I don’t know how Amazon is going about letting customers know about its new KDP Select program, but the author forums are abuzz with discussions about it. As Amazon customers know (even those of us who aren’t members), they have a Prime program that gives members free 2-day shipping and other benefits in return for a set membership fee each year. The Prime membership is also now going to include the ability to borrow one Kindle book a month free. As of now, that’s what the advantage of the program is to the reader.
An author who signs up with the program allows her book(s) in the program to be borrowed and also can offer the book for free 5 days in every 90-day period. Additionally, for a new book entered in the program, the author would be able to have pre-release orders (something indies have not been able to do in the past). In return for this, the author has to give Amazon the exclusive right to sell the book on its website – no B&N, Sony, Kobo, Apple, selling on the author’s website, etc. In fact so far the interpretation is that the author cannot give digital copies of the book to anyone, even for review. Surely that will be clarified more sensibly soon.
Needless to say, some authors think this is awful; others think it’s great and are hopping on the Select bandwagon with glee. I’m sitting on the sidelines thinking about it. For starters, since my ebooks are distributed to B&N, Sony, et al., via Smashwords, it would take weeks for me to get them taken down from those sites so that I could enter a program that requires exclusivity with Amazon. Theoretically I’m an ideal author for the program. I’ve never calculated, but definitely more than 95% of all my ebook sales are from Amazon, probably more than 98% if I did the math. However, do I want to tell the Nook, Sony, and Kobo people too bad? I put out paperbacks of my books in order not to say no to what is also a very tiny percentage of my readers. One author is working on a way to tell her readers if they buy from Amazon, she’ll convert the book to the format they want and send it to them, but IME not every ebook reader knows how to or wants to learn how to sideload a book onto their device, and of course the get your ebook instantaneously convenience would be turned into a back and forth aggravation.
For some authors the lure is being able to offer their books for free for those 5 days. Amazon has not allowed indies to offer their books for free in the past. However, clever people soon figured that if they offered their books for free in other places that do allow it, Amazon would price match and also offer the book for free. Timing was a bear that way, but a lot of authors do it. Those of you who have been reading here for a while are probably aware I’ve never waved the free flag wildly. Every time I think about it, I hear my mother’s voice saying, “You get what you pay for.” I know that’s not always true. I’ve scooped up some decent free books myself when given the chance, but even so….
The free theory is that readers who would never buy an unknown author try a free book, like it, and then buy all the author’s other books. It does work that way for some, but it works best with series books when the first one is free and of course my romances are standalones. So, for right now, I’m not putting any of my books in the Select program, but I’d love to hear thoughts on it from any of you. Maybe I will try it with a new book if early participants think it does give useful exposure. The minimum participation time is 90 days, so if a new book could be in the program for only 90 days and get the advantage of pre-orders…. Well, maybe.
Tidbits: Dancing on Coals has now been given 5-star reviews by KristieJ and by the Maldivian Book Reviewer. (Okay, KristieJ’s is really a 4.99 review, but what the heck.) Really great reviews that had me smiling for hours, and I thank them both for picking the book up so quickly to review. In addition, MBR is making Dancing on Coals one of her December pick of the month books and I did an interview with her that will be posted in early January. It might appear as early as January 1, but I’ll let everyone know the date as soon as I find out. Her questions were excellent, and I think you may enjoy reading the interview.
And speaking of free — MBR will have some gift copies of Dancing on Coals at the time the interview appears. Mom is mercifully silent on that subject.