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 Kindle Unlimited 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 Kindle Unlimited 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 ~75% 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, kindle fire HD, and the Fire phone.
Our job as author/publishers is to ensure our books are where the readers are, and today, the readers have chosen Amazon. 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.
And more feedback, as I’ve explained. I have a word of mouth and review generation tool built into my ebooks.
If you want to use KDP Select effectively, here is a compiled list of best approaches.
Now, let’s get a bit more analytical, shall we? Time to discuss how to use shortlinks to see if your various efforts online are gaining traction.