Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On KDP Select

One of the more interesting announcements recently in the world of both writing and reading was the whole KDP Select program. I caught it via The Passive Guy. The gist here is that Amazon is setting aside a chunk of money to pay to authors who take part in their premium lending program. It strikes me as sort of a private library. That is, people who pay to be Amazon Prime members have access to free books through Amazon that they can "check out" and read. Amazon then tallies the number of downloads and divvies up the cash accordingly.

Sounds great, right? Free books for readers, money for authors. All our bases are covered. But what's the catch? There's always a catch, am I right?

In this case, Amazon is requiring exclusive rights to the book for 90 days (or more). Yep, that means in order to participate in this program, one would need to take down the book from any other competing sites (Barnes and Noble, Apple's iBookstore, Smashwords, you name it). So great for Kindle owners and those that use the MOBI format... EPUBers are out of luck.

I could see where this could be a nice program, but it just doesn't seem worth it from where I'm sitting. Let's be honest, my book isn't going to be compete with the Pattersons of the world in terms of lending power. My slice of the pie would be very small indeed. The exposure would be nice, certainly, but I have to believe there are going to be enough takers (a lot of people are already exclusive with Amazon) that the slices are going to be pretty small to begin with, and I'm just not that popular.

There's also the little side note that I like other retailers. I have a Nook myself. I feel like part of my job as a self-publisher is to make sure my readers have access to my book on any platform they choose to read it on. This exclusivity thing flies in the face of all that. Makes sense for Amazon, but for me? I just don't see it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for lending. I say so in the front of my books. Sharing is encouraged. I've talked about how I have no problem giving away free copies as well. I simply ask that you consider supporting the authors you like so that we can devote more time to the endeavor. I wish the devices that were out there today made it easier to lend books, but I understand why that scares publishers. It's the same fear they have with "piracy." Personally, I'm just happy folks are reading my book. If I've done my job well enough, asking for $5 shouldn't be that much. I don't care whether you read the book for free first and then buy a copy out of appreciation later or something. The only concern I have is using retailers that facilitate a relatively simply transaction and allow me to track my sales.

If I were designing a Reader's Best Friend E-reading Device, I think it'd be neat if you could "friend" other readers. Like how we do on Facebook or Google+. You could have a friend's list on your e-reader (think of chatting possibilities!) and have reading groups. Books could be passed between friends (just like we all used to do with physical copies). Copies don't scare me, but perhaps to make it fair for authors, it could move the digital copy from one device to the next (via wifi, of course) so that, in reality, only one person is reading the book at a time. That would put it on par with a paperback, right?

Until we have such a device, though, I'll try to use what is out there in the best, most reader-friendly ways I can. E-readers are still young. They have some changes to go through, I think, before they become staples in the literary world. I'm willing to be patient, but what I'm not willing to do is get "exclusive" with one retailer unless I'm assured that my readers aren't hurt. I don't think I can confidently claim that about the current iteration of the KDP Select program. If you would like to "borrow" my book, shoot me an email. No need to pay for Amazon Prime. (Unless you want the free shipping and that other junk, of course. :-p)


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