Amazon KDP Select Controversy: Golden Opportunity or Trap?
Last Thursday, Amazon opened its KDP Select program to self-published authors and indie publishers. Indies can enroll qualifying books in the Kindle Owners Library program, making their books free for Prime customers to “borrow.”
Controversy and debate is heated on blogs, Kindle Boards and indie publishing communities.
Some indies think this might be a great idea. Others don’t, and suggest Amazon is conducting a monstrous exploitation of bootstrapped authors while harming the wider ebook market.
Enrolled books are available for Amazon Prime customers to download on Kindle for free (one at a time), as long as indies make each enrolled title exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. The exclusivity does not apply to paper-published versions of the books.
Some authors think the exclusivity clause is a dealbreaker. Withholding (or removing) titles from Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Smashwords and others is too much of a royalty gamble.
Evaluating the revenue risk, one author disclosed that her non-Amazon revenue sources total around 30%, another put revenue loss potential at %53 - while others say it’s an easy decision, as their non-Amazon revenue is now less than 1%.
Indie publishers and authors are treading cautiously. Old arguments have resurfaced about free books and potential damage to the ebook sales ecosystem.
Some critics are outright accusing Amazon of monopoly tactics and anti-trust behavior.
Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware issued a strong caution about rights, non-competition clauses, and intellectual property issues - telling authors to “think carefully” before signing on.
Indie distributor Smashwords attacked the program saying it will make authors indentured to Amazon and will harm other retailers.