November Sales and why you won’t find Pegasus Pulp e-books in KDP Select

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
XinXii: 1

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.

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9 Responses to November Sales and why you won’t find Pegasus Pulp e-books in KDP Select

  1. Pingback: My stand on KDP Select | Cora Buhlert

  2. And it’s US-centric. “When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund.”

    Here’s what I can’t understand. Logic tells me that the global market must soon be bigger than the United States, esp. with that country imploding like a well-designed demolition. But there still seems to be a huge disconnect between what’s happening with the average USian and what people tweet and blog. Quarter of kids malnutritioned on one hand, let’s buy Kindles! on the other. I can’t figure it out.

    Which is a long way of saying, I agree with you. Like you, I’m betting long on the rest of the world rather than the US.

    • Cora says:

      And of course, the Kindle lending library as well as the whole Prime program (and the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Touch and the 79 US-dollar Kindle) is available only in the US as well. There is something called Amazon Prime in Germany, but it only offers you free priority shipping for 29.99 Euros a year, which is completely useless, because if you spend more than 20 Euros in one go, Amazon gives you free shipping anyway. So I just bundle my Amazon purchases until I get over 20 Euros.

      Though at least the books given away for free via KDP Select finally transfer to Amazon Germany (and France, Spain and Italy) as well, which they didn’t use to. So now I don’t just lose US sales to the glut of free books, I can at least download them if one strikes my fancy.

      I’m not really surprised that Amazon is being US-centric with this latest program, because they have always been US-centric. Though at least, they’re not as bad as Barnes & Noble who can just go bankrupt for all I care, since they don’t want to deal with Non-Americans anyway.

      What annoys me is how many indie authors are willing to throw international readers under the bus for the pie in the sky chance of some more exposure and a cut of 500 000 US-dollars or whatever it is. Even worse how many don’t look beyond Amazon and Barnes & Noble anyway. And when called on it, they respond that they don’t care whether their book sells in Liechtenstein.

  3. To anyone stumbling across this conversation, yes of course it makes sense for Amazon to be US-centric, considering it’s a US company. However, what I object to is Amazon being US-centric while strangling the rest of the markets worldwide, which is essentially what KDP Select is doing. And I look askance at those authors who, like you said Cora, say they don’t care whether their book sells in Liechtenstein. I BET they didn’t constrain their sales territory to the US, so it all looks rather hypocritical to me.

    On another point, while you will eventually have Kindle books (free and otherwise) filter to your part of the world, I still do not. I cannot buy a Kindle book, no matter how enticing it looks, and there have been many that have enticed me! I wouldn’t mind Amazon so much if they were consistent in their isolationism, but they’re not. They invite global content providers on one hand, then refuse to share the tools to publish on the other. And let’s not get started on their stratospheric shipping costs, even though a lot of books I used to order from them appeared to come from Germany…before there was even an Amazon Germany!

    As a business owner, I grudgingly respect Amazon for its business ruthlessness. As a world citizen and reader, I am less than impressed by their tactics. As an author, they are a necessary evil I need to deal with.

    • Cora says:

      I remember Amazon’s exorbitant shipping charges well from the time before there was Though I guess I should count myself lucky that they were willing to sell their product to me at all, considering how many bigger US online stores don’t offer overseas shipping at all. And still refuses to sell me certain kitchen and household items (not even consumer electronics either, but stuff like cutlery and tableware) that aren’t available at

      And of course Amazon’s random exclusion of whole swathes of the world is grossly unfair and makes no sense at all. If a customer is willing to buy a Kindle book and has a means to pay for it, what does it matter whether he lives in Nigeria or Chicago? Particularly since they are perfectly happy to accept e-books from countries to which they don’t even sell. I’m also surprised by how many indie writers don’t know about these practices. Or maybe they just don’t care.

      BTW, have you heard of Flipreads? Apparently, they are an indie friendly e-book store based in the Philippines and catering to the Asian market largely neglected by Amazon.

      Finally, it seems as if Barnes & Noble has finally noticed that there is life outside the US. Of course, so far they have only noticed that there is life in the UK, but maybe they will open PubIt to Non-Americans at some point.

  4. Pingback: December e-book sales and a look back on our first year in business | Pegasus Pulp

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