Talking Between Reads (TBR): It Ain’t FREE!

Posted January 16, 2017 by Jennifer in Talking Between Reads | | 19 Comments

Talking Between Reads (TBR) is a monthly discussion post where we talk about different topics from books to blogging and anything else we think you guys might enjoy. Stop by for new topics.

Marketing a Book as FREE via Kindle Unlimited is my biggest pet peeve at the moment.

What exactly is Kindle Unlimited?

It is a new service that allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. You can read on any device. It’s available for $9.99 a month and you can cancel anytime.

Why is my pet peeve? Look at the description of KU. IT COSTS $9.99 A MONTH. What the hell about that screams FREE? Not a damn thing.


I wondered about the authors and if they get any money from ebooks readers checkout from Kindle Unlimited and @PhantasmicReads pointed me to the answer below.

Royalties in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
You’re eligible for royalty payment from Kindle Unlimited (KU, or Abonnement Kindle in France) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) for pages an individual customer reads in your book for the first time. A customer can read your book as many times as they like, but we will only pay you for the number of pages read the first time the customer reads them.
It may take months for customers to read pages in your book, but no matter how long it takes, we’ll still pay you once it happens. This is true even if your KDP Select enrollment period has expired, and you choose not to re-enroll.
You can read more info HERE.

I also wondered about ebooks checkout from the library and if authors receive royalties from them. Alexandra Haughton directed me via Twitter . . .

So while I’m sick of seeing this kind of marketing I can understand why authors would use it to get people to read their books. But as someone that does not pay for Kindle Unlimited, these books are not FREE for me. I tried KU once and 90% of the books I would read I found within my library system so it’s still not for me.

How do you feel about this current marketing poly?

Find Me


Owner/Blogger at The Book Nympho
I coexist with my husband of 15 years, our 11-year-old son and two chilled cats in the Deep South.

After 17 years I've finally finished my BA in English (no I do not want to be a teacher). Before majoring in English I would not have touched anything labeled "classic", but I have enjoyed a few along the way in my college career.

While I hated to read growing up, I am now an avid book reader and audiobook listener. I love rejecting reality one book at a time. I only read fiction within my favorite (at least to date) genres which include: most romance (paranormal, contemporary, D/s, BDSM, M/M)Urban Fantasy, and a few YA (mostly PNR or UF from favorite adult authors, but I'm slowly stepping out of my comfort zone after enjoying a few contemporary YA novels in adolescent literature class I took).
Find Me

Latest posts by Jennifer (see all)

19 responses to “Talking Between Reads (TBR): It Ain’t FREE!

  1. As you know, I really dislike this. I feel they could advertise that their book is “available on KU”. I’ve seen some just market as FREE on Twitter and there was nothing about KU, until I clicked through.

  2. nikkiphilton

    Oh yeah, this pisses me off. You have to make sure to look twice to see if the book is really free or just free if you have KU. I never thought about the rankings, but that is also a valid point.

  3. I have always looked at kindle unlimited and it seems okay, but I don’t finish ebooks very fast because they are seldom my primary book. When I don’t finish ebooks as quickly I don’t want to pay 10 bucks a month for a service I may not even use in a particular month.

  4. I look at it this way, if my local gym sent out a newsletter that said “Using Our Pool is FREE!” but when I went to the gym and found out I had to pay $80 for a membership to use that pool… it ain’t free.

    I mean from a marketing and publicity standpoint I get it. It’s a logical hook to get people to look inside a newsletter or visit the book’s page. But it’s a lie. As a reader, I greatly feel like an author is insulting my intelligence when they do it. I lose so much respect for authors who do it.

    On a side note, I also dislike seeing KU books included in the rankings with actual books that are selling (and I get that yes, some are being purchased so count the actual purchases). I think they need a separate system to rank them. Because I personally get curious as to what other readers consider worth actually purchasing and that muddies that up.

  5. I hadn’t tried KU yet and didn’t plan on it, because I don’t want to pay a monthly fee for books I can get via library. I’m glad to see your post on this as I know lots of posts are around saying FREE when I knew they weren’t. How frustrating!

  6. I agree with you and Lola makes a good point. It’s not free and I don’t like the marketing ploy. I’m ok with authors saying their book is in KU, but I don’t like to see them say it’s free in KU cause it isn’t. KU is a paid service.
    I DO NOT have KU and never will. I prefer to check my library first for print or ebook; before I decide to maybe purchase the title. The KU Free ploy is a pet peeve of mine.

  7. I never noticed that but that’s probably because I have KU. That would be frustrating to see! How often are people tricked by that. My library isn’t awesome so KU is my place to get books I want to try out and if I’m in a mood for a genre change I can get a fix. I honestly love it, I know it doesn’t work for everyone but I get my money’s worth. 🙂

    • I think it’s worth it for people who read a lot in a month but I don’t read fast enough for it to work for me. Plus I have so many books I already own and access to a couple of libraries that it’s not worth the monthly fee for me.

  8. worse is for people abroad.. you can pay for it but have no use for it because each thing you try you get the ” service not available in your area” but teh money they take it

    • Yeah with my print, ebook and audio TBR (books I own and have for review) it doesn’t make sense for me to pay $9.99 a month.

  9. OMG yes! I find this frustrating because when you say free I expect free. If it’s not free, then tell us it’s KU or $0.99 etc. I can’t stomach paying for KU when I have so many books at home, not to mention so many great library cards that can get me more books than I can read already. I do understand they want to advertise their books so they get paid they just need to be more honest about it. Who knows, I still might click and pay if it’s cheap enough!

  10. Yes, this makes me crazy. My TBR pile is too big for KU to make sense for me. As a VA for Authors, I make sure mine aren’t marketing that way. You can say Available on KU or Kindle Unlimited.

  11. I do understand why authors market it as free as that attracts attention, but I do agree with you that they aren’t free. I toured a few books that were in KU and always made sure to word it differently, like this book is available to read with Kindle Unlimited or something like that. I think it’s good to emphasize if a book is in KU, but I think the wording free is a bit misleading. As like you said KU isn’t free and for those who don’t have KU the book isn’t free either. Libraries here in the Netherlands are paid too, you usually pay for months or for a year, so I am always a bit confused when I hear people say it’s free, as here it isn’t.

    • Some of our library systems are paid too here in the US. I think it depends on the city, county and/or state. But where I live the libraries are free, well part of our city and state taxes pay for them but I do not have to pay for a library card.

  12. I’m behind you 100% on this one. Free means no conditions whatsoever. If it’s tied to a service, then it’s not free. The more appropriate description would be “a Kindle Unlimited book.” FTC rules for marketing used to restrict the usage of the word “free” and this would definitely be a violation. So, it may be bigger than a pet peeve.