and I couldn’t easily download a file from there to put it on my own e-reader.

I was gutted. I wanted to buy and read that book, and I couldn’t.

This memory and this feeling were some of the deciding factors when I was publishing my first book, By the Pact. I didn’t want any reader to feel the same disappointment when they got excited about my books and then learn they couldn’t get them. I wanted for my books to be everywhere, so that my readers could buy them conveniently where they shopped.

But, you might ask, does this not include Kindle Unlimited? It sure does, except… To be part of the program, Amazon requires exclusivity from indie authors (traditional publishers have different rules). Which means no Barnes and Noble, no Kobo, no Apple, no Google Play, no Smashwords… No libraries either. To put my books in there, I’d have to take them out from everywhere else, and that was not the option.

I want to serve all my readers, and I want to give them as many choices as possible.

It means that you can shop for my books in many stores, big and small: any place that would accept indie publishers. It means they are available through alternative subscription programs like Scribd and Kobo Plus (which just entered US and UK markets!). It also means that you can request them from your local library (including ebooks) if your budget is tight. It also means fair discounts for everyone. Have you ever been disappointed about a 0.99 deal only to discover it wasn’t available in your country? KU authors would tell you that the Kindle Countdown Deals are available only in the US and the UK, so they can’t do anything about it. What they don’t tell you is that they could manually lower the prices in all territories which is what I and other “wide” authors do—they don’t, because if they did, Amazon would give them the same lower royalty rate it offers non-exclusive authors at 0.99 deals.

As I said, I want to serve all my readers, no matter where in the world they are. I want to make things as convenient for them as possible. And if KU didn’t require exclusivity, I’d put my books there too, since this would mean yet another option for everyone. But Amazon has its rules, and thus my books aren’t in KU—though, of course, you can still buy them from their store, because this isn’t about boycotts. It’s about my readers having a choice.

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

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