Dec 11, 2011

Amazon's KDP Select program

by Marsha Ward

I got an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) last Thursday. It invited me to join a new program that is being offered by to independent (indie) authors and publishers. The gist of the program is that you can make your ebooks available to the Kindle Lending Library used by Amazon Prime members, and get your share of a $500,000 pot that Amazon is establishing for those whose ebooks are borrowed.

Here's the first paragraph: "We're excited to introduce KDP Select - a new option dedicated to KDP authors and publishers worldwide, featuring a fund of $500,000 in December 2011 and at least $6 million in total for 2012!  KDP Select gives you a new way to earn royalties, reach a broader audience, and use a new set of promotional tools."

Prime customers get one free rental per month. You get paid on a pro rate basis, depending on how many of your books are actually rented in comparison to the total rentals that month.

"Wow!" you say. "I can get a whole lot more money if I op-in to this program!"

Well, as with anything, there are conditions. One is really big, to my mind. You have to guarantee Amazon total exclusivity for 90 days to the title(s) that you put into the 90-day-with-automatic-re-enrollment program. Every 90 days, you re-enroll or get re-enrolled by default. When re-enrolled, every 90 days Amazon gets the exclusive right to sell/distribute your titles. (As I understand it, if you change your mind several days after enrolling, and pull out, there are parts to the contract giving Amazon certain rights for that 90 day period. Please correct me if I'm wrong.).

This exclusivity provision means you have to go take down your titles from any other distributors--RIGHT NOW--plus you have to take your own offers off your blog and/or website. That's time-consuming and work-intensive (not to mention counter-productive if you're an indie author because you want to be independent!). Never mind contacting anyone anywhere in the world who offers your work for sale or distribution. Do you even remember them all if they aren't selling well from an obscure site and you don't see a royalty?

If Amazon finds that you have forgotten (or don't know about) even one of those links, they can refuse to pay royalties, and go so far as to kick you out of the entire KDP program!

There are many more caveats along with benefits, but I've decided to say "no way, Jose'." Even though Kindle pays me more than any other ebook distributor just now, that may not remain the status quo in a year or two. Besides, although Amazon is opening Kindle Stores in more countries, I have made sales through other distributors in countries where the Kindle and Amazon have not yet arrived. I don't like to put my eggs all in one basket, or limit my ebooks to only one format. Enrolling in this program would put all my eggs in one fragile place. And what if, as one commenter asked, the handle broke?

Here are links to several other blogs and articles about the KDP Select program. Don't forget to read the comments for more perspectives. You can make up your own mind about the issue, but for me, it's a pass!

Writer Beware blog post (author-centric)
Note to readers by yet another author (with plenty of links to others)

Thanks for reading!

Edited to clarify some confusing parts I wrote very early one morning.


  1. Nicely said. I think there will be better opportunities in the future as everyone learns and grows, from Indie Authors to corporations like Amazon.

    Thank you for the link to my post too. :)

  2. You're welcome. Thanks for posting so many links on your blog.

  3. Definitely. :) I've added yours as well as the one from Writer Beware.

  4. Wow Marsha. Things seem to be so complicated in the e-book industry. Kind of scary. Thank goodness we have someone like you to help us navigate these predator infested journeys.

  5. It's definitely an interesting debate. I'm not sure what I'd do, but I'm keeping my eye on the discussion and the industry. Because, you know, someday I'm going to actually finish my book. :)

  6. Hmmm another way to get published...with strings attached as always.


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