Romance readers read too much, so Scribd cuts off its foot?

Today, July 1st (Happy Canada Day!), Kindle begins paying Kindle Unlimited authors by the page. Their reports section has been updated, authors are talking about how many pages are being read, and we are all biting our nails to see how much Amazon is going to fork out per page. But, that won’t come to light until the end of the month.

In other news, Scribd has decided to raise the white flag and give all its business to Kindle Unlimited.

Scribd announced yesterday (via their aggregates Draft2Digital and Smashwords) that they are culling romance titles from their subscription service because romance readers simply read too much. So much in fact, that they are eating Scribd out of house and home. I’m a Draft2Digital user, but I honestly think Smashword’s post was better.

“Effective immediately, I estimate 80-90 percent of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will be dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of our most popular romance titles.  Books priced at free are safe and will remain in their catalog.

Based on what I’ve been able to glean, the lower the price and the higher the word count, the better the odds the book will remain.  Few books priced $3.99 and above will remain.  Scribd is not publicly revealing the formulas for what stays and what goes, probably because much of this is still in flux. They’re cutting all publishers and distributors with the same blunt knife. It’s ugly.  The problem for Scribd is that romance readers are heavy readers, and Scribd pays publishers retailer-level margins for the books.”

And Draft2Digital had this to say:

Scribd took a significant risk putting in place a model that paid authors the same amount as a retail model for each book read by a subscriber. As we all know, romance readers tend to be incredibly avid readers. In trying to cater to this voracious readership while under this progressive payment model, Scribd has put itself in a difficult place. In a bid to better balance these operating expenses, Scribd is immediately slashing the volume of romance novels in its subscription service.

Yes – Scribd’s model of paying retail royalties for a subscription service flat fee wasn’t viable. I don’t think slashing romance is going to fix this. When you are asking a reader to pay 9$ for access to unlimited reads ranging from 99cents and freebies to books that retail for 9.99… You have to hope and pray that the reader only reads a few mid-range, no 9.99 and mostly freebies/99cent books. Otherwise, you are in the red before that reader finishes their third book. Heck, Kindle Unlimted had the same problem, and they were paying their readers a flat rate of 1.40/borrow.

What I don’t like is the fact that Scribd thinks culling its romance titles (and putting the blame on readers reading too much using a service they are paying Scribd for), and thinking this will fix all the things! It won’t. What it will most likely do is have Scribd’s subscriber base dwindling and moving over to Kindle Unlimited.

Author David Gaughran said it even more poignantly:

“Someone stepped on Scribd’s toe so they decided to amputate their leg.”

As of this morning, my own books were in a kind of strange limbo. I can get to their Scribd sales page via Draft2Digital’s dashboard links, but if you search for me on Scribd, all you will see are my freebies. So, it seems Scribd is expecting romance readers to stay on to pay for access to books they can get free everywhere else. Well, that’s certainly an interesting business plan…

As Amazon flounders to find a workable plan for it’s KU program, and now Scribd apparently committing suicide, one has to wonder if Netflix-style reading subscription services are actually viable? One has to argue that they could be, if readers were asked to pay more than $10/month. But, that of course begs the question: would readers be willing to pay more?

What I don’t understand is how this is a surprise to Kindle or Scribd – that readers who pay for a book subscription will, you know, read. If a reader is going to pay a monthly subscription for something, chances are high they love to read, and will probably read a lot.

I’m certain Kindle and Scribd were hoping most readers would sign up at 10$ and only read a book a month – signing up for access to best sellers and such. The problem? Those best sellers aren’t on Kindle Unlimited because of exclusivity and minimal payment compensation, and the ones that are on Scribd are costing Scribd full retail royalties on best seller prices (8.99 and up).

Instead, what they got were readers signing up who aren’t picky about best sellers, trade-published or indie-published. They got readers who wanted to take chances, give books a try they may not normally spend money on, and the majority of it happened to be romance, erotica, thrillers, horror and short-reads. They are consuming book after book after book, saving themselves tons of money while costing KU and Scribd way more than the 10$ subscription fee.

So, when KU said “uh-oh, this isn’t working”, and Scribd grabbed the bone-saw… I’m surprised that anyone is surprised.


Share the love!

Breaking down the new Kindle Unlimited payout terms


So, as many of you have, I received a very interesting letter from Amazon’s KDP Select department today. If you haven’t received this letter, you can read it in full here:

The email has slightly different text, but the same basic points. I’m going to take a few moments to break this down a bit and talk about the good, the bad and the downright depressing aspects of these new payment terms.

“…beginning on July 1, the KDP Select Global Fund will be paid out based on the number of pages KU and KOLL customers read”

That’s right folks. KU is no longer paying per-borrow, nor are they continuing to require a book be read to at least 10% to earn a payment for the author. For the past six months, the payout to authors has been disappointing, to say the least, with the average being $1.40 earned per KU borrow (if the reader got beyond 10%). This has been due to the fact that the Payout Pool has been flooded by books, generally shorter reads, that ate up all the funds. Books that were 25 pages earned the same /borrow rate as 250 page books. Continue reading

Share the love!

Paperback Writer? Take the survey and help me decide.

For an indie-author, producing a paperback (print) version of a book can be an arduous, expensive and time-consuming task. Currently, I’m an eBook only author. I’m also an eBook only reader, having not purchased a physical fiction book since 2010. I have this assumption that physical book demand is on the decline, and that I’m not losing a huge number of potential readers by only offering my books in digital format. Assumptions being what they are (a bad thing), I’ve decided to create this poll. It’s anonymous and only your answers are collected. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Share the love!

Book Review: Carbide Tipped Pens (Hard Sci-Fi Anthology)

Carbide Tipped Pens
By: Various
Sub-Genres: Hard Sci-Fi


Rating: I loved it  (?)


Pardon me for a moment while I glue my heart back together.

And that is how I ended the first story in Carbide Tipped Pens – with a shattered organ, the sniffles, and high expectations for the rest of the stories.

As anthologies are oft to do, they put the best stories at the very front and the very end, hoping to pull book-store browser and preview-readers to the check out, while leaving readers who get all the way through with a feeling of satisfaction. Carbide Tipped Pens is no exception. It pulls your heart out, puts it back in, makes you think, then makes you wonder, strings you along and then lets you go with a head full of ideas.

In short, Carbide Tipped Pens is a good collection of stories representing several aspects of the hard sci-fi genre with enough great stories out of the seventeen to make it worth the read (though perhaps not the $15 price for the eBook that Macmillan is currently expecting). If you can find this one in your local library (or Macmillan stops being crazy) then pick it up. It’s a good collection to have, and it represents a spectrum of science fiction stories.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in request for honest feedback. (Because no way am I ever going to pay $15 for an ebook…)

Share the love!

Book Review: The Tide of War (LGBT Military Sci-Fi)

The Tide if War
By: Lori A. Witt
Sub-Genres: LGBT, Romance, Action, Military


Rating: I liked it  (?)


The Tide of War is a unique take on the standard military science fiction novel, stepping into the growing genre of LGBT science fiction without slapping you across the face with the rainbow hammer (patent pending). The LGBT aspects are kept subtle enough to make it all seem normal without losing the substantial impact having such LGBTQ normalcy within a futuristic Earth setting provides. Aside from the LGBT aspect (which is refreshing), the core of the book is military science fiction with romantic elements, and will be reviewed from that view point.

And, from that view point, this book was a near miss with me.

Continue reading

Share the love!

Spotlight: The Circuit: Executor Rising by Rhett Bruno (Space Opera)

The Circuit was previously reviewed by Tracing The Stars, but the book is being re-released at a new publisher (Diversion Books) with a new cover. If you haven’t picked this book up yet, now is your chance. It’s a highly recommended read.

From my original review:

The Circuit, I believe, has a little bit of something for every science fiction reader. Although there are a few hiccups, mostly with over-description, I could find no true negatives while reading this book. It offers “massive world building done right”, an exploration of human nature, the development of artificial life, politics, social conflicts and a fully fleshed-out, believable future. The characters within The Circuit are unique and three dimensional, and most have no black or white lines drawn – offering instead a gray concept of justice and injustice that all depends on how you, the reader, relate to the characters and their motivations.

For the author’s ability to allow the reader choice when it comes to deciding who is right or wrong, although I dare say that is a highly blurred line in this book, I give The Circuit five stars.

You can read my full review by clicking here.

About The Book

The Circuit Cover FinalCenturies after Earth was rendered an uninhabitable wasteland, humanity was forced from its homeworld and founded the Kepler Circuit, a string of colonies throughout the solar system. These settlements provide resources to the remnants of humankind, the most important resource being the newly discovered element—Gravitum—found only in the Earth’s unstable mantle.

But a powerful religious faction known as the New Earth Tribunal has risen to preside over most of the Circuit. Though there is barely a faction left to challenge them, a string of attacks on the Tribunal’s freighters causes them to suspect their mortal enemies, the Ceresians, of foul play.

Tasked with solving the problem is Sage Volus: Tribunal Executor. Spy.

Sage quickly infiltrates the ranks of a roguish, Ceresian mercenary named Talon Rayne, seeking to discover the truth behind the attacks, but the longer she works amidst Talon and his squad, the more she finds her faith in the Tribunal tested.

While her quest for answers only unearths more questions, a new threat is on the rise, and it plans to bring down the Tribune once and for all.

 Get The Book


Share the love!