Amazon.com has announced the KDP Select program for independent and self-publishers who offer their books for the Kindle. Let’s take a look at the terms of this new program and see if you might benefit from it. In a nutshell:
Ebooks offered through KDP Select with U.S. rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library where they can earn a share of a fund totaling an estimated $500,000 monthly. The publisher’s share is based on the number of times the book was loaned as a percentage of all books loaned in that month. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a collection of books that eligible U.S. Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates.
Books available for loan will still be available for purchase. That means that people who are not eligible to borrow ebooks through the Lending Library, or those who borrowed the ebook and loved it, can buy it.
Publishers may choose to offer books in KDP Select free for up to five days every 90 days. This is not something that has been available to independent Kindle publishers before now (at least not officially). Although you do not get paid for books downloaded for free, your book gets lots of exposure and downloads when it is free. Offering one title for free can be a good way to get attention for a series, for example.
To participate in KDP Select, your ebook must be exclusive to Amazon for a period of 90 days. That means the ebook may not be sold in other ebook stores or available on your website or blog.
New books as well as books already available for Kindle may be enrolled in KDP Select. You click “Enroll” from the Bookshelf for existing titles.
Should you enroll your Kindle titles in KDP Select? Here are some things to consider:
If your ebook is one that readers will want to own, either in digital or print format, making it available for loan allows them to preview it and discover that it is a book they should buy. Although this is not likely to happen with fiction, it may with at least some non-fiction titles. Will readers want to refer to the book often? Giving them a taste through the loan program may convince them to buy the book.
Although fiction titles may not sell better as a result of the loan, other titles by the same author may benefit. For example, currently many fiction authors offer one title for $.99 and others for $2.99 and up. The idea is that readers will sample the $.99 ebook then want everything else the author has written. Enrolling one title in KDP Select allows them to try that book for free as a loan or by making it available for free to everyone for a five-day promotional period.
The loan program also offers the opportunity to make money. The monthly fund will be divided among eligible KDP Select titles based on how many times they were borrowed by Prime members. The example given by Amazon is that 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).
Although it is unlikely that the typical book will earn thousands of dollars a month through lending, it is another source of income from your book. As long as the lending program does not cannibalize your sales, it is extra money.
You may want to give KDP Select a try and see how it works for you. Keep in mind that you can not sell the digital version of your book elsewhere while it is in the KDP Select program, and you are committing to an enrolled book being in the program for at least 90 days. This is the biggest negative I can see with KDP Select; however, at this time the majority of ebook sales for most books are made through Amazon, so not selling through Barnes and Noble, Apple, et al for 90 days may not be a problem. However, if you want your ebook to be available everywhere right away, KDP Select will not be an option for you. It also may not be prudent to enroll all of your ebook titles in KDP Select. You might try one title, or one title at a time, and see how it goes.
Amazon wants to be the ebook leader and KDP Select gives them an edge by giving them an exclusive on many books. Can you benefit from KDP Select, too? Maybe. Although it will not be right for every publisher and every book, KDP Select will definitely help many authors find an audience and make more money with their books.