For many authors, both traditionally published or self-published, the new KDP Select program launched by Amazon recently poses quite a few questions. While there has been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of the program in the literary blogosphere, the main discussion point has been about the exclusivity that Amazon demand for inclusion.
In my situation I have ten books currently published. Most are available in both paperback and ebook, but a couple are available only in ebook format. However, all of my books are available through all the major online retailers and even some offline retailers who now also sell ebooks. So if I was to sign up with KDP Select, I would have to remove my ebooks from the likes of Apple, B&N, Sony and Smashwords. I would even have to remove my books that I have available from my own websites. Amazon’s idea of exclusivity is total. Under their terms and conditions, I would not even be permitted to offer promotional copies or even sample chapters on my own websites and blogs. Any book promotion I use myself must have a direct link to my book’s page on Amazon.
While this exclusivity sounds very monopolistic, bordering on draconian, there is no denying that Amazon delivers the bulk of my book sales revenue. Certainly not all, but a healthy percentage. So, do I drop all my other revenue streams and give Amazon 100% sales rights to my books?
Well, perhaps. The other side of this coin is a marketing and promotional opportunity. With this program comes 5 days out of every 90 days when you can select to have a book available for free. Is this good I hear some ask? Well, it is not normally possible to offer any book for free on Amazon, and there are times when it makes good sense to have a free book promotion. Firstly it helps a book’s ranking, finds new readers who may well buy other books and it also would work well if you use pricing layers. By this I mean having a book or two at $0.99 and others at say $2.99. Or perhaps a series of books where the first of the series in cheaper and may benefit from some free promotion to attract readers to later, more expensive books in the series.
One more point for me is that Kindle Prime, which is the client base that can access and borrow books available via KDP Select, is very much a US centric program. So what about my readers and potential readers who live outside the US? Well, so long as Amazon is servicing their country, (there are many countries that they are not however) they can still buy my ebooks as opposed to free lending offered by Prime membership.
If they have an iPad, Nook, Sony or any non-Kindle compatible reading device – well, sorry, bad luck.
But lastly, in a press release from Amazon a few days ago, the December 2011 sales data was released stating that each ‘borrow’ of a an ebook earned $1.70! Needless to say that for publishers with $0.99 ebooks on sale this will be very difficult to resist.
‘With the $500,000 December fund, KDP authors have earned $1.70 per borrow.’
So in a ‘toe in the water’ approach, I have published a new updated and revised version of my book ‘Vandalism of Words’. The new title, The Vandal, will only be available on KDP Select so hopefully it will give me some indication of how it all works. Depending on how this book goes, I’ll see if it may be worth adding more of my books to the program.
I’ll keep you posted.