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article imageOp-Ed: Want to be an author? Beware Amazon's 'Kindle unlimited'

By Calvin Wolf     Jul 16, 2014 in Entertainment
Amazon.com may soon offer a new "Kindle Unlimited" subscription service for $9.99 per month that gives subscribers unlimited access to over 600,000 titles. What does this mean for new authors?
Writers who are considering finally penning that epic tome and trying to publish the next great American novel should be wary of possible changes in the writing landscape. Since the dawn of the ebook, online news sites, and webcomics, things have become far more competitive for struggling writers, artists, and cartoonists looking to break into the business. The convenience of modern technology has made it harder for talented newcomers to stand out from the pack. For example, in the mid-2000s I drew a comic strip at my college and actively pursued syndication, hoping to make it into newspapers nationwide. Though I felt confident that my material could go the distance, I knew that it was just one drop among a sea of webcomics.
My comic strip never did get picked up. I finished grad school, my comic strip ended, and I moved on to other endeavors. My comic strip lives on as a digital zombie, frozen in the Great Recession.
After my comic strip petered out I became a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. I am trying to get a trio of completed novels into bookstores and am worried that a new evolution in books and book sales may make things difficult for new authors: According to Gigaom, Amazon may soon offer a new subscription service called "Kindle Unlimited" that allows subscribers unlimited access to over 600,000 titles for only $9.99 per month.
If big publishers and big authors get signed up with Kindle Unlimited, will there be much of a market for new authors? With the $9.99 per month being considered a sunk cost, will subscribers no longer look for lower-priced books by non-famous authors? Even if new writers offer their novels for comparative steals, will they be overlooked because Kindle Unlimited subscribers can get unlimited books from "major league" authors for a flat monthly fee? Many subscribers may decide not to take a chance on that new release from a rookie writer when they can get any title from Stephen King, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, or Dan Brown for the same price.
The principle is the same one that doomed many local journalists, editorialists, and cartoonists following the rise of digitized syndication: Why pay a local writer when, for a comparable fee, you can get a known, nationwide writer filling up that space? Just as local diners fell out of favor with the rise of national fast food chains, local journalists, editorialists, and cartoonists fell out of favor with the rise of convenient syndication. The same thing may happen with new authors as unlimited subscription services make it easier to go with the "franchise" author rather than the "local diner" author.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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