Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Books Crime Japan

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Is a Victim of Its Success in Japan (wsj.com) 48

You really need to understand the market before you start operating there. Take Amazon's case for instance, which has found itself in the middle of a backlash with publishers in Japan. When Amazon launched its "all-you-can-read-subscription" Kindle Unlimited service in Japan, the company didn't know it would become such a big success. And yet it did. So much so that Amazon had to sharply scale back within weeks of its introduction in the country. Before Amazon introduced the feature in Japan, it partnered with Japanese publishers to offer their popular content, committing to pay them a premium through the end of this year when a customer reads at least 10 percent of a book or other content. It worked -- too well, WSJ reports. From an article: Since it's easy for readers to get through the first 10% of a magazine or photo book in just a few minutes, Amazon quickly found itself on the hook for large payments (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), a person at one publisher said. A person at another publisher said Amazon made an overture for talks in September saying it had hit its budget limit for the payments to publishers and wanted revisions to its contract with the publisher."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Is a Victim of Its Success in Japan

Comments Filter:
  • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @10:26AM (#53011115)

    someone gamed the system like in the USA to get paid. in the USA it was junk books where people copied crap from wikipedia

  • Unlimited (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The word "unlimited" should raise a red flag for anything that fundamentally costs money.

    Unlimited first posts however...

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @10:30AM (#53011139)
    Unlimited as long as you don't use too much
  • Japan 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fullback ( 968784 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @10:30AM (#53011143)

    People with even a cursory knowledge of Japan know that Japanese are voracious readers. I don't feel sorry for Amazon. They should have to pay up and chalk it up as a stupidity tax.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Huge international corp. introduces new service and sells devices.

      They make a boatload of cash selling devices.

      They also pay a small portion to authors.

      The corporation exceeds their wildest dreams and rake in the cash.

      They then try to skunk out of payments to authors, saying their limit had been reached.

      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        Yeah, hopefully Japanese lawyers hang them out to dry on this.
        "Oops, we didn't plan this well" isn't a very good excuse for breach of contract.

        • Yeah, hopefully Japanese lawyers hang them out to dry on this. "Oops, we didn't plan this well" isn't a very good excuse for breach of contract.

          True, but depending on the contract, Amazon could be well within its rights to pull titles to control costs; which is what it appeared to do in this case. So either publishers renegotiate the contact or simply don't have their titles included and thus make no money except for actual sales. Renegotiating a contract is a normal business activity and doesn't constitute a breach. As for the subscribers, it appears they are on a month to month plan so Amazon would be well within their rights to change the availa

          • Renegotiating a contract is a normal business activity and doesn't constitute a breach.

            Depends slightly on whether both sides agree to it.

            • Renegotiating a contract is a normal business activity and doesn't constitute a breach.

              Depends slightly on whether both sides agree to it.

              That's why it's called a negotiation. Ultimately, both sides need to agree to any changes; absent that both are free to act within the agreed upon terms. If Amazon was not contractually obligated to carry certain titles they can drop them whenever they want and baring an agreement to pay some minimum amount not owe the publishers any more money.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I mean, in this case, it's probably "We'd rather not shutter this, but we can't actually justify sustaining this. Can we work something out?".

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What are you talking about, those devices are sold at a loss.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They then try to skunk out of payments to authors, saying their limit had been reached.

        Amazon takes a whopping 65% cut off the selling price for kindle books priced over $10 (and the author gets a piddly 35%). For kindle books selling under $10, the author makes 70% of the selling price, but has to pay 15 cents/MB "delivery charge." What a fucking ripoff!

        Amazon is twisting authors' arms to keep books priced under $10, and that should be illegal.

        • *blinks* Just out of curiosity, how much do you think authors get paid by their publishers? Cause the answer is, barring a damn few TradPubs, the answer is jack and shit unless you are a superstar. Even then the way they count sales is fucking asinine.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            When an author selects the paper book publishing route, the publisher is taking a huge risk investing a sum of money editing, typesetting, printing and marketing the book. None of those risks/costs apply for ebooks which usually involves just operating a web server of some kind. The author should make at least 70% regardless of book price, because of the low-cost of operating a web server.

            • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

              Due to the advent of computers, typesetting costs are minimal these days. For a novel it is less than a days work and you could produce a camera ready PDF yourself if you wanted very easily. Back when it all done by hand or required expensive equipment you might have had a point. However in 2016 you can do it on the cheapest of netbooks for a software cost of $0.

    • Contracts are not iron-clad agreements. If they contain a mistake [wikipedia.org], one or both parties can ask a court to relieve them of having to honor the contract. Price mistakes on website are a common example. If Amazon lists a $1000 laptop for $100 on its website and you place an order, even though the order constitutes a contract between Amazon and you, Amazon is not obligated to honor the price because obviously it was a mistake. They might choose to honor the price in the interest of good customer relations i
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @10:47AM (#53011225)

    I've had Kindle unlimited for a while and find the selection very limited. Sure they have a lot of in-house books listed there, but the quality is extremely varied. For the amount I read from unlimited, I am spending more on unlimited than I would if I were to simply buy the books I've read and enjoyed. I suspect I'm not alone in this. So for Amazon in the US, the unlimited has been wildly successful I think. It's a check-cashing service for them.

    I've encountered a few good indie books on unlimited. But the author didn't make much money if any because of my unlimited reading. Amazon's contract was designed to benefit Amazon first and foremost. Therefore I have little sympathy for Amazon Japan's problems. A contract is a contract. They agreed to it, they need to follow through until the contract is fulfilled.

    • ...Sure they have a lot of in-house books listed there...

      Well, I guess that's better than having a lot of out-house books listed... cause those kinda stink!

      Seriously, if the contacts don't have provisions for some sort of a bailout or adjustment then Amazon needs better lawyers negotiating for them. One thing is certain, someone did not do their due diligence before putting the deal in writing.

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        Well if a contract can be renegotiated at any party's whim that seems to cheapen and weaken the whole point of contracts. No wonder dishonesty is so entrenched in the business world. Contracts seem to be good as long as they benefit me. The moment they start to move against me, it's time to renegotiate! If both parties agree, then I have no problems with that, of course. I deal with contracts in another industry all the time and, once the deal is signed, we follow the terms. There is an out of course,

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are millions of books available. More than you can read in 10,000 lifetimes. You just want $FLAVOR_OF_THE_MONTH for free. Stop being such a fucking sheep and freeloader.

      And stop with the K.U. lies. indy-authors make good income from titles in the program - providing they're actually getting read - which is the hard part. All but those that get picked up for movies will tell you this 100x over in the many communities dedicated to these authors.

      You also choose to ignore that Kindle is a business in itse

    • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @11:59AM (#53011677)
      For the amount I read from unlimited, I am spending more on unlimited than I would if I were to simply buy the books I've read and enjoyed

      Amazon's contract was designed to benefit Amazon first and foremost

      Yet you still give them money? Did I miss something obvious in your post?
      • Any contract is designed to benefit each side (in their opinion) the most.

        I don't care what their contracts are for the most part (within legal, moral, etc., concerns), as long as their products and prices are appealing to me.

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        Yes I am, bot not for long. But you see this service is so successful because of people like me. Ones who don't really want to keep paying Amazon, but I have enough money to not really miss it each month and forget to unsubscribe from month to month. Plus there's the issue of those 2 or 3 books in my unlimited selection I've been meaning to read but haven't yet. The psychology Amazon uses really works! I don't fault them for this. There's no contract here, so they aren't holding me over a barrel. I jus

    • A contract is a contract. They agreed to it, they need to follow through until the contract is fulfilled.

      I think this is important to keep in mind. If a small publisher had negotiated poorly with Amazon and wanted out of a contract, would Amazon let them off the hook?

      Amazon is trying to leverage their way out of the situation. They have removed some of the publishers' content from the service, which will probably lower their costs for the rest of the contract. But it also sends a message, "Well, look at how much exposure we give you. It would be a shame if we had to cut back on it."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Often forgotten but essential: the one thing you must never ever be unprepared for is success. Because if you are, where is the point in even starting?

  • "You really need to understand the market before you start operating there."

    Directly observing the invisible hand ... piece of cake !!
  • by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2016 @12:35PM (#53011933)

    Why should publishers care for amazons budget? Was it part of the contract? I don't think so.

    Ever tried that with a doctor's bill? "Oh sorry, I have reached my monthly budget on your bills"

    • by Yalius ( 1024919 )
      Uhhhh... yeah. I've had bills reduced or even waived by my doctor in the past because they were significantly higher than I'd planned. Have you ever tried?
      • higher than YOU planned or how he planned?

        • by Yalius ( 1024919 )
          Me. The conversation went kind of like this... "I don't have enough to pay for all that this month." "Well, ok, we can work with that. How much can you pay? Yeah, that will do it."
          • And then there's "I don't have insurance". "Okay, let me cut this bill in half. Getting cash up front and not dealing with insurance saves me money."
  • Amazon banks on most people not maximizing their use of a service. E.g. there is so much in Prime right now that it is pretty to have Amazon lose money on an individual. Twitch just offered "Twitch Prime", part of Amazon Prime, which includes 1 free subscription per month. That 1 free subscription translates to $2 to $3 a month to the streamer per subscription.

  • Company offers a service. Company realizes service is not profitable. Company ceases offer of service.

    What about those users who signed up for Kindle Unlimited purely for the offerings of these publishers? It's a monthly subscription. Cancel. From my own experience and from the anecdotal evidence I've heard, their customer service department is likely to offer you a pro-rated refund on the current month, if it really matters that much to you

  • Solid "Get Rich Quick" scheme - keep the first 10% of your books "intentionally left blank"

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly

Working...