Home » Amazon, Ebook Borrowing/Lending, Ebooks » Announcing KDP Select for KDP Authors & Publishers

Announcing KDP Select for KDP Authors & Publishers

8 December 2011

An email send far and wide from Amazon:

We’re excited to introduce KDP Select – a new option dedicated to KDP authors and publishers worldwide, featuring a fund of $500,000 in December 2011 and at least $6 million in total for 2012!  KDP Select gives you a new way to earn royalties, reach a broader audience, and use a new set of promotional tools.

Here’s how KDP Select works:

When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund.  The monthly fund for December 2011 is $500,000 and will total at least $6 million in 2012.  If you haven’t checked it out already, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a collection of books that eligible US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates.

You’ll also now have access to a new set of promotional tools, starting with the option to promote your KDP Select-enrolled titles for FREE for up to 5 days every 90 days.

How your share of the monthly fund is calculated:

Your share of the monthly fund is based on your enrolled titles’ share of the total number of borrows across all participating KDP titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP titles are 100,000 in December and your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in December.  Enrolled titles will remain available for sale to any customer in the Kindle Store and you will continue to earn your regular royalties on those sales.

What this means to you:

KDP Select gives you access to a whole new source of royalties and readers- you not only benefit from a new way of making money, but you also get the chance to reach even more readers by getting your book in front of a growing number of US Amazon Prime customers: readers and future fans of your books that you may have not had a chance to reach before! Additionally, the ability to offer your book for free will help expand your worldwide reader base.

How to enroll:

KDP Select is available for titles participating in both the 70% and 35% royalty options.  You can immediately start by enrolling a single title, your whole catalog, or anything in between.

If you’re interested in enrolling a title that’s already uploaded, simply click “Enroll” next to the book in your Bookshelf. To enroll multiple titles that are already uploaded, select the boxes next to any number of titles, then click “Actions” and choose “Enroll these books in KDP Select.” The titles you choose will be enrolled immediately.

If you’re interested in enrolling a new title, simply check the “Enroll this book in KDP Select” box while submitting details about your book and proceed to publish the book as you normally would. For new titles, enrollment takes effect once the book is available for sale on our website.

To learn more about KDP Select, visit: http://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect

Amazon, Ebook Borrowing/Lending, Ebooks

109 Comments to “Announcing KDP Select for KDP Authors & Publishers”

  1. I’m in. Nook is irrelevant to my income stream, er, trickle, and I don’t use Smashwords.

    • So am I, and for the same reasons.

      • That depresses me quite a bit, to be honest. I’m not a Kindle owner and I’m not a fan of reading books on my ipod now that I’ve got a Kobo reader. I don’t see a point in cutting off readers just because they’ve decided to buy something that’s not Amazon.

        • Well in my case, and possibly K.W.’s too, I’m not cutting anyone off. My books are only on Amazon, so nothing has changed except I might get a bit more exposure from folks browsing the library titles. I’m not sure how I’m denying anyone the opportunity to read a book tomorrow that they could have read today.

          • Why wouldn’t you be on B&N? Just curious. I found PubIt as easy to upload to as KDP. Last month I sold 140 copies of my short story on B&N. Yes, fewer than Amazon, but nothing to sneeze at. 🙂

            • I’m just getting started on the publishing end, and did have considerably more problems with the way epub interpreted my markup. Others of my acquaintance have had similar issues with getting the same level of good-looking book after conversion to epub.

              Just different tricks to learn, and I will, but after some initial false starts, I was putting off wrestling with epub formatting stuff until after the first of the year. So 90 days exclusivity isn’t going to markedly affect anything for me. Going forward, I’ll pick and choose titles to enter into the program as it suits me.

  2. It’s important to keep in mind that each Prime account can only check out *one* book per month. Are they going to choose an unknown self-pub title, or the new, really expensive, NYT bestselling author’s book for their single check-out? Just saying. 🙂 I passed on this one for now.

    • That’s what I thought the big downside was, too.

    • Big 6 books are not included – all except for 5,000 titles Amazon hand-picked which they are choosing to pay full price for every time someone rents them out. That money doesn’t come out of the indie pot.

      But that’s good and bad news, as the fact that they then *might* use their rental on your book could end up cannibalizing your sales as the link will be right there on your book page.

      • I’m not saying included in the $ pot, but included in the Prime lending library. Readers can choose ONE title per month – and there are still a *number* of Big 6 titles in the library, as well as Amazon’s own imprints. Competition for a checkout is pretty tough, imo.

    • That’s actually a good reason to get in on it early — because there won’t be a wide selection at first. Those who do this right away will get more of a kick out of it than late comers.

      And the fact that you only have to be exclusive for 90 days makes it more attractive… and yet not attractive enough. If the exclusivity period were 30 days, I’d consider it.

      It isn’t that I make huge amounts of money elsewhere, but I do make at least a third of my income from all of the other sources combined. And for an odd, off-genre writer like me, that extra exposure is important.

      Still, I will be thinking about it, and waiting to see how it shakes out and whether they change the terms.

      • Same here. I’m still down in the “pocket change” sales, because I’m all 99c short stories right now (the novels have their covers being worked on), and because I get better percentages on that from Smashwords and the places they “ship” (transmit?) to… Well, even with sales about equivalent to the Smashwords ones alone, I’m not making as much from the Amazon ones. It doesn’t make me want to be exclusive, nope. (And I’m getting the odd trickle in from Sony and B&N, so that adds nicely.)

        I’m mildly baffled by why Amazon would significantly benefit from the exclusivity. Someone with Amazon Prime membership isn’t going to borrow a book, read it on their Kindle, and go buy it on B&N, are they? Or are they significantly worried about iPad owners borrowing on the Kindle app and buying on other apps? …does that even work?

    • Quite a few apparently are choosing that indie novel or so the reports on Kindleboards seem to indicate. I must admit they aren’t choosing the single title I have enrolled, but that wasn’t why I chose to enroll.

      A lot of us were interested in the ability to make our novel free.

    • Remember this is most likely the thin end of the wedge. The Kindle Owners’ Library is one book per month now but will likely rise.

  3. I’m opting out. My first book (the first in a series) has been surging at B&N since the beginning of the month. Not sure why, but pulling it off right now sure seems like a bad idea when I’m selling as many over there as I am at Amazon.

    If I was starting a new series that hadn’t been published yet, I might consider it. I’ll be interested to see what indie authors have to say about their experience with the program. I’m a Prime customer myself, and I think my first instinct would be to “check out” those releases from the big publishers that I don’t want to spend the money on, but we’ll see what kind of exposure people get.

  4. There’s a great thread on the pros and cons on Kindle Boards http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,94621.0.html

    One author has estimated that 14,000 books have been entered already.

    I think we will hit 50,000 soon enough – meaning the average title will earn $10 a month.

    I’m staying well away from this, but wish anyone luck who participates.

    • Payments are determined by the number of times a given title is borrowed, with the number of overall borrowings factored in. The fund isn’t divided according to enrollment numbers. If your title isn’t borrowed, it earns nothing even though you’re enrolled. The actual amount authors are likely to receive is a complete unknown. At least that’s my reading of the FAQs.

      • I think David’s $10/month number is still worth looking at, Patricia. Considering that most of the fund will probably go to bigger names and pricier books, it’s important to note that actual income for indie authors will probably be quite small.

        If you want to see enrollment as a promotional or advertising tool for your titles, that’s a very valid reason to take part, but for authors earning more than $10/month through Amazon and other platforms, enrollment could be detrimental and very limiting.

        • But participants’ books will still be for sale, at least on Amazon. This program isn’t offered as a replacement for selling; it’s added-on to what we’ve already had. I’ll know soon if I lose money or make money via the program, and the good thing about it is that I can opt out if it hurts rather than helps.

      • Hi Patrica,

        Your analysis is correct, by my reading.

        What Amazon are going to do is take the pot of $500,000 and divide it by total number of downloads. That will give them a per-download fee which they will multiply by the number of downloads of your titles and pay you accordingly.

        I invite anyone to run the numbers and show me a plausible scenario where indies can make money out of this. The pot is simply too small and the numbers of titles participating will be too large for it to work out at anything other than a *tiny* per download fee.

        I have huge objections to the way this is set up. A limited pot is crazy. There should be a minimum per download fee that is fair and equitable. This opacity suits nobody except for Amazon – whose outlay is capped. They are risking little and asking us to risk everything for a limited pot. It’s completely one-sided.

        I think calling it a “lending library” is doublespeak too. Amazon wants us to make the analogy with a normal library – as authors have no objections to having their books there, and have positive associations with them as they are not considered to cannibalize sales and in fact can increase them through word of mouth etc. The real analogy here is with a DVD rental service. DVD rentals cannibalize DVD sales.

        I think that whatever promotional benefit will be offset by cannibalizing your own sales. If a Prime member comes across your book the normal way and wants to buy it, they could well just rent it instead – and you will be earning way, way less than if you had sold a copy.

        Then there is the exclusivity, which makes it an instant no for me. Others may sell 99% or whatever on Amazon, and may not think this is a big deal. I’m actively trying to grow sales on other platforms, I have many readers affected by the Amazon surcharge (who will get screwed here), and I am pushing into translations (and Amazon have a much smaller share of the Euro market).

        Just some stuff for everyone to consider. Those who have signed up – I wish you the best of luck with it. I think a small handful will do very well out of it, and I hope you are one of those.


        • The exclusivity was a major turn off for me, too. It’s a knee-jerk “no” at that point. And the international sales are not insignificant. I do have sales at Smashwords, and they are usually from countries where Amazon does not have a presence. I would hate to limit those readers by making my work Amazon exclusive.

          Does anyone know whether this affects paperback editions?

        • Isn’t it fairly clear that the bestsellers that enter this program are going to get a nice windfall?

        • Just a thought regarding your statements on translations, David…

          A different translation of a print book requires a separate ISBN because it’s a different book. Would that not also apply here? I mean, if you translate My Book into French, and it is called Mon Livre in French, the title is different, so 1, they wouldn’t catch it by same-name crawler bot algorithms, 2, by publishing industry and distributor standards it is a different book with a different label, different royalties, and different placement in the bookstore, and 3, given that publishing contracts are frequently for things like “first world print English rights”, the license for different languages may in fact have been contracted by different parties, which would make exclusivity moot – one party may grant exclusivity to the rights they have paid for and licensed, but not those that they do not “own”. All these things make me think that the terms are unenforceable for different languages because they are different editions.

          Which brings me to my next point: different editons are different books, too. Ever notice how Target has the special edition, special box, special features version of the DVD that just came out? It’s different from the one on Amazon or at Best Buy, but it’s the same movie, despite the “exclusive” packaging. It would be VERY easy to pull a Konrath and make another, special edition of your book. Your normal, English version of My Book could list at $3.99 and be available to prime members via KDP select for lending, exclusive for 90 days. What’s to stop you from releasing another version? My Book Now With Whiz-bangs! could retail for $5.99, be available on all other platforms, include a short story with the same protagonist, and also a transcript of the interview that you did with the criminologist who gave you the insight into the psychosis of Antagonist Bad Guy in My Book. Again, it’s the same thing we’ve seen dozens of times over, and they are considered different books. When the last Harry Potter book came out, hubby ordered the regular hardcover, and I ordered the special hardcover, with full page chapter art and special slipcover case. Same book, two entries on Bowker, two separate things for a bookstore to deal with, two different entries on the general ledger for the publisher, two different entries on the royalty statement for JK Rowling.

          This would also go for stories in an anthology. The stories standalone are a different product from stories in an anthology by the same author,or by several different ones. They couldn’t legally prohibit you from licensing a story to an anthology whose editor signs up for this, and then prevent you from putting the same tale in a collection that didn’t sign up for select and sold on the Nook.

          There is TOTALLY a way to game this system, is all I’m saying. Hollywood and the big publishers are doing it, so why can’t we? 🙂

          • I am so TOTALLY going to do just that. I have a collection of eight short stories (“Erotic Stories” by Lance Greencastle) priced at $2.99 and I was planing on splitting them into four ebooks of two stories each for $0.99 (following the advice of Dean Wesley Smith to “slice my pie into as many slices as I can”)
            I was just about to hit publish on the first $0.99 ebook when I got this email from amazon. Having thought about it over night I am now going to enrol it in this program and see what happens.
            At the very least I can now have my book free on amazon over the holiday season.

            • Ok, digging deeper, the TOC actually has language prohibiting the special content angle, which is beyond bogus. Because of the wording, they may take issue with an anthology angle, too, so one may be hesitant to risk it. However, translations are not specifically prohibited, nor should they be. The TOC refers that the content must be exclusive. If it’s in a particular language, I call that exclusive, since people typically read in only one language, making it a de facto exclusive for most readers. The same tale in another language on another site should not violate exclusivity. However, it will be interesting to see what amazon does… They’ve done strange things with TOC clauses before, and will again. Caution is to be advised, I suppose.

              On another note, there are a lot of non- kindle users and amazon haters out there. This is a certain way to annoy them and lose them as readers.

    • You can’t know that “the average novel will make $10 a month” since you don’t know how many times the average title will be lent.

      • Did I mean median payout? Mean payout? Average payout? I’m terrible with this stuff, always get those three mixed up.

        The point was the pot is fixed at $500k, and it looks like there will be at least 50k books fighting for it.

        I’ve heard there is a hell of a lot of non-fiction junk in there (which should attract no lends), so maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds in terms of titles.

        I’ll be interested to see how it works out for everyone in terms of number of downloads, the per-download fee, and whether the pot changes for January (and how many titles are fighting for it, and how many readers are using this).

  5. I jumped in with both feet, and also opted for the freebie promotions. All my indie titles (mine and those written with John Philpin under the name Sierra Philpin) will be free for five days starting tomorrow.

    Anthea, just because someone chooses some other book over yours doesn’t mean that the lending program can’t lead to sales for you. If others do what I did, they’ll be scrolling through the list even after choosing one to borrow, and making purchases. The list puts your titles in front of eyes that otherwise might not see them. It’s also a way to get you in line for potential royalties from that fund Amazon is setting aside for those whose books are borrowed. If you don’t have your work on any other platform, it’s a no-risk way to get some exposure and possibly some money, too — and if it doesn’t work out for some reason, you can leave the program.

    • Well, I have good sales on other platforms, which also contributes to my resistance to this program. Good point about the ‘eyeballs’ – and good luck to you. I’m curious to hear how it goes! 🙂

      • If I were on other platforms and happy with the results, I’d stay out, too. Thanks for the good wishes.

  6. The exclusivity and the unknown pay-out bothers me, so I won’t be participating at this point in time.

    However, if Amazon wanted to offer me a good baseline amount of money for including my titles, I might consider it. After all, they are asking for an exclusive right to distribute and sell, much like when you sign up with a publisher and grant them exclusive rights to a specific book. I would be losing money from other channels, and I would want some sort of compensation for that. Otherwise, it just looks like another lottery where you might be a big winner, but most likely will get nothing or a small token ‘winning’.

    In another 3 months, I would love to hear the experiences of anyone who participates. For me, I will continue to make my books available to everyone I can, no matter what retailer they prefer to purchase at.

  7. In addition to David’s link to the KB thread, Mark Coker (Smashwords) reacted to it too : http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/12/amazon-shows-predatory-spots-with-kdp.html

    • Quote from Coker: “As some of you history buffs may know, tenant farming, and the abuses of power by landlords, was a primary contributor behind the great Irish potato famine.”

      Yeah, there’s a convincing argument against Amazon business practices, all right.

      • I like Coker, but self-interest was written all over that blog post. He’s calling Amazon’s move predatory, but couldn’t Coker’s “I’ll put your book everywhere” policy be seen as predatory in its own way? It’s an attempt to kill the monster that’s Amazon.

        • If writers were making the same or even a significant fraction of the money from Smashwords that they’re making from Amazon, Coker would have a point. They’re not, and he doesn’t.

      • Mark Coker is the wrong guy doing the right thing. A content aggregator that can simplify pushing to all the various ebook platforms is a good thing, but it’s not good when it comes with such a paternalistic CEO.

        I think most of us have a love/hate relationship with Smashwords. When I found out the only way to work with Smashwords meant putting their name on all my title pages, that was it. It’s not my job to build his brand. Couple that with a Word document meatgrinder that ignores those of us capable of formatting our own ebooks, and I’m left wondering if there’s anybody in this game who DOES respect writers.

        I won’t give anyone exclusivity without cash up front and I’m very interested in seeing a viable competitor take on the Kindle — just to prevent the kind of monopolistic practices Mark claims he’s worried about. But I don’t think Mark objects to monopolies. He just wants to be the monopolist himself, as he already is with several of the smaller distributors that require using Smashwords as an intermediary.

    • What a surprise. A competitor doesn’t like what Amazon is doing. Doesn’t mean he is wrong of course, but it does mean I’d take any of his arguments with a big helping of salt.

      • Right. And he made it sound like it’ll be oh-so-hard for us to figure out the Bookshelf options on KDP now. Totally untrue. There are changes, but they’re clear and easy to figure out in seconds.

  8. Seems to me that perhaps the hidden jewel here is the new ability to take your book free for 5 days over a 90 day period. Even if you get nothing from the lending slush fund this feature alone might make the program worthwhile for specific books provided you have additional content you can drive users to.

    • It is a boon, for sure. However, I think we may see a deluge of free books, and a deluge of free books right now, which may dilute the effectiveness of “free” in general. We’ll see.

      • Yep, I think there’ll be a flood of free titles starting tomorrow. But there’ll also be a lot of authors being looked at for the first time ever, if only as potential readers scroll past their covers.

        “Free” lost its effectiveness for me a long time ago — mostly because I’ve downloaded so many that I’ll never get around to reading. There are zillions of new Kindle owners out there who aren’t as jaded or overloaded. I expect the downloads to be massive.

  9. PG – your opinion is needed!

    The KDP Select agreement language states the following:

    During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.

    Does this not raise a red flag with respect to ANY of an author’s other works, especially those that are part of the same series? Without clarification, could not Amazon claim that this clause prohibits anyone from having any other digital works up on any other site?

    • Ohhh, yes, that’s a good question: content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially is one of those phrases that we’re supposed to be wary of, when the Big Six contracts have it, yes?

  10. This must be why they won’t make my book free via matching any more. If so, that sucks.

    I ran the numbers and I discovered that all of my other books sell better when that particular book is free. It benefits both Amazon and me when that book is free and remains free.

    But it doesn’t benefit them as much as luring people into this program, so I guess that’s that.

    • I enrolled the single novel that I want at least at times to be free. Admittedly, you can’t have it free all the time, but being free all the time is not a great benefit to Amazon, and I can hardly fault them for that.

      We have long been asking for the ability to make our novels free without having to go through the “price matching” dance. This does give us at least slightly more direct control over pricing and that is a very good thing.

      I hope that this will lead Amazon to decide to allow us to do a temporary price reduction which would also be a very good thing. Amazon has pretty strongly indicated that there will be tweaks and aditional benefits to this.

  11. As an author, it might be okay, but I’ll wait and see to how other indies do with it. However, KDP Select seems extremely predatory toward the small ebook distributors (like Smashwords). In the grand scheme of things, a monopoly in tech is never a good thing.

    • Never mind the fact that you’re cutting a chunk of the e-reading public out of the equation by going Amazon only.

      Or did Amazon add a .epub option while I wasn’t looking?

      • haha, Amazon most definitely did NOT go EPUB.

        • I didn’t think so!

          I just always find it to be sad and a little shocking that folks ignore anything Not-Amazon (which is to say anything EPUB) and cut themselves off from readers who didn’t get locked into the Amazon ecosystem.

          Clearly, though, there are authors who have and will find the invitation attractive.

          • But you can now upload an epub in the KDP publishing interface.

            • Yes, you can upload an .epub file in the KDP publishing interface. It is then converted by Amazon into a .mobi format. The .epub is not used for sale anywhere on Amazon.

            • Uploading an epub isn’t the same as being able to SELL an epub on Amazon.

              The former is good for a writer who’s already got an epub file put together. The latter is bad for a reader who uses a Nook, a Kobo, or anything else of that stripe.

            • I KNOW it’s not the same as selling it. But at least it’s a step in the right direction. Before, Amazon didn’t even recognize epub, which is used are far more devices and standard. My bet is that IF Nook continues to take market share, they will suddenly allow Kindles to read epub…

            • Elizabeth–it’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? Though if it becomes a two-way street, which is to say the ability to go to Amazon, buy a book, and read it on a Nook or a Kobo, or go to Barnes and Noble and read something on a Kindle, that’d be too much like a competitive marketplace again, wouldn’t it?

              *sigh* But we can hope…

    • Like it or not, Amazon has too much competition to be anything like a monopoly. Being a heavyweight competitor does not make a company a monopoly and I dislike seeing “scare-words” being thrown around.

  12. For me, participation in the lending library is an experiment. Could be a couple of people will see my book covers that would not have done. It can’t hurt me, and if it helps, that’s gravy.

    I don’t think Amazon is a monopoly, Paul, though of course you weren’t necessarily claiming that it was. It’s certainly a two-ton competitor that ought to be engendering some robust competition. Certainly legacy publishers have no idea how to compete with it (Stop driving away authors? Pay better royalties? Issue good contracts?), and I don’t see Mark Coker as some sort of savior of the indies, either. We’ll just have to see what the future brings: most likely something we haven’t thought of yet.

  13. My reluctance to join is that I DO make money via Smashwords distribution. Sales have slowed, especially on Barnes and Noble, which seems to actively dislike indies, but it’s still enough to offset the (possible) income from rentals. What would be really exciting is if this move by Amazon prompted some better treatment of indies at these other outlets.

  14. There is no way in hell I’m signing up for this. I thought Amazon was the new way forward for the little-guy i.e. indie authors. But they just want the monopoly on publishing. Sad times.

  15. This does not make sense. I realize that you “may” get exposure (for very little revenue, and that’s an if) but at the cost of excluding your e-book from any other sales channel? $0.99 from Smashwords is better than $0.00 from Amazon. I must say, hope is eternal.

    • Not everyone sells through Smashwords, DG. I may or may not get revenue. Being in the lending program doesn’t keep me from selling books, so it’s not a net loss unless I’m losing money somewhere else, which I’m not. I get the “if.” I’m not rising anything here, and I have no expectations to disappoint.

  16. …or rather “risking.” Darned editing widget…

  17. I took a look at this when I saw it on Amazon this morning as I checked my numbers. I read through everything and have decided to treat it this way:

    1) I’m not going to opt in with any of my new, digital-original novels—at least not on first release. I get good enough sales off my own website that the exclusivity bothers me. After sales slow, I might consider putting the first book of a series into the program.

    2) I am seriously considering putting (as a test) one of my backlist books into the program. Sales have been slower for me on those titles, so as suggested by some above, allowing folks to borrow them is a promotional tool. I’m not really looking for a lot of revenue from their being borrowed.

    3) ANY title I put into the program will have two things: a) a full list (with active links) for all my others books and b) a sample chapter and link to another, non- lending book, as a teaser at the end. I have found the latter to be a very effective technique for selling. Obviously this works very well with books in a series.

    4) I would make sure to rotate books in and out of the program, leaving none in for longer than 90 days in any one calendar year. This allows me to promote when they are available to Prime members, which makes it an event they pay attention to. Since I am looking at having the books borrowed as a promotional tool, not a revenue stream, I need the “event” aspect of things going for me to attract notice.

    Because the lending only goes to Prime members, I’d love to see a breakdown of purchases by Prime and non-Prime members. I know this is data we’ll never get, but it would be interesting. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are some genres which are favored by Prime members over others. Knowing which are which would make a big difference in how I chose to proceed.

    Mike Stackpole

    • Yeah, I am considering trying this on the right book in future. I’m even thinking of writing a novelette or short story collection or something for it.

      Maybe by the time I get around to that, the program will have settled in and there will be different terms. (The KDP program itself made some nice adjustments over time, after all.)

    • I agree that we’re likely to see adjustments over time. I put one novel in out of the six I currently have out because it is the one I think will benefit from (possible) additional exposure in the lending library and the ability to go free for a short time when its sequel comes out.

      But as always, it’s essential to look at what is best for the individual author. I’m not going to worry about who is a monopoly. Market forces will take care of that (or not). I’ll try to do what is best for me as you will for yourself.

      I like the idea of a sample chapter. When the sequel comes out, I’ll add that. It already has links. Looks like a good strategy. 🙂

  18. I probably make as much through Smashword sales as I do through Amazon, almost. And that doesn’t include B&N sales.

    Plus, for me to do any current titles, I’d have to remove from Smashwords and watch and wait for them to all disappear from the various stores before I could even switch. So I think when I’m ready to publish my next book, I’ll consider then based upon people’s experiences, whether to run it through the 90 day period there before selling elsewhere, or forget it.

  19. Got a question for Passive Guy:

    On the KDP communities, someone asserted this:

    “- Exclusivity of sale rights for any length of time is anti-trust.
    – Disallowing sales by the author of the author’s digital content to other vendors is anti-trust.”

    The person may have been speaking in exaggerated moral principle rather than as a point of law (he also called it a ponzi scheme) but since what is and is not possible antitrust has been a topic of discussion lately…. do you have any opinion on this?

  20. I think this could benifit new authors a lot, by that I mean the people getting 10 downloads a month who are just starting out. They will be in a limited pool (I’ve heard quotes of 10k or so at the moment, but say 50k by the end of the month) across multiple genre’s. Sci-fi ebooks alone on Amazon are 30K+ titles. I’m not sure if its worth giving up any real income on other sites, but if you have no income it seems a useful promotional tool.

  21. Until proven otherwise I see this as a promotional channel, not a money making opportunity. After thinking this over I’m doing the following-

    1. My wife has a book that she put out several years ago. We put it up on Kindle and Nook earlier this year. Sales have been non-existent. I pulled it off BN today and signed it up for the program. In her case we have nothing at all to lose.

    2. I will be publishing a science fiction trilogy shortly in ebook format only. I considered signing the books up for the program and decided there is no upside. If one person contacts the author and asks why he can’t buy it at BN during the 3 month period the author isn’t going to be happy with me as a publisher.

    3. What I will consider is after the series sales drop off making it an exclusive to see if that boosts sales. Basically try to squeeze the last drops out of it. I suspect by the time that happens there will be lots of feedback here and elsewhere about the practicality of that option.

    4. I have an upcoming non-fiction book and I was already planning to promote it using a couple of shorter articles about related topics that could sell for $0.99. These I would certainly consider signing up for the program and use them to drive traffic to the main book. My only worry would be that no one will use their once a month shot on what amounts to a 20-30 page short. However might be worth it to get those 5 days of give away pricing.

  22. My advice is to see what everyone THINKS Joe Konrath is saying (it doesn’t matter what he is actually saying) and then do the exact opposite.

    I don’t know why everyone automatically assumes this is a monstrous exploitation of authors. Every single maneuver Amazon does is always met with rampant paranoia in the indie community, the giant lifting its boot-heel. But the reality is that every one of those moves have ended up with more money for more authors than at any time in history.

    What if, instead of Amazon pouring champagne on the heads of starving writers, they actually say “This has worked out better than planned and we’re upping the outlay to $12 million for 2012”? They didn’t go into this without some risk. Why does everyone assume the worst when Amazon singlehandedly created the indie market and gave us a huge audience and untold millions of dollars?

    And this is inevitable. Publishers should have done it five years ago and then they wouldn’t be whining about Amazon. Sure, I am an Amazon homer, but after 15 years of writing, Amazon is the first entity that I felt any sort of true partnership with. Yes, the warm fuzzy of the megacorporation. I’m in.

    • Hey Scott,

      I think the program is a no-brainer for some authors, especially ones with “partnerships” with Amazon to really make the most out of this program.

      I don’t think authors who have different sales figure situations who are taking a moment to really consider all aspects of the program are just giving into a paranoia as you call it. It’s smart business to think about the ramifications of ANY business deal as it relates to your writing business, not the author next door.

      For me, it’s silly. I only have one book out. Free won’t help me. As far as “rentals” or “borrows” go, my book would be on one of the last pages. And my book is $2.99. I’m not in this to be a best-seller overnight, in fact, I would prefer a best-seller breakthrough on my fourth of fifth book so that the others get an uptick in sales at the same time (we can dream, right?).

      Plus, I am trying to put my book into MANY places, like David Gaughran. If I was 100% honest, I don’t really want the title “Kindle Bestseller.” I want and putting the right step stones into place to become “Elizabeth Ann West, International Bestseller.”

      I’m happy for you and your success, and I think participation is a very smart move on your part. Your books will probably see significant downloads from Amazon Prime numbers, it’s on the very front page of the lending program. But for those of us excited when we break the top #100,000 of Paid in Kindle, I don’t think the KDP Select Lending program is automatically a smart partnership.

      • But a lot of authors are acting with paranoia and going around screaming “Monopoly! Monopoly!” Some are opting out because the look at their own sales figures and think it is not the right choice for them.

        Those are two very different groups. I refuse to make the choice based on paranoia. I have 99.9% of the time been benefited by what Amazon has done and looking at this, I see benefits.

  23. I did try this with one of .99 cent books I hadn’t gotten around to putting up on Smashwords yet. It’s a good seller on Amazon, so it will be interesting to see just what else the lending library generates.

    It’s only for 90 days so what could it hurt? And I can opt out at any time.

    • Anne, you can opt out at any time, yes. Just keep in mind that you are bound to the 90 day exclusivity even if you do opt out. And if you break that rule, your KDP payments could be withheld (and they even have the power to suspend your account altogether).

      Good luck!

  24. A lot of great comments on this thread. It will be interesting to hear if anyone has any success or otherwise with this program.

  25. 27,000 self-published titles have been registered for KDP Select in the first 24 hours or so. It will be interesting to track that number. It should easily hit 50,000 this weekend, and possibly even top out at 100,000 over the next week or so. Presumably, this will lead Amazon to increase the pot for January (as there is little to play for with those numbers). We’ll see.

    I’m staying away, but will be watching it all with great interest. If they could get rid of the exclusivity component, and restructure the compensation, I would be interested. Amazon seem to be taking a lot of feedback on board with this program, so it may well evolve into something more attractive (for me).

    It will also be interested to see what ancillary benefits people gain from the extra exposure in the Library, or whether they feel it cannibalized their sales.

  26. I put both of my books in this option.I’m not looking to get a big portion of that $500,000 pot of gold, I’m looking for more exposure, and I think this could be one way of achieving that goal. Everyone has to look at their sales numbers overall and decide if it’s something that makes sense for them. My situation isn’t going to be same as another author’s. I will not browbeat anyone into joining the KDP Select program, but by the same token, I would hope others realize that those of us who have joined have weighed the pros and cons.

    For me, it was an easy decision. I simply did the math and realized that my sales at all other sites combined, came to LESS than 1% of my Amazon sales. I really have nothing to lose by pulling out of Pubit, and even less to lose by pulling out of Smashwords. At least short term.

    I’m hoping this program will force Pubit and Apple to take a look at how they deal with self-published authors and perhaps take a proactive stance and attempt to woo authors back. Wouldn’t it be great for everyone if this changes for the better how Indie authors are treated?

  27. Writer Beware just wrote up a post on this program.


    Apparently, Amazon includes an exclusivety clause and a non-compete clause in that language. Victoria Straus even referred readers back here to the Passive Voice to read about the evils of non-competition clauses.

  28. Sorry PG, I think this is a bunch of crap. If one of the ‘Big Six’ pulled a stunt like this we’d be all over them. Whether accurate or not, this implies that Amazon wants to become the ONLY player in the game, the new gatekeeper – this is what I said a month ago. I don’t like it one bit.

  29. Just so we’re clear, I put the message up because a lot of authors were discussing the Amazon lending program after I got an earlier tip about it.

    Right now, I don’t think any of Mrs. PG’s books are going into the lending program. Depending on reports from authors who are in the program, I might consider recommending that she put the first book in a series into the program for a 90 day try-out to see if that gooses sales of others in the series. She’s not making serious money from Nook and I’ve sworn off Smashwords until they accept epub files.

  30. I don’t understand the logic of the exclusivity requirements Amazon is imposing here, except as a thumb in the eye of the Agency Modelers. What possible motivation is there for a Prime/Kindle customer to look elsewhere for “competing” offers? I’d be happy to give Amazon the non-exclusive right to lend out my books over a set period as many times as it wanted. Because Amazon has set up a parimutuel system, its losses are fixed, while the promotional upsides for both Amazon Prime and KDP authors are unlimited.

    • My guess is that, in one fell swoop, Amazon greatly increases its advantage in the number of titles it is offering. It’s also taking bestselling indie writers and placing them firmly inside their walled garden. More than 30,000 titles have been entered by indies already – presumably most of those will have also been removed from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. Presumably Amazon sees huge growth in the indie market, and is trying to corner it.

      Also, the fans of these writers will either have to jump through hoops to read their books, or wait 90 days (or more), or switch devices. Given that there is little technical difference between the major dedicated e-readers, something like this could tilt the balance.

      • I agree with David.

        The exclusivity move is really just a marketing technique to promote folks to come to Amazon, buy a Kindle, and join the Prime program.

        Any time you have “exclusive” content, the value of shopping with you is perceived as higher than shopping somewhere else. It doesn’t matter if the consumer doesn’t really want the exclusive content, they just don’t like being left out. And if you buy a Kindle, you get this added benefit of $X of borrowed books for “free.” (X being the aggregate value of 12 of Amazon’s most expensive books in the library.)

        It’s pretty basic marketing and works effectively.

        Mike Stackpole

  31. Hollister Ann Grant

    What stands out to me about Amazon Prime (unless I am misunderstanding something):

    (1) Amazon offers Prime members “A Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.” That means ONE book a month. And that means Prime members are going to borrow Stephen King’s latest book for their one freebie, not yours.

    (2) Amazon gives authors who enroll in the program 5 free days per book per 90 day period. That’s 5 free days for a readership of PRIME members, not for everybody who shops on the website. That’s a poor man’s free compared to the huge downloads you can rack up on a book that’s free for everybody.

  32. Hollister, so what if Prime members opt for the Stephen King books in the lending library? That doesn’t mean the indie loses out. Prime members may well decide to purchase lower-cost books that caught their eye while they were browsing through the choices. Think of the lending library as a showcase for your work, presenting it to people who are actively looking for something to read. Prime members are not casual shoppers. If they’re plunking down $79 per year for a deal on shipping, they’re people who are willing to spend money.

    A correction to your second point: When participants in the KDP Select program offer their books for free, anyone with a Kindle or Kindle app can grab them. There’s no need to be a Prime customer. It’s just the lending library that’s limited to those with a Prime account.

    • Sorry about repeating what M.P. said about the free books. That reply didn’t show up when I hit reply to Hollister’s post and the edit gadget isn’t working (you hear that, PG?) so I couldn’t remove it.

      • Sorry, Patricia, I thought I had the edit feature fixed. I’ll look at it again.

        • I’m also having problems with old posts not showing up in the comments until after they’ve been around for a while (going by the posting times). I clear cache and reload the page, but it still happens.

    • Hollister Ann Grant

      Patricia, thanks for your comment. I am trying to be really sure I understand the program before I pull my work off Barnes & Noble.

      Amazon’s Prime FAQ page says: “Books borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library can only be read on a Kindle device, not on Kindle reading apps.”

      Yesterday a friend signed up for the program and her book’s free price looked like it was just for Prime members, unless we misunderstood (the Prime symbol was next to the free price). I’ve had great success with making my books free and want to be 100 percent sure that the free in this program means free for the whole store.

      • Hollister Ann Grant

        Edit feature wouldn’t cooperate. Here’s the Amazon link that says Kindles only, no Kindle apps:


        • Tha free to Prime members notice refers to only Amazon’s lending library. It’s saying that only Prime members are eligible to borrow a title from the lending library for free. They can do this once a month. Books can be kept by the borrower forever, or until they borrow another book in a different month. And, yes, the loan has to go to the Prime member’s actual Kindle, not to another device that’s using the Kindle app.

          The free promo option also included in Kindle Select is something else entirely. It allows authors to offer their books for free for five days per title (all at once, or in any other configuration of days) per 90-day term. If authors take advantage of that promotional tool, anyone with a Kindle or Kindle app can “buy” whatever that author offers for $0.00. A friend with just the app, not a Kindle, “purchased” a couple of my free titles Friday with no problem. Also, there’s a link to the PC app right under the buy button. The page that pops up also provides a link to more apps for phones.

          • Hollister Ann Grant

            Patricia, thanks for the additional comments, especially about your friend’s purchase of a free book. How Amazon structured the free promotion was a big issue for me.

            Now I have to look at Barnes & Noble and decide if it would be worth it to pull the books there. I make almost nothing from Smashwords, Apple, and Sony, but do from B&N.

  33. From what I see here in the comments there is a strong underpinning of “book as event thinking”. What do I mean by this? Well, this is the idea that your book is special in some way. I have over sixty titles out with many more to follow. Each one I wrote for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. No one of them is special even if it sells well. Books sell well because the story is judged by readers as good. Nothing more.

    For decades NY has conditioned us to the book as event thinking. Many indie writers continue to promote this idea. What we need to do as writers is clean this thinking out and write the next book. And write the best story we can today. If you keep doing this then each book will get better and better. Practice makes us better. Athletes know this why not writers?

    So, how does this relate to Amazon’s new program? Pro authors know that they will write the next book so they’ll happily enter this program and give exclusive rights to Amazon for 90 days if it increases visibility and promotes other work. If your reader enjoys the book they read under this program they will seek out your other work. If an indie author only has two titles available such a program makes no sense.

    Thus the book in the program becomes a sales tool not an “event”. I have five books coming out in the next few months and I’m thinking of giving Amazon exclusive rights for one to promote my other work. It makes sense to me as much as the loss leader strategy, which I have also used with success.

    I think it’s worth a try then opt out after 90 days.

    • I’m sorry but it’s not “book as event” thinking if I have calculated my current non-Amazon sales to be 14% (and growing each month) and I am skeptical that the benefits I may receive from KDP Select will be worth considerably less.

      It’s also not “book as event” thinking if I have pulled in 50% of my revenue from non-Amazon sources and KDP Select demands exclusivity.

      Nor is it “book as event” thinking if I estimate that at least half of the sales of my top-selling title derive from a promotional strategy that would be forbidden under the KDP Select ToS.

      Finally, it’s not “book as event” thinking to refuse to abandon my readers who live in the countries where Amazon either levies a $2 surcharge on all e-book purchases (half of Europe and all of South America) or refuses to let them purchase e-books at all (most of Asia, the Middle East, and almost all of Africa).

      • I had to chime in again because I got the email with new comments on this thread about two minutes before I got the email notifying me of a Smashwords purchase.

        Here’s the thing. It’s not “book as event” thinking to opt out of this when you have books selling in other stores. So far this month, almost 30% of my sales have been in non-Amazon markets. When I am trying to cultivate international readers, I’m going to opt out. When I am looking to delve into as many publishing markets as I can, I am going to opt out. When I have readers emailing or tweeting me asking when my books will be available in Diesel or Kobo or iBooks, I am going to opt out. It makes no sense to limit myself to one channel.

        Frankly, even if I had a new work I could use as a promotion, I can already anticipate the pissed-off emails from current readers who live in non-Amazon countries or don’t like to buy from Amazon. I’m not willing to alienate existing readers to court new ones until I see some more evidence of this program’s effectiveness.

        That’s not anti-Amazon or narrow-minded thinking. I published independently, in part, so I could do this my own way. I wish others taking part in this program the best of luck. I hope they see success. Right now, it’s not for me.

  34. There’s one final aspect of this whole deal worth chewing over.

    I’ve heard several reports now that borrowings from the Lending Library positively affect your sales ranking (in the way that a sale does). I’ve no idea if this is an intended or an unintended consequence, but it’s happening.

    I’m also not sure how I feel about that.

    • I feel that it should affect your ranking since it cannibalizes your sales, David. Not sure if it’s accurate and they could change it. I do wonder if the 5 days free sales will go under the “Free” ranking or under the “Sales” ranking though. That is something I’m concerned about. One of my reasons for going with Select is to raise the ranking on A Kingdom’s Cost when its sequel comes out so obviously I’m concerned about how that works.

    • David, I don’t know if that’s true about the lending because I’ve never had anyone borrow one of my books. However, it is true about the giveaways — sort of. The ranking is separated to indicate (right there on the catalog page) whether your title’s ranking is in the free part of the Kindle Store or the paid part. Then there’s an odd off-shoot from that: even if your giveaways’ ranking is just in the free section, its free versus paid status isn’t indicated when it comes to its ranking in its categories. I’m doing a lousy job of explaining this, probably, but if you look at a catalog page for a book that’s free, you’ll see how Amazon handles it.

      Yesterday my giveaways put some of my titles in the number one or two spot in their categories. That means the titles hit a whole different set of eyes — those who aren’t necessarily looking for cheap or even free books, but rather those who are shopping by category.

  35. I know there have been a lot of discussion about KDP Select and the Lending Library. The pros and cons have all been intelligently argued for both here and throughout the blogosphere. Most writers have either made their mind up already or have decided to wait and see how others get on.

    This post is not about that. It’s about how subscription models (like KDP Select) are going to play a big part in the future, and how we need to start figuring out how we value (and sell) our work under these models.

    I argue that the terms of KDP Select aren’t as good as they could be, and that the best way to improve those terms is to withhold participation until they improve.

    Even if you disagree with that conclusion, I think you may find it useful to consider subscription models in general, and how we can ensure we get compensated fairly for our work in the future.

    Whatever your views on KDP Select (and there are valid points on both sides), I would love to hear your thoughts on subscription models in general, and how we can fight for good terms in the future (and we will need to).

    My post is here:


  36. In my book, “How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author”, I talk a fair bit about the BUSINESS of being an author….and frankly, so long as they are offering a piece of pie commensurate to the whole, rather than a set amount per piece I serve up, I’m not interested in whoring myself to their program. Subscription based service is likely going to dominate the industry at some point…and soon…. BUT… I want to know what I am being paid per unit, BEFORE I agree to terms.

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