If you went to your KDP account this morning to (obsessively) check your stats, you might have seen this:
After a bit of confusion whether or not self-publishers would be part of the Kindle Lending library, they now can be. However, this isn’t a perfect deal for self-publishers for this reason:
When you choose KDP Select for a book, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.
On the heels of Amazon paying brick and mortar customers to not shop anywhere but Amazon, this has the whiff of Amazon trying to corner the entire ebook market. At the same time, it’s only for 90 days, not permanent inclusion. Keep in mind that enrollment will renew unless you opt out. Amazon is banking on authors making Amazon their single source ebook distributor, given that the bulk of sales for most people is on the Kindle.
A major advantage of the program is not necessarily the library lending process – because it’s not entirely clear how successful this will be for all writers – but it gives authors the flexibility to make their books free for 5 days. Currently, the free process is fairly open ended and hard to control. My novel just went free this week. I’m not sure why exactly because it’s not free anywhere else – so Amazon isn’t price-matching another retailer. Being able to have full control over this process is attractive.
As Writer Beware points out, the terms and conditions have some problematic language (bold added):
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.
Couldn’t another book by the same author be considered competition? You might think Amazon wouldn’t do that – but this is Amazon. For all the good they do for authors, they’re also trying to monopolize the ebook industry, so it is not out of the question that they might consider your other Smashwords-distributed book in competiton with the book on KDP Select. So just choosing to enable KDP Select for this book but not another does not necessarily offer protection.
Given that there have been pricing problems in the past with books being made free by accident, one could see there being a glitch where books were considered to be in competition, leading to lost revenue. If you break the terms: “we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program.”
In short, it’s an interesting program, and a good thing that Amazon is opening it up for all authors, but authors should also tread carefully.
About the Author: Henry Baum
I’m the author of The American Book of the Dead. The novel won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." I'm also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). Visit henrybaum.com for more information. I’m the editor of Self-Publishing Review.