Amazon’s KDP Select program has now been running for more than three months so I thought it would be good to take a quick look back over what has happened with this program so far.
At the beginning of November 2011 Amazon first announced their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for Amazon Prime members. Then in December they invited independent authors to enroll their Kindle books in KDP Select so that they would be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
The Catch: KDP Select requires exclusivity for a period of at least 90 days. In other words you agree NOT to sell the title elsewhere including other ebook stores and even from your own web site during that exclusivity period.
The Carrot: there are two main attractions. First, a fund to compensate for every time an author’s ebook is borrowed. At an average of $1.75 per borrow over the past three months that is actually more than authors would earn for a sale of a Kindle book priced under $2.99. Second, you are given the opportunity to schedule 5 promotional days during which you can make your ebook free in the Kindle store. Evidence indicates that the number of paid sales is usually higher following a period of free promotional days.
From the time KDP Select was first introduced authors’ opinions were divided. Some joined quickly. Others complained that writers should never give their work away for free. Many authors found themselves somewhere in between and not quite sure what they should do. I posted here about the Pros and Cons of KDP Select.
The good news is that three months on there are plenty of anecdotal stories being posted online so you can find out exactly what KDP Select has or hasn’t been doing for authors’ sales and platform building. I’ll include a few links to these stories below but first let’s look at the overall KDP Select Performance from December 2011 to February 2012.
A couple of weeks ago Amazon issued a press release announcing that there are now more than 100,000 ebooks in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and there have been over one million “borrows” of KDP Select books over the three months from December to February.
The KDP Select Fund was $500,000 in December (authors earned $1.70 per borrow), $700,000 in January (authors earned $1.60 per borrow), and 600,000 in February (authors earned $2.01 per borrow).
Let’s take a look at this performance in a chart.
The February results are interesting. The results I obtained from Amazon (halfway down this page on 13 March) only reveal the amount earned per borrow so I had to work backwards to calculate the number of borrows. Perhaps they didn’t mention it because the number of borrows fell from January. The good news for authors is that the earnings per borrow rose to $2.01, and Amazon are leaving the fund at $600,000 for March.
Was the drop in borrows simply due to an earlier surge in January due to all of the new Kindle Fires readers unwrapped at Christmas? Will Amazon lower the fund if the number of borrows continues to fall? We will have to wait and see.
Apart from the trends in borrows and earnings I suspect that many indie authors are more interested in finding out whether KDP Select has helped authors to sell more books. Many authors are now posting their experiences online as you can discover with a quick Google search.
Following are some examples.
David Gaughran has explained on his blog why KDP Select helps with rankings and why Amazon’s Bestseller Lists may have less influence on sales than they did before, writing,
“…when a book is borrowed through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library … that counts as a sale for ranking purposes (this has been confirmed by Amazon). … Those that aren’t in KDP Select, obviously, won’t have any borrows to help boost their ranking, and are now competing against books that do. On top of that, many self-publishers are taking great advantage of the promotional tools in KDP Select to put their book free for a few days, which often results in a huge post-free sales bounce, pushing all other books down in the rankings.”
Over at TheCreativePenn blog Jeff Bennington has written a post “Why Amazon’s KDP Select Is God’s Gift to Authors” in which he writes
“Some of you may not agree with Amazon’s monopolistic tactics, and that’s okay. Some of you, however, have jumped in with both feet. As an independent author, I’m in favor of KDP Select. My first promotion brought me into Amazon’s Top 100 (#55 Paid) and completely transformed the sales of all my books.”
In “How Amazon’s KDP Select Saved My Book” David Kazzle explains how he took his book that was “dead in the water” to No. 34 on Amazon’s Paid Bestseller list and it stayed in the Top 100 for 9 days.
How about non-fiction? Laura Pepper writes at BookBuzzr how sales of her non-fiction wedding guide tripled following 3 days free on KDP Select, adding,
“A great bonus is that there were plenty more ‘Customers who bought this also bought this’ results (16 pages worth!) which is FANTASTIC visibility and one of Amazon’s best internal marketing features.”
Lexi Revellian shares on his blog,
“Tentatively, at the end of January I tried a two day giveaway of Replica, at the same time raising the price to £1.99/$2.99, thus moving up to the 70% royalty from 35%. It did pretty well…So mid-February, I made Remix free for two days and increased the price. Remix sold 4,343 copies that month, plus 325 loans at $2.01. I have sold more books in other months, but I have never made so much money.”
Lexi Revellian then quotes Robert Bidinotto who posted this message on the Kindle Boards forum,
“Gosh, what a devious plot Amazon has going: They keep throwing MONEY at us authors, and keep offering us NEW OPPORTUNITIES, always trying to make us HAPPY, so that we continue to deal with THEM rather than their competitors! How can we POSSIBLY allow this ruthlessly manipulative scheme to continue? Shouldn’t we be giving Amazon’s inferiors a fighting chance?“
While not all authors’ experiences have been positive, most authors who have been very proactive and publicized their free days seem to have found some level of success with KDP Select. I encourage you to read the entire posts linked above because these authors reveal more about what they did surrounding their free days with KDP Select.
Have you enrolled any of your books in KDP Select? How was your experience? Please leave a comment below.