My first thought was that I'd won some kind of Amazon lottery (honestly, that's what the sign looks like - and I suspect that is not accidental!) but then realized that probably wasn't the case, so I looked into things further.
Basically, Amazon Select is a lending library set up through Amazon. To enrol books, the titles must be exclusive to Amazon for at least 90 days. They're allowed to be published in paperback and sold elsewhere, but not in digital format. The publisher of this book will then receive a percentage of the amount of money in the pot (for December it's $500,000, but next year they say it will be $6 million) according to the number of times a customer has borrowed the book.
So, the good points:
- Hopefully more money. It's another avenue in which to make royalties. Here is how Amazon explains it (though I think they've aimed high).
For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000 and the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000 in December and if your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn 1.5% (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 in December.
- You'll also be allowed to make your book free for 5 days, so introducing your work to a whole heap of new readers (that is, if you don't already have free books on Amazon).
- The exclusivity is only for 90 days, after which time your book will be able to be sold on other site.
- First of all, there's the exclusivity thing. I've often worried about the amount of control Amazon already has on an author's income. As it gets bigger and bigger, Amazon is effectively becoming a super-publisher, just without the quality control of acquisitions or editors. If something happened to Amazon (or it suddenly decided to pull all of my titles) I'll have lost about 75% of my income. Creating exclusivity only gives Amazon even more power.
- A member of Kindle Owners Lenders Library will only be able to check out ONE book a month. This tells me the customer is going to be pretty picky about which title they choose. Are they really likely to chance that one title on a newbie, indie author?
- Will it affect sales in the regular kindle store? If people can borrow the book for free, are they less likely to fork out the money to buy it?
- Once you sign up, you've got 3 days to change your mind, but then you're tied in for 90 days. Amazon then automatically re-signs you up for another 90 days once the first period has finish, UNLESS you go in a check a box on your bookshelf to say you don't want this to happen. Amazon does say they will send you an email 15 days before renewal, but we all know how easy it is to miss these things.
So what have I decided to do? Well, I'm in the lucky position of having numerous titles, two of which are new this month and as of yet (other than Amazon) are only available to buy on Smashwords. So this morning I've unpublished them from Smashwords and enrolled them in Amazon Select. This isn't too big a deal for me because sales on Smashwords are always small. The titles I've enrolled are two short story collections--one in my Marissa Farrar name, and one in M.K. Elliott. Choosing short story books could work against me. People are probably less likely to borrow the short story titles than if I'd enrolled my novels, but I didn't want to take that kind of risk just yet.
For now it's just a case of 'wait and see'. To be honest, I'll be surprised if I get many people borrowing my books at all, but I guess it depends on what my competition is. Either way, I'll be sure to report back and let you all know how it's going and whether it's worth enrolling in KDP Select.