Exclusivity is one of those words that conjures up images of fashionable, stylish clothes, of expensive shopping, of status symbols. It also conjures up images of being part of a carefully selected group, of prohibiting the unworthy from entering.
Thing is, that first type of exclusivity, the one that conjures up designer clothes and shoes, exclusive clubs, requires a barrier to entry–usually price. Sometimes there’s value to go with it. Sometimes there’s not, just a polished turd with fantastic marketing. Those tend to fade away pretty quickly. The things that stand the test of time tend to be well-made as well as well-marketed, although the most exclusive need not advertise at all. It’s a bit of that “If you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it.”
Then there’s the type of exclusivity that sounds great, but isn’t. It’s the type of exclusivity that’s all about limitations–you cannot leave, you have no say, the other party can alter the deal at any time. You may have entered into the agreement willingly, but if you can’t withdraw consent, you’re at their mercy, aren’t you? If you’ve ever entered into a bad deal, whether in real estate or in a personal relationship, you have a good idea of how things can turn for the worst, and unfortunately, often do.
So now, let’s talk about Amazon’s Kindle “Unlimited” (KU) program. Although readers pay $9.99 a month to be in it, the amount of times it’s referred to as “free” tells me that people have conditioned themselves (and others) to think of this subscription service in a flawed way. It’s the same mentality that some people have that that tax refund at the end of the year was not their money in the first place; they don’t realize they’ve given the government an interest-free loan all year. While it’s called Kindle “Unlimited” it does NOT mean that you can read all the ebooks in Amazon’s inventory. Quite the opposite. If anything, it’s a limited program rather than an unlimited one.
To be clear, I’m going to focus on this from the perspective of an author, not a reader although my own experience as a reader was negative as well. The KU selection was limited mostly to people I didn’t read and the few that I read, it was cheaper just to buy their books, which I did.
The subscription model is not the issue. The exclusivity requirement is.