A few days ago, Amazon announced Kindle Worlds, a publishing platform for fanfiction authors. The way it seems to work is that Amazon acquires licenses from the franchise owners and then gets a portion of profits for each sale. There are only a handful of franchises on board for this, but Amazon promises more to come.
I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, Kindle Worlds has the potential to prove something I've been saying for years: that fanfiction is not just the province of people who lack the creativity to write their own stories, and it has positive effects on media franchises which allow it rather than the commonly held misconception that it somehow equates with "stealing" an author's work and the profits to which the author is entitled. (Whoo, long sentence.) On the other other hand, Kindle Worlds raises the question of what exactly constitutes fanfiction. I think fanfiction is something that fans have always done out of love and enjoyment. If it becomes about profit and marketing, does it cease to be fanfiction and become a hybrid--some kind of free marketing tool for already bloated media franchises? I'm not sure.
I am going to keep an eye on this. I don't know if Amazon will be able to get enough franchises on board with this, but I admit--I would at least try it out if they had a license for anything I already enjoy. Tell me what you think.