Thursday, 8 December 2011

KDP Select - Amazon's offer to indies

Amazon has just launched KDP Select; any books you sign up to the scheme can be borrowed by US Amazon Prime members through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Main features of KDP Select are:
  • Your books must not be digitally available anywhere but Amazon
  • You sign up for three months at a time, after which you can opt out
  • You are entitled to make your book free for 5 days out of each 90 day period
  • There is a fixed amount of money which will be split between books which have been lent out each month; you will receive this amount divided by number of loans x loans of your book. Amazon will provide $6 million for 2012.
I've signed up for this, taking my books down from Smashwords, where I sell few copies. I like to be in at the start with new ventures, though I suspect the writers who do best will be US indie bestsellers with multiple books.

The encouraging thing  is that it shows Amazon appreciates its self-publishers, who these days are a big slice of the publishing industry. Some best-selling US indies were consulted by them about the scheme before it was finalized. This is more proof that we are a force to be reckoned with in publishing, and a great deal more welcome - however it works out in practice - than Penguin's recent attempt to profit from would-be self-publishers. 

I also can't help wondering, if Amazon is doing this for us, what else might it have up its sleeve for the future?


  1. Thanks for this - I, too, got the long email in very small print. I was trying to unpick what they were getting at, and I'm still not sure I know - but, given how few copies sell on Smashwords, it makes sense to give it a go.

  2. 31 of the best selling KDP authors have already signed up 129 books, according to the press release.

    Amazon is just so much more forward-looking than the Big Six.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this, Lexi. I received three KDP emails overnight, all saying the same thing but from different angles and after reading the scare-mongering yesterday, was confused. The opt-out option at 3 months is fair. I'll give it a go. Nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  4. Prue, it's not fair! I only got one email, and that arrived after I'd read about the initiative on Kindleboards and signed up. Amazon must be really keen to have you on board...

  5. Wouldn't THAT be nice! Maybe they can boost my sales into the realm of fantasy over Christmas!

  6. Ah, one can dream...and most of us do :o)

  7. Lexi, this comment was on FB. what do you think of the point she raises?

    "Debbie Bennett: Remember that even if you *do* unpublish from smashwords, smashwords keeps a copy of your book so that people who have already bought it can download another copy - it says that specifically on the smashwords site. So you can *never* get rid of your books completely on smashwords so - technically - you would always be in violation of KDP's t&c.

    So you could only do this with a book that has never been published to smashwords."

  8. I'm sure Amazon is aware of this technicality, and isn't going to get nitpicky about it. After all, it operates in a similar way - in the Terms and Conditions it says: A customer who borrows your Digital Book can continue to keep it checked out for as long as they want, including after your Digital Book’s participation in KDP Select ends.

  9. Another "initiative" by Amazon, which is the subject of an opinion piece in the New York Times by author Richard Russo, is their program encouraging people to download an application on their smartphones that allows them to scan the barcode of a product in a store to compare prices with Amazon.

    Lovely for saving a few bucks, eh?

    As someone who has been in retail, however unenthusiastically, for a long time, may I present the scenario that this creates? As a matter of fact I have already been witness to it. Shopper comes into store, takes up salesperson's time, uses salesperson's expertise to get information not available from Amazon, scans product and places order with Amazon to save two dollars on a forty-five dollar product.

    This is not part of a world I am terribly enthusiastic about promoting or condoning. Eventually we pay for our choices, whether through the marketplace or the polling place. When we choose easy (letting our voting decisions be determined by what passes for "news media" nowadays is a sterling example) we take the very real chance it will come back and bite us in the ass before too long. Pardon my language.

  10. Yes, I don't think much of that idea either, Alan, even if we all do it already in a less formal manner. I remember my mother, a fashion buyer, being incensed by a woman who wrote down the stitches in a crochet garment so she could go home and make it herself. When I had my Covent Garden jewellery stall, occasionally a passer-by would point at one of my pieces and say to her friend, "You could make that..." But at least in that instance I knew she was mistaken :o)

    I am worried by all the discounts I am offered in my email from shops - pre-Christmas too, which used to be their busiest time - and I'm not much of a consumer. I fear for the future of the high street.