Thoughts on KDP Select

So by now everybody who’s currently distributing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (and everybody else who’s seen it on Twitter) has heard about this new KDP Select.

I am not a fan.

Is this a good business decision for Amazon?  Sure.  They’re doing something else to try to corner the market on ebooks.  Since largely Kindle is synonymous with e-reader the same way that Kleenex is the universal word for facial tissue, attempting to make books a Kindle exclusive–even if only for a limited time–is a smart move for them.

But is it a smart move for writers?

As a Nook owner myself I can say with conviction that I’d be right ticked off if one of the books I wanted was available in ebook on Amazon and not anywhere else.  I didn’t (and still don’t) want a Kindle.  I love my Nook and I feel that all books released should be released on ALL PLATFORMS simultaneously.  I don’t think it is a wise move, long-term, to alienate those readers who chose an e-reader that wasn’t a Kindle.  And don’t you DARE pull out the “but you can read it on Kindle PC or your phone.”  I don’t give a rat’s ass.  I don’t want to read on my phone or my computer.   That’s why I got an e-reader in the first place.  Don’t discriminate against me because I chose something different.

Will authors make money via the KDP Select program?  Sure.  Will it be comparable to profits from other venues you’d be forced to forego for 90 days?  There’s no way to know.

Certainly the option to promote your book for free for up to 5 days out of 90 on KDP Select is an attractive one.  Free is definitely a way to zip up the rankings.  And, in fact, this could potentially result in enough visibility that your sales could supersede what you might make via those other venues, particularly given that for almost every independent author I know, Amazon makes up the majority of sales.

So I guess the decision comes down to your goals.  If you’re entirely about maximizing profits in the short run, this might be a means to do so.  But if you are about building a solid fan-base ACROSS PLATFORMS, I think that participating may just be shooting yourself in the foot.

I, for one, won’t be signing up.

20 thoughts on “Thoughts on KDP Select

  1. I read their email about the Select package last night, and again this morning. Like you say Kait, I do not think it is a good thing for those writers who want to make a true name for themselves.

    I will not be signing up, even as a kindle owner I am not too keen on the idea of limiting myself to only one platform. As you say, it is not fair to those readers that have a different machine. In a way it is an attempt to form a monopoly on e-books.

    At a first read it sounds like a great offer, but when you break it down and really consider the whole ‘exclusive’ principle, you can help but think that the only true winner will be amazon.

  2. As Guido Henkel has pointed out in this article, it’s actually unlikely that authors will earn much from the programme unless they’re very, very well-known. The other issue is the competition bit – this could be interpreted as any of an author’s books which aren’t signed up to the programme. I don’t think the possible (but unlikely) profits are worth taking down every single one of your books, or the possibility of getting kicked off KDP altogether for breaching the exclusivity agreement…

  3. Damn. Don’t know how to make that link clickable. Oh well, it’s under “this article”. Somewhere…

  4. I love my kindle and have no plans to purchase a nook…however, I would hate to alienate my nook readers by pulling my book off the B&N (and for iPad owners, iBooks) off the shelves. While KDP Select is attractive, and I receive the majority of my sales on Amazon, I don’t see how the program would benefit me. I priced my first novel at $.99. In order for KDP Select to work for me, I’d have to have tons of readers borrow my book. Now, why would a reader borrow a $.99 (in which they are allowed only ONE loan a month), when they could borrow a much higher priced book and buy my book for less than a dollar?

    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  5. I have a Kindle, but in no way would I limit what device my readers could use for my books. Making your work exclusive to Kindle is a very bad business move, in my opinion. Most authors that are talking about this are saying they want no part of it.

    • There is a segment of indie authors who already currently only make their work available on Kindle. I’ve bumped up against a few when I’ve politely inquired when they’d be making it available for the Nook and been directed to the “but you can download Kindle for PC or your phone.” At which point I just write them off as not worth my time. It’s a bad business decision on their part. As Claudia pointed out above, it’s a lot of fancy language to make authors think that this is a good idea when really it’s illogical.

      • Did you read Mark Coker’s blog? I think he was the one that said Amazon makes it harder for authors NOT to opt in because of the way the buttons have been rearranged when you publish. So we all need to be careful when we’re checking boxes, etc. during the publishing process.

  6. It’s seriously annoying how this has taken over my KDP dashboard. Between exclusivity and that nasty non-compete clause, no way would I even consider doing this…but good grief, they really want to shove it in our faces.

    I think a lot of authors are not being particularly smart by counting on Amazon for all sales. Seems like a much better business plan all around to develop a reader base that spans devices and formats. But that’s just my opinion.

    One thing that might work to our favor – all the authors pulling their books off those other platforms leave more visibility for the rest of us (however slight). It will be interesting to see if sales go up for those of us who stay diversified throughout… (ever the optimist, I am)

    • Well now THAT is something I hadn’t thought of. It’s an intriguing possibility and one I look forward to keeping my eye on…

    • That’s a very interesting and unique point you made.

  7. All this has done is solidify my decision not to use the KDP platform at all. I’ve been back and forth about it ever since I published my first book on Smashwords. I’m glad I don’t have to think about it any more.

  8. I think the key anti-argument on this is actually the fact that KDP wants an author to put all their e-publishing eggs in their basket–and if they don’t, the author is not allowed to play in the Select sandbox.

  9. I agree with you. Even if I didn’t live in Canada (and am thus exempt from Kindle Select, anyway), to put your ebooks on only one platform would alienate the other platform users out there.

  10. Monopolies are never a good thing.

  11. Thanks, Kait, for saying this so succinctly. I get a nervy-B about Amazon and it’s monomaniacal tendencies. I intend to self-publish early next year and I really wouldn’t do the exclusive thing if I had an e-book with Amazon now.

  12. lynnkelleyauthor

    Thanks for this post, Kait. This gives me a lot to think about. I’ve been out of the loop, dealing with too many other things, and haven’t done my homework on this.

  13. I am an author and a Prime member and I don’t care for the program from either side. I won’t be pulling my titles off other online vendors just to give Amazon Prime people and opportunity to borrow my titles. There are other great lending programs out there such as Lendle, BookLending and Book Fling.

    As a prime member, I may use my ‘one per month’ borrowing opportunity the get a book that is high priced or one that I am unsure of. I belong to a book club and if they suggest I title I don’t think I’ll care for, I may see if it is in the Prime library. Maybe

    Not a good plan for anyone in my opinion.

  14. Elyssia

    HEAR HEAR!!!!!! Fully agree that books be available across all platforms. Now have 2 eReaders and still can’t access my favorite authors books. Extortion! Just let us read the books we want! From the authors we want. Used to be the customer/client was important, now it’s CEO’s and executives. I am an avid reader 15+ books a month. Probably read more if I wasn’t spending so much time trawling the web trying to find my books, in a simple pdf format. Really. Support the authors and readers, at least consider us. Keep up the great work Kait! Still trawling searching for the books… 🙂

  15. Hi Kait Nolan! Thank you sooo much for this awesome article/post! After much consideration -not just of Amazon Select (which didn’t need contemplation on my part) but Amazon in general- I’ve decided to sell my ebooks from my own website. I never considered Select as anything more than another ploy to get desperate, newbie writers to help them corner the ebook market once more.

    I think somebody here (maybe Catana?) said Select was illogical for writers, and she’s right! How can a platform -even Amazon- promise you more exposure when they require you to pull all your work from other platforms to get it? More exposure means: more platforms, not less, I would think. It just doesn’t make any logical SENSE. God, Spock would raise an eyebrow at this mess.

    And the funny thing is that these indie writers are already selling their books for 99 cents. It’s a rock bottom price already. Why would somebody BORROW a 99 cent ebook???? To read on a $200 Kindle at that?? They don’t want to spend 99 cents? Are those the kinds of readers Select writers actually WANT? Readers that won’t even spend a dollar for their work. So they’ll give the books away for free in the hopes that these people will buy their books later? LOL!

    Please forgive me for the length of this, Kait. It’s also turned into a rant, but the more I think about all of this, the less any of it makes sense (if it ever did). I really want Amanda Hocking & John Locke to join the program and get the whole $500,000 pot for themselves so the herd of Select writers under them won’t get a penny. That will show them how foolish they were to try to split some weird pot of fools gold Amazon promised them. Why won’t Amazon just pay each author for each download? Why the weird potluck? Another red flag. So stupid and weird.

    P.S. I cannot remember if I commented before or not but thank you for allowing me to comment now.

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