Swim the sea of books as Kindle Unlimited aims to crack China market

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service has opened up in China but with only around 40,000 Chinese ebooks on offer and just 3,500 English-language titles.

KU in China is being priced at 12 yuan a month locally, which works out at around $1.84, or there’s a 7-day trial available at 0.1 yuan ($0.15 or £0.11). Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 a month in the US and £7.99 in the UK.

In India, there’s a sliding scale for KU subscribers, so if you sign up for 12 months you pay 150 rupees a month ($2.18) while a six-month deal is 166 rupees a month ($2.42) and a one-month sign-up is 199 rupees ($2.90).

Google Translate charmingly translates the Chinese KU launch headline as ‘Swim the Sea of Books” but it doesn’t have much of an ocean to navigate at the moment with only a few thousand ebooks in English and around 40,000 in Chinese compared with over 1 million titles and thousands of audiobooks in the US.

China is, of course, a censored market, and I would have thought it was unlikely that a lot of the more racy US and UK Kindle best-sellers will escape the net.

So I was surprised to see that Someone Like You by Addison Moore was riding high in KU popularity in China as there’s a warning on the US Kindle store saying, ‘This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.’

Self-help’s always big in Asia so it’s no shock to see titles such as Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn Glieu and Leadership Transformed by Peter Fuda also available on KU China.

Other well-known English-language authors on KU China include some of Kindle’s top guns — science fiction best-seller and indie author champion Hugh Howey, romance suspense self-publisher Barbara Freethy, and Scott Pratt with his Joe Dillard series of legal thrillers.

Until recent months, the KDP Select global fund paid out on all borrows in all markets around the world at the same rate but Amazon changed this policy in November last year.

In that month, it paid authors who had KU borrows in India at the rate of $0.0016 per KENP (Kinle Edition Normalized Page) — one-third of the $0.0048 rate paid in November for borrows in the US Kindle store.

Presumably, KU borrows in China will also see authors get paid out at a reduced rate but with such a small range of books it’s unlikely to be much of a concern at present. Eventually, however, it’s bound to be a massive market.

Kindle Unlimited total ebook borrows hit over 100 million in 2015

Kindle Unlimited launches in India but Amazon warns authors could see pay-per-page rate cut