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What the New Kindle Unlimited Payment System Means for the Future of Humanity

I came across this the other day and found it so fascinating I just had to write about it.

First, a quick recap for those who aren’t familiar with the Kindle Unlimited situation:

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription-based program that allows you instant access to an ocean of digital books. All you need to do is borrow books in order to read them. You don’t have to buy books that are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, just click “Borrow.” A virtual virtual library at your fingertips!

You, as a reader, only need to pay a measly $9.99 per month to subscribe to this plethora of digital pages, and you can cozy up by the fireplace with your digital romance novels for the rest of your life without ever having to purchase a single one…

DeathtoStock_Medium4To incentivize Kindle-published authors into enrolling in this program, Amazon has set up a multimillion-dollar fund to pay authors for every book that was digitally borrowed.

After July 1st, though, Amazon is making an interesting change…

Instead of being paid per borrow, authors will be paid based on the number of pages people actually read. According to Amazon, they will divide the KDP Select Global Fund by the total number of pages read, rather than by the total number of qualified borrows.

So if one of those borrow-crazy readers only reads one page of your book, you’ll be paid for that page alone. But if an avid fan reads your entire trilogy all the way through, you’ll get paid for all those pages.

Here’s the main reason why this could be a good thing:

Authors will be compensated on the quality of their work, rather than the quality of their book cover or the impulses of borrow-crazy Kindle owners.

Amazon claims this is the reason for the change. Well, not so much the book cover part…but the fact that authors wanted to “align the payout with the length of books.” Before this change, payouts took place when users read 10% of any Kindle title, and the payouts for 2,000-word short stories would be the same as for 200,000-word mega-novels.

On the surface, it may seem that this change will reward novelists and hurt short story writers. But as one Kindle author pointed out, there are plenty of very good, very prolific short story writers out there. Obviously, there are plenty of complex factors at play, such as the size of your genre, how many titles you’ve released, how big your following is, how good your writing is, and so on and so forth.

But I think that Amazon and Google are trying to accomplish the same thing with their algorithms: reward quality because quality is what the people want.

However, there’s one very fascinating takeaway from all this:

money-256319Kindle Unlimited is the prototype of a micropayment economy.

“What the heck’s that?” you might be asking.

Well, let’s look at the so-called information economy…

The web is full of free information. This article is free. Google is free. Facebook is free. You’re giving your personal information away to those companies for free.

In fact, it’s for reasons such as these that Jaron Lanier says the idea of “free information” is actually naive. And that in order to save the middle class, we’ll need to restructure that “free information” delusion and the economy and create a system wherein micropayments were exchanged for the information that is now being bottled up by the corporate juggernaut.

It’s been a while since I read Who Owns the Future?, so I may be wrong about some of the details.

Here are some examples of what micropayment systems might look like:

  • What if WordPress was a subscription-based service that users paid .05 per hour to use? What if I were given 2.5 cents for every minute someone spent on my site? Sure, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I have a total of 100 hours spent on my site per day by various visitors, that’s $2.50 a day and $75 a month. All because I’m blogging. Like I’m doing now. Which I’m not getting paid for. Unless you click this link and buy something.
  • What if fans were allowed to donate money to their favorite artists based on how much art was produced? Like Patreon.
  • What if Facebook actually paid people for content? Yeah right.
  • What if there was an online information and content marketplace that allowed people to package and sell information products to others in exchange for currency? Like Amazon.
  • What if you paid a flat monthly subscription fee for unlimited access to that information and the information producers were paid based on how much of that content you consumed? Like Kindle Unlimited.

I think that this micropayment system has such great potential, because it’s performance-based. The cream rises to the top of the crop. Those who produce better quality products will be rewarded for their effort.

Normally I’d go on some cynical tangent about the potentials for abuse by the evil corporate machine, but not today. Let’s bask in the warm glow of Kindle Unlimited’s all-just and all-encompassing warmth and love…while it lasts.

Of course, if there are any Kindle nerds out there who can see an obvious downside that I’m missing, shoot me an email.

I’m sure I’ll come up with something sooner or later.

Nathan’s Bookshelf: Winter 2015

Most of my recent blog posts have been focused on topics related to internet marketing, since that’s where my head’s been lately.

But today I’d like to take a step back and remind my loyal readers and stray visitors that I’m not simply an internet marketing automaton…

I do have other interests…

And reading is one of those interests.

So if you’re also a reader of books and you’re looking to curl up with a good book by the radiator this winter, have a gander at my bookshelf…

And if you see something you like – by all means, click on those affiliate links ;)

What’s on Nathan’s Bookshelf Right Now

The actual blurry photo of my bookshelf that I took with my Samsung Galaxy S5 copy that was made in Hong Kong and bought in Bangkok

The actual blurry photo I took with my Samsung Galaxy S5 copy that was made in Hong Kong and bought in Bangkok

This is a mere fraction of my collection, but here goes:

  • Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, by G.I. Gurdjieff – Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of Gurdjieff. This is the first book in his trilogy. If you are considering reading this book, all I have to say is, “Good luck…”
  • In Search of the Miraculous, by P.D. Ouspensky – Anyone interested in learning more about Gurdjieff should start with this book.
  • The Storymatic, by The Storymatic – This isn’t actually a book, it’s a set of cards. But it’s right there in the picture so I figured I’d throw it in. It’s a set of cards that are designed to help stimulate the creative writer’s brain. I wrote about them in a previous blog post. It doesn’t look like the edition I bought is still on Amazon, but there are a couple others…
  • William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books, by William Blake – A must-have for any student of Blake. Reading the full-color reproductions of his prophetic works is a completely different experience than reading the text versions.
  • Austin Osman Spare books – Spare is another major player in the Western esoteric scene. His unreal work was heavily influenced by the likes of Dante, Goethe, Lao Tsu, and more.
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing, by Bob Bly – This book looks like it’s only available used, but it’s a great resource for anyone interested in direct mail marketing. It’s written in the well-known Bly style: clear, concise, to-the-point.
  • Dictionary of the Khazars, by Milorad Pavic – Someone said of him, “He thinks like other people dream,” or something very close. Read a page of any Pavic book and you’ll see why. If you love crazy surrealistic poetry, get this book.
  • The Journal of Albion Moonlight, by Kenneth Patchen – Another surrealist poet, Patchen makes the beatnicks look like mice. This book is a difficult read, but it will take your mind apart.
  • The Works of Lord Byron, by Lord Byron – Yawn. Got it for a few bucks secondhand. May use it to start a fire if it gets cold enough.
  • The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing, by Thomas S. Kane – I brought this all the way back from Thailand. It’s interesting. I feel it could be useful if I had enough time to go through and create exercises from parts of it.
  • Rumi’s Stuff, by Rumi – I can’t read the title from this picture (I’m writing this post at the office), but I think it’s the popular “selected works” one. Rumi’s another great addition to any poetry lover’s bookshelf.
  • Viriconium, by M. John Harrison – Harrison is one of the best living writers. The first Viriconium book was fantastic, as are Harrison’s more recent works. My favorites are Light and The Course of the Heart.
  • Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron – Like to write? Then read this. She sheds scientific light on the story-writing process, but it’s more about story than it is about wired.
  • A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters, by Kenneth Henshall – This fascinating, in-depth look at the etymology of Japanese characters is a must-own for anyone deeply interested in the Japanese language.
  • Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati – My favorite book on yoga. It provides a complete series of asanas (yoga poses), benefits, counter-poses, et cetera et cetera.
  • William Blake Dictionary, by S. Foster Damon – A must-have for any serious student of Blake. It provides detailed explanations for all the major concepts and characters found in Blake’s work.
  • Japanese Verbs and Essentials of Grammar, by Rita Lampkin – This short grammar book contains everything you need to know to create grammatically correct sentences. I taught myself grammar with this book when I was 15.
  • Hinduism, by Somebody – I don’t know if the linked-to book is the same one that’s on my shelf or not…I’m reading the Mahabarata right now and bought a book on Hinduism to help me out with some of the concepts.
  • The Ultimate Marketing Plan, by Dan S. Kennedy – Kennedy is great. His books are like sales and marketing textbooks. Must-haves for small businesses or anyone in sales and marketing…like me. This one covers Dan’s “marketing triangle”: message-media-market.
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter, by Dan S. Kennedy – A must for anyone who ever does copywriting or who plans on writing a sales letter.
  • Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar – This is another classic book on yoga. Any serious or semi-serious yoga student should have this on the shelf.

 

As mentioned, this list of books doesn’t even cover a fraction of my total collection.

Maybe when I have access to the rest of my books I’ll put them up…

Well, that about does it for this edition of Nathan’s blog…

We’ll see you guys next time!