If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a writer, so I won’t need to go into the details around Amazon’s KDP Select program, announced this past December. If you’re not familiar with it, a Google search on “Amazon KDP Select” should point you in the right direction.
That said, the announcement stirred up a lot of rabble. There were many cool heads prevailing, pragmatically discussing the pros and cons of the program and how they may or may not benefit from it. There were also as many or more frightened Chicken Littles clucking about, predicting the inevitable fall of the sky.
I decided to shack up with the first camp and evaluate the program for a while to decide what was best for me and my readers. I’ve watched my sales on Barnes and Noble increase since then, but not by much. This past January was my best month ever and yet I only sold 10 copies there. Compare that to 1,041 copies sold via Amazon. Do the math and you’ll see B&N accounts for less than 1% of my sales.
Smashwords, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and Sony account for 0%. I haven’t sold a single book on any of these platforms.
Many decried the 90-day exclusivity agreement required by Amazon for KDP Select. I can see that as a viable argument if an author is actually selling on the other platforms. I’m not, so I might as well be exclusive to Amazon, since functionally I already am. By signing the agreement (and making this functional dependency legal) I receive some things from Amazon that I’m not already getting.
First and foremost is the lending program. Prime members will be allowed to “borrow” my books and I’ll get something to the tune of $1.70 for each lend. That’s almost as much as I make on a sale. People who aren’t ready to take the plunge with me can do it for free and I’ll still get paid (and possibly gain a new reader).
I’ll also be allowed to promote my book for free for up to 5 days during the 90-day exclusivity period. I’m not sure how I’ll use this yet, but I have two new releases scheduled for 2012 and those free promotion days might come in handy.
KDP Select inclusion still allows me to make my book available in paperback, so it won’t affect that small group of readers. Since I don’t sell on Kobo, Apple, Diesel, Smashwords, or Sony no readers will be affected by pulling my ebook from their platform.
Who it will affect are Nook owners. It’s unfortunate that they won’t be able to simply purchase the book from Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately B&N seems to provide very little support or promotion of indies, thus I have very few readers there, thus the decision to drop B&N becomes easier.
That said, I sell all my books DRM-free, so they can be purchased on Amazon and then converted to ePub via Calibre. The resulting epub file can be sideloaded onto a Nook. It’s a pain, but there is a way.
A lot of people are afraid of Amazon getting too powerful. I suppose I am too, but someone always comes along to knock down those who become too arrogant. Look at Microsoft. Ten years ago they ruled the world. Then came Apple back from the dead and Google from out of nowhere. The game has changed now. Amazon is taking this step to retain its number one spot. As long as they continue to take care of their authors and their customers, they’ll keep it. They’ll keep it because they earned it. If not, someone else will take it from them.
Will KDP Select provide me more exposure? I hope. Will it procure more readers for me? Possibly. Self-publishing is about experimentation and taking calculated risks, so I feel it’s at least worth taking the 90 day plunge to see how it plays out.