Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Fine Print of Amazon's New KDP Select Program

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Almost since Amazon's controversial Kindle Owners' Lending Library--which allows Amazon Prime members to borrow selected ebooks for free--debuted, there have been rumors that Amazon was inviting KDP self-publishers to participate.

Amazon has just unveiled KDP Select, which allows self-publishers to "Distribute books through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library and reach the growing number of US Amazon Prime members." Authors will receive not just exposure, but payment, through a special fund established by Amazon. $500,000 is available in December, and "at least" $6 million in 2012. (See Amazon's detailed FAQ.)

The enrollment term for KDP Select is just 90 days, but enrollment renews automatically unless you opt out (and you can opt out at any time). During each 90-day term, you can promote your book to Amazon customers as free for up to 5 days; during those free days, however, your book won't be available in the Lending Library.

Payment is calculated according to a complicated formula:
Your share will be calculated as the number of times that the Digital Book has been borrowed during the month as a percentage of the number of times all KDP Digital Books have been borrowed, multiplied by the fund amount we establish for that month...For example, if the fund for a particular month is $500,000, your Digital Book is borrowed 1,500 times, and all participating Digital Books are cumulatively borrowed 100,000 times, your Digital Book will earn $7,500 ($500,000 x 1,500/100,000 = $7,500).
It sounds lucrative, but it should be remembered that this is only an example; KDP Select is too new for anyone to predict what the actual borrowing rates will be (according to Publishers Lunch, 129 titles are currently enrolled, from top KDP authors). Also, Amazon appears to have complete discretion in establishing the amount of the monthly fund, and in deciding on "the criteria for determining which borrowing events qualify for this calculation."

Also important to consider, if you're thinking of participating: you must be willing to distribute your work exclusively on the Kindle. Here is the relevant language:
1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.
This is a grant of rights and a non-competition clause all in one, and authors need to think carefully before agreeing to it. Contrary to what many authors seem to believe, the regular KDP program does encumber rights, and gives Amazon considerable control over intellectual property (see this comment from me on an earlier blog post for an analysis)--but it does so non-exclusively and imposes no burden on other works. KDP Select goes much farther: it makes Amazon, in effect, your publisher while your book is included in the program, and potentially has an impact on other work you are or are planning to publish. (See this post from Passive Voice for a detailed analysis of the dangers of non-competition clauses.)

Other things to note: if you opt out of KDP Select, your book remains subject to the Terms and Conditions until your current 90-day term expires. And if you violate the Terms and Conditions, there are consequences:
we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.
As always, read and be sure you understand the fine print.

66 comments:

Grumpy Bulldog, Secret Agent said...

Sounds way too complicated. I'd rather the reader just pay me the money to buy it.

Weirdmage said...

Am I correct in reading this as before you join the KDP Select program, you have to remove your book from sale from any other retailer, including your own website?

Seems to be an insanely strict condition to me.

Victoria Strauss said...

Weirdmage--That's correct about other retailers and platforms; Amazon wants exclusive distribution and retail rights.

I didn't see anything about author websites in the FAQ for KDP Select. If you're offering the book for sale or download on your website, I would imagine that the exclusivity provision would apply there as well--but that's something that Amazon should clarify.

M.P. McDonald said...

The clause is exclusive to that work only, although you can't add a bonus chapter/material onto it and call it a new book. However, you can opt only one of a series in and the others out.

Plenty of authors are opting in with only one of their titles.

I always thought a non-compete clause was more along the lines of you can't write another book and sell it to anyone else.

Weirdmage said...

From the exclusivity clause you quoted in your post:

"During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book[...]"

Seems to say you can't sell it yourself.

And since it looks like Amazon has only located a total of $500,000 a month for lending royalties, I can't see how any author will profit on joining this program.

Victoria Strauss said...

The non-competition language is bolded:

"you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it)

This is a lot broader than just a followup book. Vagueness in non-competition clauses is a big problem--do visit the link to Passive Voice that I provided in my post, for a good rundown on the risks.

jakeescholl said...

To be successful in self publishing, you need to be able to sell your books in more than one outlet. Exclusivity for self publishing is ridiculous. If you want to have your ebook lendable, send a copy to a local library who has an ebook library online......You won't make money, but you'd get exposure.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how much I am losing by refusing to do any business with Amazon, buying or selling, but it's worth it.

Heather Wardell said...

I was called last week and offered the chance to include my books in what is now called KDP Select (it was nameless at the time).

I chose to register one (my only truly 'stand-alone' novel) because I think it's an interesting concept and I would like to see how it ends up working. I kept the other seven books non-exclusive because I don't believe in putting all my eggs in one basket no matter how large that basket.

I share the concerns that have been stated here regarding the need for exclusivity, and it's entirely possible I'll regret trying this, but I know I'd have regretted not trying it at all. I'm committed to it for 90 days and then I can decide to pull it and reverse the exclusivity.

It should be an interesting three months!

Anonymous said...

Let us know what happens Heather.

Anthea Lawson said...

It's also VERY important to keep in mind that each Prime account can only check out *one* book per month. Are they going to choose your unknown self-pub title, or the new, really expensive, NYT bestselling author's book for their single check-out?

Bill Peschel said...

I will not participate. Amazon wants an exclusive on a book that's making money for me on other formats, and they want it for free. Plus, they want an exclusive from self-published authors, but not for people like J.A. Konrath (his "Exposed" is available for lending on Amazon, and sold as an ebook at Barnes and Noble).

Lexi said...

This is just another opportunity that will suit some indie authors and not others. Read the small print and decide if it's for you, is my advice.

Heather Wardell said...

Will do, Anonymous.

Victoria, if you're interested, I'd be willing to write a post after a month or so sharing my sales and borrowing numbers from KDP Select. Let me know if you're interested.

Jody W. and Meankitty said...

>>>(or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it)

That's arguably anything else you write in the same genre. People keep saying, "Oh, they'd never do THAT," but legally they can, right? SCARY.

Victoria Strauss said...

Heather, I'd definitely be interested. Contact me at beware [at] sfwa.org. Thanks!

Sean F. Roney said...

The non-competition rule is so vague it could be interpreted to mean sequels, prequels, other entries in a series, or even similar works one has done. Plus, it's way too restrictive to restrict sales to such a degree.

Grumpy Bulldog had it right--better to just sell as normal.

Lindsay said...

For those indies who have built up a fan base, it's also important to consider how this will make you look (and how it will make them feel if they can't buy your newest release at Smashwords or B&N or iTunes) in their eyes.

Not only will the books only be available at Amazon, but I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) this library is only accessible to people who are in Amazon Prime.

I buy a ton of stuff at Amazon and even I've never gone in for Prime. This could be a big stick in the eye to a lot of your readers.

Just something to think about. Good luck all!

Mark Coker said...

Here's what I think of it: http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/12/amazon-shows-predatory-spots-with-kdp.html

Strongbow Saga said...

Let's try to look at this without demonizing Amazon. Suppose you have a series available as Kindle books. If you put the first book into this program, and readers can access it for free, might that not lead them to purchase the rest of your series, if they like it?

If Amazon is investing $500K per month in this, they're probably going to be promoting books that are in the program. So you'll be, in effect, receiving, for free, the benefits of their promotional efforts if you participate.

And Kindle Fires come with three months of free Amazon Prime. Millions of Amazon Fires have already sold. That's a big potential market.

Obviously, Amazon expects to make money off of this program. That's why they're doing it. But as an author who was badly treated by a big traditional publisher (HarperCollins), I, so far think there's no one out there who treats authors more fairly than Amazon does. They get it that it's the authors who deliver the content that they sell.

Debbie said...

It seems to me that they key word in this exclusivity is "distribute". Not "sell". If you have a book published already via smashwords, then even when you unpublish, smashwords will retain a copy to service previous customers of that book. If a previous customer wishes to download a new copy of your now-unpublished book, smashwords will presumably "distribute" a copy. Thus apparently violating KDP's t&c.

BuffySquirrel said...

Exclusivity is good for Amazon. It isn't good for authors or readers. It seems to me ironic that I work with small press publishers who are desperate for distribution whereas many Kindle-pubbing self-publishers seem happy to discard it.

Ekko Johnny said...

Ii seems admirable that Amazon has made an effort to develop a compensation based program. It sounds like a fair deal for an established Author but no one is waiting on the edge of their chair for my books and it would seriously limit my efforts to market and sell. Anxious to hear what Heather reports. I hope it loads you (Heather) down with greenbacks.

I've started planting books in bars that have libraries. In exchange I promote the bar. I couldn't work out any cross-marketing deals if I were tied up in a program like this. And if I directed all efforts to Amazon, I couldn't collect the immediate sales and buy toothpaste.

As usual, Writer Beware has laid it on the line. Who's better than you, Victoria? Thank you for what you do.

Poor Brenton said...

The exclusivity is scary on all levels, and I can see how Amazon is trying to leverage itself. Everyone with a Kindle device, all signed up for Prime, all ebooks formatted to their specifications.

With a company as big as Amazon, can an indie writer still be called indie if they depend on a multi-billion dollar corporation to sell their book?

Here is my post about KDP Select- poorbrenton.com

Rob Blackwell said...

I'm not demonizing Amazon, but it seems to me this is mostly a bad deal for indie authors.
My novel sells for $2.99, so I can't imagine why a Prime borrower is going to use his or her ONE free rental a month on my book, when they could use it for a $12.99 book. So I'm basically giving Amazon exclusivity to Amazon for little to no benefit.
The ONE caveat I have is about promotion. If Amazon really is going to feature KDP Select books in some prominent way then I could see how this would be beneficial. But I don't understand the "free" promotional offer for 5 days every 90-day period. Just not sure what that exactly means.

Victoria Strauss said...

Debbie said,

If a previous customer wishes to download a new copy of your now-unpublished book, smashwords will presumably "distribute" a copy. Thus apparently violating KDP's t&c.

That's a really interesting point, and one I didn't think of. Retaining a copy to service existing customers even after a book has been unpublished is a common feature of self-pub platform Terms & Conditions. So...if you self-pubbed on platforms other than KDP, might you inadvertently find yourself in violation of KDP Select's T&C, even if you terminated your book with all those other platforms?

Barbara Morgenroth said...

Overnight, Amazon dropped all my titles to 99 cents. If they were $2.99, now they are 99 cents. The YAs priced at $1.99 are now at 99 cents.
They have a special way of saying this now, discounting the price the publisher (that would be me) has priced it at. So doesn't that mean I can no longer get the sweet 70% royalty but am stuck at the bargain basement fire sale price I was trying to avoid?

What's going on over there?

Victoria Strauss said...

Barbara--you aren't the first author who has experienced sudden and unexplained price shifts. So many authors seem to think that they are giving nothing away by publishing through KDP, but in fact they're ceding a considerable amount of control to Amazon--and the price shifts are just one example of that.

Anonymous said...

Amazon only cares about Amazon. Authors are temporarily benefiting as they go after cracking publishers. After that they will go Walmart on the authors and start bleeding them.

Morgen said...

I don't plan to offer any of my work in electronic form. No Kindle or other versions. Printed version only. I'm old-fashioned, and I like the printed word.

Barbara Morgenroth said...

Thank you for telling me I'm not alone on the pricing nightmare, Victoria. A couple months ago some mean spirited reader complained to Amazon about a French phrase I used in one of my books--objets d'art. I was threatened with being unpublished if I didn't spell objet correctly as object. I couldn't explain to the support person in India that it was French word not English. I had to change it. They were defending the reader and didn't give a hoot about me. That told me a lot but none of the writers I explained this incident to were bothered in the least. Yeah, wait till Amazon dictates your content to you and see how you feel.

Laurin Wittig said...

Heather - I did exactly the same thing. My one stand alone book is enrolled for 90 days. I can't wait to see what happens. It might be good, it might be bad, but either way it's one book for 90 days.

Strongbow Saga - I couldn't have said it better. I'm thrilled with the way Amazon has treated me as compared to Berkley, and really to any other e-tailer. Amazon has been 97% of my sales and income this year. Anything they do to make my books more discoverable is a good thing for me and my books.

The main point is to read the fine print and decide if the risk is worth the potential reward. I did not put all my eggs in this basket, just one. That was the risk I was willing to take. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

Here's the key line in the accounting from amazon:

"...a percentage of the number of times all KDP Digital Books have been borrowed"

That's the x factor. Meaning, your book may be lent out 1500 times, but if the total number of all of their books lent collectively is 5,000,000 then guess what, you've just earned a cool $150 on 1500 readers.

You can work out your own numbers as to what selling 1500 copies of your own book would look like. I suspect its way more to be non exclusive. Also, the more successful Amazon's program is the less money you stand to make. And just wait until there are massive best sellers in the mix.

This is amazon serving amazon, people. The reason they offer this is to get more $79 subscribers. Or non kindle owners will see there's a lending library and then say to themselves, i'm going to buy a kindle AND join amazon prime where i'll just borrow one book a month forever. WIN for amazon.

I assume none of you are imagining that there was a meeting at their headquarters when some earnest young employee stood up and said, "Ok, team, what can we do to help the writers who are using KDP, how can we get their books out to help them build their career?" The reality is, it probably went something like, "We need to sell more kindles, get more subscribers for Amazon Prime...what would be the bare minimum we can offer our KDP people that will make us the most money but will be just high enough to not offend and have them take a gamble"

Oh, Amazon...

Victoria Strauss said...

Also, the more successful Amazon's program is the less money you stand to make.

Exactly right.

Debbie said...

And the more people who pull their books off B&N, Sony and the rest, the more us remaining indies will stand out... :-)

Linda Hawley said...

I opted in book 2 (Guardian of Time) from my series today.
Here is what I gain:
1 - Book 2 is still for sale on Amazon, so I will still get my regular sales.
2 - Book 2 will be lendable to Amazon Prime members, so I will receive some amount of royalty for those readers 'borrowing' it.
3 - It will spur sales/royalties for book 1, because they'll need to buy that first to understand the series at all.
4 - I gain more readers.

What do I have to lose? I don't think I have one single thing to lose, because nearly all of my sales from book 2 have been though Amazon anyway.

So I'll test this for 90 days.

I don't much care for Amazon's demanded exclusivity, however, it is through Amazon that I'm getting 99% of my eBook sales.

Note: I still get to sell the print versions of my books everywhere, and I will continue to do so.

Frances Grimble said...

I'm against flat pricing schemes, because books vary a lot in both how much they cost to produce and in how well they sell. This scheme is even worse, because it does not even guarantee any flat price per download, per month, or a minimum no matter what. It gives you no idea whatever how much money you'd make, but prevents you from making money elsewhere.

I don't see why anyone with any sales alternatives that give them a definite price would sign onto this program. And there are always sales alternatives, even if it's just your own website.

Linda Mae B said...

I think it's a great idea. I'm not published yet, but I would jump on this chance to gain exposure! It's only for 90 days, so what if 'amazon automatically renews' who doesn't do that these days? Even my magazine subscriptions automatically renew unless I say no.:) I think it's a prime opp for indie pubbed authors to get some great exposure!
I think it's kind of funny when people say 'amazon is for amazon', if a company is not looking out for it's best interest then they won't last long...right??
Cheers!

John F. Harnish said...

The exclusiveness of the new Amazon Select program bothers me greatly. With three ex-wives I’m rather familiar with the pitfalls of exclusive entanglements.

When I was shopping for an ebook reader I discovered that Nook ebooks won’t display on a Kindle and Kindle ebooks won’t come up on a Nook, thusly there’s a built in exclusive format. I purchased an iPad which works with both. However, I don’t buy ebooks from iTunes because of Apples support of “agency pricing” which doesn’t benefit the author and their ISBN requirement is a bummer. I don’t need an ISBN to offer my ebooks through Amazon and B&N.

In my series of ebooks about ebooks—published as John Franklin, I strongly advocate publishing with both Amazon and B&N because industry reports indicate they sell 90 to 95% of all ebooks sold. From a marketing perspective that’s dominating the marketplace—with the way the new Kindles and Nooks are filling the hands of readers, their dominance is secure and increasing. These two retail outlets are where the ebook action is happening, and where the greatest benefits for authors are to be gotten—not to be confused with being had!!!

Amazon and B&N have direct publishing programs that are author-friendly with significant royalty percentages paid monthly—I love their deposits going directly into my checking account before the end of the month. Indeed both have wised up to the fact that in the Digital Age, the author creates and controls the content—and there’s no reason to deal with the meddlers in the middle who do nothing but take a slice of the profit pie. Both are to be commended for the way they’ve leveled the playing field enabling first-book authors to share their stories and profit from their efforts—and both giants profit from the sale of the author’s content.

Amazon missed a golden opportunity when they launched their Singles program. They would have endeared authors by announcing the 70% royalties would be extended to all ebooks priced from $0.99 to $9.99—and 35% would continue to be paid on the higher “publisher set” pricing. This would have directly benefited many authors testing the water with their first ebook.

I fail to see the benefits for authors participating in the Select program—except the potential for additional exposure. Unknown is the iffy part: if “Prime” lending occurs then the author receives a convoluted percentage of a percentage. If I’m a “Prime” customer and entitled to one “free ebook” each month, am I going to blow my freebee on an unknown author of a $2.99 novel or take the $12.95 “Buried Prey” by John Sandford??? That’s a no-brainer—but that’s assuming his publisher participates in the new program!!!

The $500,000 pot makes me think of the “Publishing Clearing House” offer where everyone has a shot at millions in prize money. However, in order to have a Select chance at a few bucks the ebook must be exclusively available from Amazon—the exclusivity requirement is the deal breaker.

Amazon and B&N have been waging war since the birth of their presence on the Internet. Now Kindle and Nook ereaders are battling for market shares. Let’s project ahead to 01/01/2012 with Amazon firmly positioned with 55% and B&N increasing to a 44% share—the fringe market that was 5% is now 1%. I’ve written off the 1% as not worth the hassle, but B&N’s 44% represents a major market share—the kind of coverage that marketing folks have wet-dreams about.

My ebooks are sold on Amazon and B&N—more sales occur through Amazon but a respectable number are also downloaded from B&N. I don’t see author-benefits in eliminating a “sales avenue” that’s generating profits in order to take a chance on a lending program that might yield a profit if Prime members “borrow” enough downloads.

The Digital Age has created a new world of publishing for recently empowered authors—the author owns the content, but for the author to profit due diligence must be done to understand the benefits and the pitfalls to beware of.

Enjoy often… John

Andy said...

Ye cats, that payment clause is as complicated as a credit card disclosure on how the interest rates are calculated!

BuffySquirrel said...

Ah, anyone seeking exposure is a prime target for this kind of scheme. Anyone can offer it, and it costs nothing because it generally has no value. Ace.

Virginia Llorca said...

Anyone thinking of going with this program should be sure to check the affiliate sales page on Smashwords first (if you are also on Smashwords). I just found it last week and was completely stunned. I had hundreds of downloads from the Barnes and Noble catalog and far more cash sales than showed up on the dashboard. B&N and Sony were the biggest movers. No, I don't know why. But I am thrilled.

Anonymous said...

Ms.Hawly, you say

"I opted in book 2 (Guardian of Time) from my series today.
Here is what I gain:
1 - Book 2 is still for sale on Amazon, so I will still get my regular sales."

Have you considered that some people who were going to buy the book will now decide to rent it instead? So you might lose some regural sales.

"2 - Book 2 will be lendable to Amazon Prime members, so I will receive some amount of royalty for those readers 'borrowing' it."

True. But

"3 - It will spur sales/royalties for book 1, because they'll need to buy that first to understand the series at all."

I seriously doubt that. If I had to choose one book a month to borrow, I might be willing to borrow the book of a writer I hadn't read before. But I most certainly would not borrow a book that I wouldn't be able to understand unless I bought another book. And if I borrowed the book thinking it was a stand-alone and then found out I couldn't understand it at all without spending yet more money for the first book, I would be very much annoyed.

"4 - I gain more readers."

Maybe. It's possible, but not certain.

P.S. To all writers:

I am not a writer myself, just an avid reader who has stumbled into this website and found it fascinating to learn how the people who write (or will write) the books I read think. I don't pretend to be any kind of expert, but, when you think about how to get people to buy your books, try to think as an average reader/book buyer. Not how you would like readers to think or how you believe you would think in their place.

Frances Grimble said...

Victoria,

Is there any definite end for the reader in the lending period, or does it effectively last forever, making it not really a loan?

Anke Wehner said...

If you enroll your book in that program, you are telling anyone who has a Nook, Kobo, Sony, or any other epub reader instead of a Kindle that you don't want their money.

If I bought the first book in a series and then found that I could not buy the second because it's Kindle exclusive, I'd be majorly pissed off.

Victoria Strauss said...

Frances--the Help page for the Lending Library says that there are no due dates, so it sounds as if, theoretically, you could borrow a book and keep it indefinitely. Amazon does say it will prompt borrowers to return borrowed books, but I can't tell what kind of prompt or how often.

JAMES BRUNO said...

I've joined Heather Wardell on this one. While all three of my novels have been Kindle paid genre bestsellers, they have sold squat via other platforms (B&N, Smashwords, etc.) So, I'm willing to give it a shot. The way I look at it, I've got little to lose. So far, Amazon has been very good to me and also very responsive with my queries, troubleshooting, etc. It's nice not beeing treated like chopped liver as an author.

Victoria Strauss said...

James, if you'd report back on your experience in a month, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

Doug Brunell said...

I will not be partaking in this one.

Frances Grimble said...

Victoria,

In the Kindle program where one e-book buyer can lend a book to another, Amazon simply makes the book inaccessible to the borrower after 14 days. See:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=200549320&

This says to me that Amazon could set up a similar system for the Prime loans--not just send a reminder that presumably could be ignored--but that Amazon has chosen not to. To me, the Prime "loan" sounds like a gift (or a sale via the Prime membership), not a real loan.

Frances Grimble said...

BTW, as to why something not really a loan would be called a loan, my guess is that Amazon wants to build up an all-you-can-eat-for-one Prime membership program. Prime "lending" is currently limited to one e-book a month per member--but that limit is entirely at Amazon's discretion and could change to anything at any time. Prime "lending" is also not limited to self-publishers by any means, it's just that the larger publishers are currently unenthused.

If books were sold via a blanket license, I assume the publishers would have to pay their authors royalties wherever the publisher is not the author, and Amazon would have to track the loans of each publisher's books in order to give publishers the correct data.

If books were given away and this was not called a loan, my guess is, that many authors now have some provision in their contracts controlling how many e-books are given away and for what purpose.

But if it's called a loan, I am wondering if author/publisher contracts don't govern loans of e-books? And if Amazon customers get books to keep if they wish as part of their flat Prime memberships, they won't care if these are called loans.

I could be wrong, but lending books but not defining a loan period and blocking their use (as Amazon has proven it can and will do for reader-to-reader loans) seems very odd to me.

L.L. Lee said...

I've enrolled my two non-fiction ebooks,How to Survive Menopause without Going Crazy and A Bench on the Beach. Will see what happens before enrolling others.
http://www.amazon.com/Taxing Tallula

Deb said...

The part of this that bothers me isn't the lend/buy dichotomy as such. It's the fact that if I allow them to loan out a book, I get a percentage of a flat budgeted amount the size of which is totally under Amazon's control. What happens if this program takes off like whoa and Amazon expends their budget for that month? If my little book then lends out, I get nothing. Nor can I see any way to hold them to account for number of loans and royalties earned. I'm not using the s-word, but this seems more an incentive to get more Prime sign-ups than a workable earnings stream for authors.

Sibel Hodge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sibel Hodge said...

I hate this clause in the exclusivity section:
>>>(or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it)

If you only opt in with one title and have others distributed elsewhere, they can penalize you for it according to the KDP Select terms and conditions. Pretty scary, huh?

Marilynn Byerly said...

This clause isn't just for the self-published, it's in the contract used for small publishers. Several of mine have opted out of the program because of it.

Victoria Strauss said...

Posting this for Kindle self-publisher RLL, who has had trouble getting a comment through:

I’m blogging about my take on Amazon KDP Select over at REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE. Why I signed up, and what it meant for my blog.

Dario said...

I didn't like this idea from the beginning, and I like it even less. I've always been a staunch supporter of Amazon, and the KDP program, which I'm enrolled in, but they're starting to try to get tricky and throw and their weight about. The more people buy into this, the more they'll be encouraged to push it further.

Cynthia Toliver said...

Thank you for the overview. You do a great job keeping authors informed.

Anonymous said...

I'm a kindle owner who has Amazon Prime, and I thought I'd clarify how the lending appears to work.

So far as I can tell, you can only have one book borrowed at any one time. You're prompted to "return" the book you currently have before you can borrow a new one. I suppose you could theoretically borrow one book and keep it forever if you stopped using the service, but that's it.

Personally, when I've tried the service so far I've used it as more of an excuse to try new authors than a way to read expensive novels for free. Most of what is available appears to be in the $.99 - $2.99 price range normally, at least in my areas of reading interest. When I find authors I like, I generally follow up by buying more out of their library of available books. I do hope they rethink the exclusivity, though. That seems very anti-competitive.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

I'm in their kdp select program. And interestingly, a friend who is in it tells me he still has his digital books all over and amazon hasn't made a stink about it. I wouldn't challenge the contract I have with them because my friend might just be lucky, but I doubt they are being as nefarious as this story implies. Thanks for looking out for us though.

Paul DeBusschere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul DeBusschere said...

I was faced with this decision when releasing my book back in December. I chose to opt out because of the restriction on distribution (my book, thanks to Smashwords, is distributed widely). I believe I made the right choice, since there is no guarantee anyone is going to borrow my book through Kindle Select.

For a self-published author, I can't see how the program is a benefit because of the limitations. I can see it working for a well known author, though. But, as one other commenter said, opting for exclusivity might end up being a stick in the eye for an author's fans. In my opinion, it's too much of a risk.

Robin said...

What worried me, and what I just can't figure out is-if I withdraw after 90 days, can I keep it on Amazon without being in the Select program? they make it sound like when it's over it's over. Also, at no point does it address whether selling my paperback on Amazon would be sufficiently similar content as to make it not allowed under the Select program. If they would only speak English...or have a section that answered these questions in plain language!

Gerald Simpkins said...

I am a newbie with only one title currently 'live' on Amazon Kindle. I just opted out of Select simply because I could not actually find where to opt out once I was locked in. The directions given did not help me to find it so I typed it into the 'search for' box on my 'bookshelf as per the exact words that Amazon gives in their instructions on how to opt out after being in the 90-day period of Select. It came back as no such thing found. So just hours before my title would have gone up on KDP Select for 90 days, I bailed out simply due to not being able to actually FIND and SEE the place to check non-renew. I did ask two fellow authors/friends if they have ever actually SEEN the non-renewal box and neither one ever answered me.

As I say, I am a newbie, so do not laugh too hard at me but I can not find it, and that alone kept me out. There is also a clause in there giving Amazon exclusive control over pricing at any time regardless of any other consideration, and I wondered if they might lower the price of a title if the author dared to non-renew just to retaliate for that author letting the competition have his title to sell? Fair question, even for a newbie like me?

Gerald Simpkins
gsim@tds.net

Mel said...

IMHO, the biggest benefit to enrolling KDP Select would be the free books days, not the lending program. I know someone who wrote a book in the same non-fiction genre I did, and having the title free for a few days really helped this new author get started.

I am considering offering my first title on KDP Select for 90 days for the same reason. I am just having a hard time getting any reader reviews at all without people being able to get it without any upfront investment. Maybe I'm just not hitting the pavement right...

Does anyone have experience with taking a title OFF KDP Select after the 90 days are up? Does it work without trouble?