Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why I'm On the Fence About KDP Select

There are a number of issues with the KDP Select Lending Program that I'm nervous about. I will happily sit on the fence until I see how things shake down. Here's a few of my issues:

How the amounts are calculated...

The example given in the KDP FAQ are very generous. Only 100,000 monthly book borrowed? Only? So out of everyone with a Prime Membership, only 100,000 people will borrow a book? Sure, no problem. We'll go with it.

Then, you get a percentage of the pool of money based on the percentage of downloads you had. That math sounds amazing, as a month with fewer downloads total means you get paid MORE money. Does this make sense? Does it really make sense that Amazon is going to promote and support a program as it dwindles with $500,000 every month? What happens when only 50,000 Prime members download a book, effectively doubling the royalty paid on each download? Flip side, as the program gets more and more readers participating, you get less money per download. They're committing to investing $6 million into the royalty share pool. I'm sure more and more readers will borrow the more expensive, top titles, just like those books are the same ones always with a waiting list at your local library.

I'm concerned about the program's influence on public libraries, many of which are just now going to digital content lending. I don't like the idea of libraries having to pay authors royalties on the content they give out. I firmly believe that public libraries are a strong part of a people's culture, and that information should be available despite economic status. I don't want to see a return of commercial libraries where people pay a membership.

Second issue I have is with the likelihood that my book will be borrowed. My book is $2.99. Remember, a reader can ONLY borrow 1 book per month, or 12 books per year. I already have a hard enough time convincing readers to buy my novel instead of the three to four times more expensive NY Times Bestsellers. How am I going to convince a reader to download my cheaper title for their one book they are allowed per month when I can't even convince them to pay $3.00 for it, which they are saving by borrowing the NY Times Bestseller for free?

The exclusivity clause and allowed to make my book free for 5 days out of every 90 days also troubles me. There is already a mechanism to make your book free on Amazon with price matching. Will there be a crackdown now on authors who use this system to make their book free on Amazon? Will KDP Select, meaning your book now must be exclusive to Amazon, be the only way you can offer it for free?

In the end, I will probably not enroll my novels in KDP Select Lending. I am considering including a short story or two, that I am working on now for publication early next year. They were going to be free or $.99 anyway. I get about 30% of my total sales from B&N, and I sell my book on my personal website. I'm not giving up 30% of my income for an Amazon exclusive program....

Besides, did anyone notice that Barnes and Noble now has an indie book store?

**** I'm not the only author waiting to see how this plays out. Another thoughtful post from author Jessica Dragon Cheramie.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)


  1. The one thing that immediately stood out to me was the exclusivity clause. That means I can't put that particular book up on B & N, Smashwords, etc. I am NOT putting all my apples in one basket. That's bad business in most cases.

    B & N has an indie book store? Really? I hadn't heard that.

  2. @Lauralynn

    I don't like the exclusivity clause, either. Albeit, it's only 90 days, I just don't like what kind of message that sends. I'm not even getting into the fact that the Big 6 REFUSED to sign up for the Lending Program. Now, three weeks later, it's available to indies.... To me, Amazon can't abandon it, they promised it with Amazon Prime membership/Kindle Fire purchases.

    I think independent authors already put a little too much faith/dependence on Amazon. I get that it is where most of our sales come from, but that's not a permanent condition. I'm working on getting my book in as man outlets as I can. :) Not the other way around.

  3. I wouldn't do it for my authors. To want exclusive rights takes away from the sales they could be having elsewhere. Exclusive rights also means that the author CANNOT sell it on THEIR website. Plus, there may come up an issue of the 90 days. Is it 90 days from the first day the book gets read by someone or 90 days from the day you give it to them. It's too sticky. Plus, Amazon is NOT self-published friendly nowadays. They are already taking Authors books down who don't use CreateSpace and trying to make them use CreateSpace in order to get their books put back on Amazon. NOPE! Not doing it! Not at all!

  4. "I think independent authors already put a little too much faith/dependence on Amazon. I get that it is where most of our sales come from, but that's not a permanent condition."-I agree wholeheartedly Elizabeth Ann West

  5. Welcome to my blog ZLS Publishing! I always love a new comment maker. The more and more I'm learning about the program, the more I'm certain I will stay away. I was galled just at the $7,500 example KDP gave in the FAQS. What indie author, who isn't seeing 1,500 downloads in a month is going to suddenly be amazingly visible to all of these Amazon Prime members? When I go to my local library, I usually only have time to check out the Just In wall of books. When I find an author I like, on my next trip, I'll see what else is in the catalog.

    I lost track of my own reader habits and became wrapped up in marketing my current book. I need to write the next one, and the one after that. Readers aren't stupid. And even for me as a reader, I don't want to take a chance on an author with one $2.99 or $.99 or even FREE book, because when it's over with, there's nothing else to get. And that stinks.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting. Welcome again and hope to hear your thoughts again in the future! :)

  6. I don't mind risking a $.99 title or two . . . Just my two cents. As far as exclusivity, I've sold zero books on Smashwords, and only a few on Barnes and Noble over the past 6 months, so 90 days is fine with me. Again - just my two cents.

  7. Hi Kimberly! Nice to meet you! For many authors who already see the majority of their sales come from Amazon, it might not be a bad deal. I'm not in that boat (though I actively work to stay out of that boat, not every author does that). Everything has tradeoffs. Some of the energy I use for marketing all of the different channels my book is available in probably in the long run kills time I have for writing, etc.

    Good luck to you and hopefully we'll hear about your experiences in a few months! :)