Before we get into why I’m all in with KDP Select, first let’s cover the basics.
Amazon announced the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program back in December 2011 designed to let indie authors and publishers “make money in a whole new way”. Amazon created this program as a way to make the $79/year Amazon Prime memberships more valuable as well as cut other e-book retailers out of the market. Customers who enroll in Amazon Prime get to download Amazon’s digital content for free and also receive discounts on shipping of physical goods.
Amazon Prime and the Amazon Cloud are the online retail giant’s answers to Apple’s iTunes. On the e-book side, Amazon needed to boost the number of titles in their Kindle Lending Library, which allows Amazon Prime members to borrow e-books for free – the theory being that the Kindle Lending Library is only as valuable as the number of titles available to borrow. Authors who enter the KDP Select Program agree to give Amazon 90 days exclusivity and in turn Amazon has created a monthly fund that pays authors a royalty for every book borrowed from the Kindle Lending Library. Authors can actually make more money through the KDP Select program than through normal paid downloads. The monthly royalty payment for each KDP Select book is based on that book’s share of the total number of borrows of all participating KDP books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP Select books are 100,000 in a month funded at $500,000 and an author’s book was borrowed 1,500 times, they will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in that month.
Sounds pretty good, right? But there is that not so little catch that for 90 days you cannot sell your e-book anywhere but Amazon. Not your own website, not on Facebook, not anywhere but Amazon. Naturally, there’s been quite a bit of outrage from other e-retailers, authors, and publishers since Amazon launched the program, principally among them, Smashwords.com founder Mark Coker. You can read Mark’s perspective on KDP Select here and here.
For the record, I don’t disagree with Mark’s opinions and assessments. In a perfect world, I would want to cast as wide a distribution net for my book as possible. But I do have 4 counter points to offer in support of KDP Select:
- Smashwords, although a valuable resource for indie authors and publishers to get their ebooks formatted and distributed in a variety of formats for different eReader platforms, is not yet the destination for the everyday e-book reader/buyer.
- Barnes and Noble is closing stores and underperforming with the Nook.
- Apple is losing the e-book battle with Amazon and in fact allows the Kindle app to compete against iBooks on all Apple devices.
- Amazon currently controls ~90% of the e-book market, has the largest e-book library, the best author search and discovery tools, the most e-book readers/buyers, the best e-book pricing, and the leading e-book applications and hardware with the kindle, kindle touch, and kindle fire HD.
Our job as author/publishers is to ensure our books are where the readers are, and today, the readers have chosen Amazon. This is why I’m all in with KDP Select. It just makes sense. If/when BN and Apple get their act together, I will reconsider my position. But for now I am leveraging this program to boost my book’s visibility and sales on a monthly basis in a way I never could if it didn’t exist (One Blood was downloaded 5,276 times during a 1 day promotion in January 2013 and has been downloaded a total of 15,122 times since December 2011). As Amazon comes out with better e-readers like the Kindle Fire HD (which largely depends on Amazon Cloud and Amazon Prime memberships), I have seen my borrows from the Kindle Lending Library gradually increase as well. So for me, it’s a no brainer – more visibility, more sales, and more money in my pocket.
What are your arguments for or against KDP Select?
Interesting perspective. I was thinking I’d publish to Kindle but not enroll in the KDP program. It will depend on how easy it is to opt out of the KDP program after the 90 day period. if it’s a hassle then I won’t fool with it.
That was pretty much the thinking that led me to publish my first two books to Kindle and enroll them in KDP Select. However, there are a few other things to take into account when enrolling your book in the 90 day program:
1) The new referral rules for Amazon Associates penalize them for their visitors linking to Amazon almost exclusively via free book links–by zeroing out their referral bonuses for the month. Those referral bonuses are pretty minimal to begin with. As a result, most free books sites are changing their focus to encourage more visitors to link through via links where it costs at least 99 cents to buy the book.
The “free book” sites are also making it harder to get your free book links listed, and are charging authors some serious money to feature their free books; anwhere between $10 and $30. So now, authors enrolled in KDP Select are actually having to pay money to reach other people who want to read their books for free.
This pretty well neutralizes one of the biggest selling points of the KDP program for authors: the five free book days. If you can’t break the 200-300 book borrows/free day thresh-hold, then there seems to be little point in having those free days at all.
2) Just because you get your book listed in KDP Select doesn’t mean that anyone is going to borrow it. Even though I’ve been promoting my books as borrowable–neither one has yet been borrowed by anyone.
And that, for me, neutralizes the other selling point.
I also recently learned via a friend that even with their falling share of the ebook market, Nook still has a 40% market share. I wouldn’t count them out yet.
With my next book, I will be publishing across all platforms, and taking advantage of the opportunities this gives me instead of going exclusively with KDP Select.
Thanks for your comments Krysti. Regarding the impact of the Affiliate changes on Free ebook promotions, many of them were receiving only a very small commission of their overall income from clicks to Amazon for free books. See these comments from Anthony Wessel over at Digital Book today. Do you think it would be worthwhile for AD to interview more of these Free ebook sites to get their perspective?
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