Thoughts on Amazon and India and the Future of KDP Select

Today I broke a 12 minute mile! 37:49 for 3.2 miles, thank you very much.

It’s amazing what dropping the temperature 20 degrees will do for my performance.

Ahem.  Back to our regularly scheduled post.

So I got notice in my email this morning that there’s a 70% royalty option for Amazon India.  Of course it’s only for KDP Select members.  Of which, I am not one.

My initial thought was, meh, because other than the UK, I don’t get a lot of foreign sales.  But as Susan pointed out, why would they add this stipulation to this new channel if they don’t expect it to be an eventual source of good revenue (for them in particular).  According to one estimate I read, there are 60% English speakers in India, one of the most populated countries in the world.  No idea that their literacy rate is, but still, that’s a lotta people who could be potential readers.  Still, not enough of an inducement to get me to join KDP Select.

It’s too important to me to be available across as many platforms as possible, in as many formats as possible so as not to exclude someone who chose to be different and get something other than a Kindle.

But for the hell of playing devil’s advocate, I broached the notion of what happens if Amazon decides to make their 70% royalty rate PERIOD contingent upon being a KDP Select author?

I mean, that wouldn’t change the importance of format availability in my eyes, but it is a fiscal truth that for MOST self published authors, Amazon makes up the lion’s share of revenues.  For me right now, that’s approximately 60% of my sales (in terms of number of copies sold).  If I were to take that amount of income and slash it by half, it would be…not a good thing economically.  Because, at the end of the day, the point of all this is to actually make some money at this while reaching as many readers as possible.

Now, best case scenario, Amazon pulls this and SCORES of self published authors pull their work from all those other venues, which COULD lead to a potentially exponential increase in discoverability at said other venues for those of us who were left.  If Barnes and Noble EVER actually got their crap together and fixed their search, this could be a good thing.  It would mean a potential big increase in sales from them (and others) simply because of reduced competition.  Maybe.

The other scenario is that I choose to use KDP Select for future self published releases, continue to eschew DRM, and have a nice big fat, easy to find detailed instruction page for how to buy the Kindle version and convert it to whatever format you actually WANT.  The other potential alternative being a deal where they buy it from Kindle, email me their receipt to prove it, and I’ll email them back with whatever format they need.  This does not TECHNICALLY violate their current ToS.  But probably if this became a thing, they’d just change their ToS so that it was a violation, because, of course, they want people using their device alone.

It’s all a fairly moot point at the moment because that isn’t what Amazon has done.  But the point is that they could.  And we should have a plan if that day actually comes.

So what do you think?  Are you into KDP Select now?  Would you go that way if they made 70% exclusive to Select?  Inquiring minds want to know.

9 thoughts on “Thoughts on Amazon and India and the Future of KDP Select

  1. katecopeseeley

    Amazon is already moving toward a point that scares me as an indie author. For instance, one of Kobo’s benefits is that you can set your book to free as a promo (which I did because I was new to the site and wanted to see if it would gain me a few Kobo readers). Immediately, I get hit by an email from Amazon telling me that it violates the terms of service. So, Amazon won’t let me set my book to free unless I am exclusive with them, but it won’t let me set my book to free ANYWHERE else either???
    When I sent them an email asking them to please explain this policy, all I got back was an “auto-reply” thanking me for my interest in adhering to the TOS, etc.
    So now (because yes, they make up the lion’s share of my sales) it’s almost as if I am partially exclusive with them, as they are choosing to dictate how I promote my book. Because if I want to continue to finance my book—cover, editing, proofing—I have to keep on their good side.

    • Now I was totally signed up to get notified when Kobo went live…must’ve gone to my junkmail folder.

      Your experience with Amazon is interesting. In the past, I have made one of my titles free on Smashwords (and thereby all its other distributing partners), and then reported a lower price on Amazon so that I could get it price matched and free there. This was pre KDP Select and that short story has remained perma-free. I had wondered if you could do the same thing to get around their KDP Select free promo days but hadn’t put it to the test. This would seem to indicate that you no longer can.

  2. The only thing I can add is that there hasn’t been a huge surge of sales since India was added, so I don’t see much point in going exclusive with Select just to get 70% of nothing.

    Amazon must’ve finally realized how many authors are blaming their suddenly low sales on Select freebies, and so is trying to keep the enrollment up.

  3. I saw the India and KDP Select email too. I’m surprised by Katecopeseeley’s response about putting her title for free on Kobo. I have a title free on Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes, and Amazon price-matched to free with no problem.

    Right now, I only have a couple titles that fall into the 70% realm because I write shorter works and like to price them cheaper. If they changed it where everyone got 35% except those in KDP Select, I still don’t think I would switch over. I might price my ebooks higher, though. I think having my titles in many different channels helps more than hurts.

    A lot of authors aren’t using KDP Select as much, so Amazon will probably try to keep thinking of ways to sweeten the deal.

    • katecopeseeley

      I also have a short story that Amazon made free because of smashwords, itunes, and kobo. But it is a 99 cent title, so maybe that is where the difference lies?

      The book I put for free on Kobo is $2.99 on Amazon. Perhaps it is only with titles in a certain price range that they care? Or maybe they’re just picking on me? lol

  4. Oh wow, I must have read that email too fast because I missed that it was only for Select authors. That’s bunk, if you ask me. (I am not signed up for KDP Select, and I’m not planning to either.)

    If Amazon pulled their 70% option from everyone, I still would not go Select out of principal. I’d like to think I’d stay indie, but without the 70% from Amazon, I worry it would be way too much work, and little reward. Since (as it stands) indies cannot really reach a large enough audience without Amazon, I would probably box up my indie pride and try to find a traditional publisher. :

    • Yeah I misread it the first time too. Susan was the one who pointed it out.

      I don’t think it would be impossible to make a living as an indie. If they pulled the 70% to only Select members, everyone else would still get 35% (provided nothing else changes), which means Amazon isn’t taken totally out of the mix. But it definitely does mean we’d have to consider other means and methods to continue expanding our audiences.

  5. I got that email, too, and I was once again totally aggravated at Amazon for the KDP Select exclusiveness. I’m like you, I want my readers to be able to CHOOSE to download from the site they want. Another thing that gripes me is that they are combining the India sales with the U.S. sales. Why? They are able to break out sales to other countries. Why combine the India sales? I would really like to know if I’m getting any sales from there.

  6. These exclusivity clauses are definitely not fair. As I am in Australia, I have had to go with Amazon (no U.S. bank account and had so many technical hassles with Smashwords, I ditched them.) I hate being locked in as a KDP author; plus I have had much of my clearly copyrighted work stolen from India over the last 20 years online. So when I was notified of the new market, as an e-book author, I hit the roof!!!!!!!!!!! I am not given the opportunity to stop having my work sold in that marketplace. Every other country I can choose, India is lumped in with the U.S. store. I am spitting fire!

    Don’t even start me with the IRS argument it’s taken me a month to settle. I am a business, I registered with the IRS and Kindle as a business – Amazon refused to take me as a business as I am a sole trader, not a company so all the paperwork had to be done again.

    What is with these people? I am sick of kissing my rights goodbye.

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