Things in the ebook world just got a whole lot more interesting.
Self-published authors woke up this morning to a whole new screen on their Amazon dashboard. The company has announced KDP Select, allowing Amazon Prime customers to borrow books on their Kindles and pay writers for letting them do so.
Big deal, right? Wrong. Amazon just fired a massive shot at their competitors and clearly intend to crush them. In order to enrol your books in KDP Select you must give Amazon exclusivity. That means you cannot sell those titles on Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, All Romance, OmniLit, Bookstrand…anywhere. It’s Amazon only, baby.
Amazon have the biggest selling ereader in the world and are currently, by far, the biggest distributor of self-published ebooks. They know they can do this. The question is, how are their competitors going to respond? And can they?
The carrot being dangled is very enticing indeed:
1. A share of a $500,000 fund for December alone every time your book is borrowed. This gives you the opportunity to earn income from your titles from more than just sales.
2. Five days of free promotion for every 90-day exclusivity period. Making a book free on Amazon has meant gaming the system and jumping through ridiculous hoops – until now. Amazon knows this is what their authors really want more than anything. Free books drive sales to paid titles.
3. Faster payments – your lending revenue is included with your regular KDP earnings and, as before, Amazon pay far quicker than many other retailers (60 days as opposed to quarterly PLUS 30-45 days at other retailers).
4. Incentives for international authors – making a book exclusive to Amazon isn’t a huge deal in many ways if you’re outside the US. For example, I’m in the UK. This means I cannot submit to PubIt (Barnes & Noble) or Apple’s iBookstore. International writers have to go through Smashwords Premium Distribution which seems to take forever.
5. Marginalisation – although erotica titles aren’t exactly prominent on Amazon they have become buried on certain other sites (All Romance and Bookstrand, I’m looking at you). This results in fewer and fewer sales there, meaning the jump to Amazon-only is becoming an easier decision by the day.
Who knows where this will lead? It could be argued that Amazon is firing its first major shots in a war it wants to win – they clearly want to be the iTunes of ebooks. With Apple looking like the only competitor likely to be able to duke it out, it remains to be seen whether the likes of B&N will come out fighting or go the way of Borders.
This war isn’t over yet. But the battle lines have been clearly drawn – on one side, Amazon. On the other, everyone else. Can the competition survive?