First of all, I just noticed that I never posted the November sales figures. Well, they weren’t all that great. The month started out pretty well, but then sales ground to a halt with all of those Amazon promotions over the Thanksgiving weekend (Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all that jazz). Amazon Germany has even been running Cyber Monday three Mondays in a row, which isn’t the idea as far as I understand it. Never mind that the American’s were probably too busy eating turkey to buy e-books.
So here are the figures. In November 2011, I sold 8 e-books across all platforms, the same as in October. The detailed breakdown is as follows:
Amazon US: 5
Amazon UK: 2
So far December started quite well and I’m really hoping for the rumoured surge after Christmas, when people get their new e-readers.
The other big topic in the e-book world at the moment is Amazon’s new KDP Select program. The gist of the program is that it allows you to enroll your books into the lending library for subscribers of Amazon Prime, a US only program I don’t quite get, which involves free shipping, video streaming and borrowing one Kindle book per month and perhaps other perks as well. You don’t get paid for borrowed books (kind of obvious) directly, but you get a percentage from a pot of 500000 US-dollars after three months. Joining KDP Select also gives you the possibility to set the price of your book to free directly rather than via the price-matching tricks many indies are using. However, there is one big drawback to joining KDP Select, namely that the e-book in question has to be exclusive to Amazon for a period of at least 90 days. The full text of the e-mail sent to all KDP users and extensive discussion can be found at The Passive Voice.
I got that mail, read it and thought, “Sorry, but no way I’m doing that.” I don’t mind the lending library, though I strongly doubt that anyone would waste his or her one free download per month on a low-priced short story. I don’t mind the “free” promotion either, though it’s not something I am likely to do, at least not at the moment. But the exclusivity clause was the dealbreaker for me. Because I want my e-books available in as many places as possible. I have readers who don’t have Kindles and need other formats and I have readers who live outside Amazon’s zone of now 19 favoured countries and who would be affected by the 2 US-dollar surcharge or won’t be able to buy at Amazon at all.
And though I don’t sell a lot in non-Amazon venues at the moment, I still sell there. At the moment, my sales breakdown is approx. 66 percent Amazon US, 20 percent Amazon UK and 14 percent non-Amazon venues like OmniLit/AllRomance, XinXii and DriveThruFiction. And I’d rather grow those 14 percent than abandon them for a few cents at most from the Kindle lending library pot. Besides, I actually got a royalty payment from OmniLit/AllRomance e-books before I got one from Amazon.
KDP Select has been controversial in the self-publishing/indie book world. Plenty of people have joined and some are seeing results, while others like myself are skeptical. Here is a post by Scott Nicholson in favour of KDP Select and one by J.A. Marlow against the program.
Writer Beware takes the terms of the KDP Select agreement apart and comes down on the contra side.
Mark Coker of Smashwords also speaks out against KDP Select at the Huffington Post. Of course, Mark Coker is naturally biased considering that he is the CEO of the e-book retailer/distributor Smashwords and that his business model is directly threatened by KDP Select. Nonetheless, his points make sense. I just hope he uses the KDP Select announcement as an incentive to make Smashwords more friendly to people who format their own e-books and don’t want to deal with the Meatgrinder. Because while I think Smashwords is a great idea, I don’t use them at the moment because of the formatting issue.
David Gaughran wonders about the wider implications and whether subscription models will be the future of reading and bookselling. Now I’m probably the odd person out here, because I don’t use subscription models, e.g. I don’t have an account at Netflix or similar streaming video/DVD mailing services. It’s just not the way I consume media and it never will be. I’m greedy. If I really like something, I want the opportunity to enjoy it again and again whenever I want. Nonetheless, David Gaughran’s points are worth considering.
ETA: According to this thread on the Kindleboards you can’t even offer a sample of your work on your own website, if your book is in KDP Select. I find this program less enticing by the minute.