Kindle Unlimited and the big picture ...

I've said this before and I have hesitated writing about because I haven't had proof. Proof surfaced today in the form of Amazon's new test of a service called "Kindle Unlimited." Amazon has made no secret that it is after content. In an online environment, content is where the money is at.

Back in the eighties, some companies had enough foresight to begin building their databases with content. Two services gained a lock on certain forms of content. One was a company called Westlaw, which aggregated thousands of legal opinions into a database. In order to access that database, a company had to pay a fee. While there are other companies that have managed to edge into the market, Westlaw holds the lion's share of subscribers, because they were the first. Likewise, another company called Ebsco did the same thing with educational articles, and most people involved in higher education are familiar with JSTOR, another content aggregator for higher education.

This is what Amazon is doing. They are amassing content so they can eventually charge bulk rates to access their content. They haven't been sneaky about it, as a matter of fact, they've been up-front about the whole endeavor. However, no one is seeing the forest, because everyone is so locked into the individual trees of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. You're all missing the point.

Rather than educational content, Amazon is basing its platform on entertainment content. They will begin with a cheap rate such as the $9.99 rate; however, as they drive other publishers and content aggregators out of business, that $9.99 will become $19.99, and when they eventually acquire a stranglehold on the products, the price may surge as high as $199. That is how content aggregation works.

In order to keep the rate low for their subscribers, they will have to cut into the royalties they pay authors and other artists for their content. Now, I don't care if you are traditionally published or self-published, if there is only one content aggregator on the market, that corporation will dictate--not negotiate, but dictate--contractual terms.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be no good for either the readers or the writers.