Where Professionals Publish

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select Program and Why I Won’t Participate

Amazon recently announced its KDP Select program, which invites publishers and authors to make amazon kdp select programtheir Kindle books available via Amazon’s lending program. Amazon users who participate in the book lending program (via Amazon’s Prime service, an annual subscription program), will have an “exclusive” list of titles to choose from–all at no additional cost to the buyer.

Amazon is also promoting its $700,000 fund, designated for authors and publishers who participate in the program.  Publishers/authors who participate will be paid a percentage from the fund, based on the number of times their book is borrowed and the number of titles in the program.

Of course you can read all of this for yourself on Amazon here.

Here is why I will NOT participate in KDP Select:

1. The biggest deal-killer 0f all: Amazon requires exclusive rights to your ebook. That means that you can’t distribute it to Nook, iBookstore, Smashwords, Bookbaby, or even on your own website. Ridiculous! There is not nearly enough incentive here to limit my distribution. Note that you can still make your ebook available on Kindle without participating in KDP Select!

2. The fund of $700k isn’t that much money, especially when you consider what Amazon earns on the back end. They charge $80 per year for prime membership, which I subscribe to because it includes free shipping on most Amazon products. I don’t know how many Prime members Amazon has, but let’s just assume at least 500k people are members. That adds up to $40million dollars in revenue for Amazon. And they’re going to allot just $700k to compensate authors and publishers?? No thanks.

3. The publisher/author compensation is unclear and rather elusive. You can “earn your share of royalties” based on total participation and number of copies borrowed–but nobody knows how many will participate or how many will borrow or how much you’ll really earn. It feels a bit like rolling the dice at a casino.

4. Amazon is once again playing hardball with publishers and authors. They are requiring exclusive rights, making the numbers look fuzzy at best, and causing a big stir in the industry over this program. Amazon doesn’t play nicely in the sandbox. The company has demanded higher-than-industry-standard discounts on books (55% when most retailers expect 40%), started their own custom publishing division, and recently began offering traditional-style publishing contracts to top authors. They are essentially putting some publishers out of business and threatening many others.

As a consumer, I am a fan of Amazon. I shop there on a regular basis. But as a publisher and author, I have grown increasingly frustrated with some of their demands. Amazon needs to level the playing field and make allies instead of enemies. But it appears that Amazon is trying to take over more than just the sale of books–it wants distribution and production too.

If anyone participates in the KDP Select program (and I don’t know anyone who is), please report back about your experience! I will not be taking this one for a test drive.