Tuesday, December 13, 2011

KDP Select, Amazon Lending Library and my thoughts.

Last week, Amazon announced a new program for authors and publishers called KDP select.  You can read all about it from other places, but basically, if an author or publisher opts in for this program, in exchanged for allowing Amazon Prime subscribers who own Kindles the ability to "rent" your book for free. (limit one rental per month).  In exchange, the content provider is compensated for these rentals with a $500,000 a month pool divided equally among number of rentals.  100,000 rentals equals $5 per rental.  A million books get rented then each rental is worth 50c.  Also the content provider is allowed to set their book price as free for a maximum of 5 days.  This all revolves around a 90 day cycle.  Oh, and the part that has the internet's pants on fire is that content for KDP Select has to be Amazon exclusive.  No selling the eBook (paper books are exempt) anywhere else, even your own blog.

I don't want to write a rant or debate about Amazon's business moves to become Skynet or Umbrella Corporation.  But after a week of observing, reading, and thinking about KDP Select, here are my thoughts.

First off, no one is going to be effected by this in the same way, so sweeping generalities about the sky is falling from other companies CEO's to scorched earth tactics is meaningless.

I don't see any eBook group reducing the 70% royalty rate they offer.  They all offer it, and the first place to change it will get torn to pieces by the largest group of people who actually know how to write.  Think Netflix when they raised their prices.  These companies are not vested in us in any way.  They don't pay for the cover, editing, advances, print runs, etc.  They provide a download link and take a 30% rake for it.  They even charge the author per download so even that cost is covered.  (10c a book for Requiem).  It's a lot like taxes.  30% just goes to these people and they don't have to do anything.  But 50 million people visit Amazon on a day.  About 35 visit here a day.  Ill give them 30% for that.

I hope to see other companies like Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and others provide better tools and platforms for us to use.  WE make them money, a LOT of money.  We could make them TONS of money if they helped us.  Blogger has better tools than any of these companies.

Tools.  Right now, none of these companies allows someone to upload their book, make sure it's good to go, and then schedule a launch date.  The only day you can let your book go live is the day you upload it.  Try having a launch party for a new book when it takes anywhere from 2 hours to 72 hours from the time you upload your book before it actually goes live.

Price matching across the market is a joke.  Want to put your first book on sale because the next one is coming out.  Easy.  Sale is over and you want it to return to the original price.  Hope you don't mind weeks even months of frustration because Diesel or Kobo is run by dormant vampires and because they still list the sale price, everyone else price matches.

A calender and scheduling tool isn't that much to ask.  If I could properly manage my content, schedule sales, deals, and cross market with Facebook, AdWords, book signings etc.  It would be awesome.  Instead its a huge cluster f**k because 3 weeks after the sale, Kobo finally updates the price, two days later B&N price matches and a week later so does Amazon.  You have lost total control over the pricing of the book.

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon...  You have 6 domains now that have my book, yet my Author Central page is only on one.  I have to manually do this 6 times?  A verified purchase review on the UK site isn't visible in the US?  What if Facebook announced that they had Facebook.de.  Cool, but you now have to maintain and update a separate Facebook page.  Re-upload those "I like to party" pictures etc.  COME ON!  Help me make you money, not create six times the work for me.

Barnes and Noble...  Try finding my book without using my isbn number.  SEO (Search Engine Optimization), hire a 5th grader for a weekend and get with the times.  Its easier to use Google to search your site.  Seriously? look at this picture, where is my first book Requiem?  How did you even get a listing for Guardian?  I haven't even released it yet.  4 results in books.  Amazon has over 200 for the same search in books including Requiem.

Apple.  Sigh.  Every step forward this company seems to sabotage itself back to the dark ages.  You must own a Apple computer to upload a book.  *blink* *blink*.  I guess they are proud to be part of the 1%.  Only 1% of the population uses their computers.  Over 200 million iOS devices out there and everyone uses the Kindle or Nook app.  What is wrong with this picture.

Smashwords....  If your CEO goes on a rant instead of innovating against competition, well...  I wish your company the best of luck.

In conclusion.  KDP Select has shaken things up a bit, but at the root of the issue, fundamental problems remain.  The first company that decides to build a platform of tools for us to use, build relationships with authors, is going to dominate the market.  The first company that takes the time to promote authors is going to win.  I chose to go with Amazon's new program.  It has actually simplified a lot of things.  I don't have to spend hours tweaking my book for each required format or burn extra ISBN numbers.  I don't have to try and herd price matching cats.  I actually, get a schedule-able promotion tool,  My reporting has gone from from 5 reports to two.

Instead of having a fire hose as my only tool.  I traded it for a hammer that came with a carry case.  I wonder what I can do with a hammer...


  1. It seems the more I read about this business, the less I know! Good luck with this new venture, I hope it takes off.

  2. I have me a plan, and like all plans, it has short and long term goals. I just need to get my steampunk short stories and the final novel written. Too busy right now with launching Guardian on the 15th to write.

  3. You know Patrick, the more I read about all this, the more overwhelmed I get. It sure confuses the hell out of me. Publishing is getting more and more tedious.

  4. @Rachna- It can be overwhelming if you let it. Promoting, marketing, and selling a book can easily be a full time job. The trick is to just remember that writing and publishing are two separate things. It took me two full days just to experiment and play around with the typesetting of Guardian before I got it to how I wanted. I think in January, I will do a series of posts on what to do after you have written the book. I'll go over all of the marketing, promoting, and other things that a lot of people miss.

  5. What would a new company have to do to win you and everyone else over?

  6. @Josh- That is a good question, I think it will be something that I would have to explain in a blog post instead of a reply.