I usually shy away from controversial topics, but here goes...
For those of you who haven't heard yet, Amazon recently offered a new program for authors and small presses who upload books to Kindle directly called KDP Select. In a nutshell, it requires that the e-books enrolled in the program be withdrawn from other retailers for the initial 90 days. This does not apply to audiobooks or print versions, just e-books. For buyers, the upside is that if you're a member of Amazon Prime ($79 annual fee) you may borrow one Kindle book per month for free, provided it's part of KDP Select. Authors whose books you borrow then get a per cent of a fund set aside by Amazon, based on the number of borrows. Authors may also select to offer any book in KDP select for FREE for up to 5 days.
Let me just say this has been the most divisive topic among indie authors that I can remember since I started indie publishing a year and a half ago. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords and probably the first and biggest distributor of digital content to embrace indie authors, had his own understandable thoughts on the matter. He spoke about the possible far-reaching implications here, from both a broader business perspective and the potential effects for both authors and readers.
For many authors who weren't selling enough copies elsewhere to justify not joining in the KDP program, it made sense. With free books, there's a chance for fresh exposure to new readers. So far, I've not made any of my books free, but that doesn't mean I don't see it as a viable marketing tactic. It's just one more tool in the kit.
Added exposure is another allure of KDP Select. Amazon Prime members are voracious consumers/readers. What author wouldn't want to be placed squarely in their sights?
Frankly, I feel like part of the minority, because I didn't join. David Gaughran discusses the topic more thoroughly here in his blog. I had many of the same misgivings.
But what it really came down to for me is that MY READERS MATTER MORE TO ME THAN MY SHORT TERM GAIN. Indie author Kait Nolan gives her perspective as a Nook owner here.
A couple weeks ago, I had a lovely e-mail from a fan waiting for the final installment of The Bruce Trilogy to come out on Nook. The delay was primarily with me not getting a properly formatted book to Smashwords in a timely manner (too many irons in the fire, yeah, yeah). Eventually I uploaded to Barnes and Noble directly, so that lovely reader had his book just two days later.
I don't sell piles of e-books through Apple or B&N. Not even 2% of my digital sales are through retailers other than Amazon. But that 2% matters to me. I don't care what kind of e-reader you choose to own. I want my books to be available in as many places as possible. Variety and competition, I believe, enrich our lives by making our options more individualized.
There are many, many things Amazon does well and perhaps the greatest thing going for the site is that it is soooo easy for readers to search for new titles there. I have found so many fantastic new voices this past year since I first got my Kindle, that I've never been more satisfied as a reader.
As an author, I'd prefer to just sit back and see where this is going and how other retailers and distributors will counter this move. For now, everything is status quo on this end.