Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Happens to Kindle Sales If An Author Rejects Amazon's KDP Select?

  • This is a rant. I want to understand what has happened to my book sales on Amazon's Kindle. I suspect foul play. Yup, a conspiracy of sorts, although I cannot prove anything. I'd love to hear about other author's experience with this.

Here's the issue. The digital editions of my 5 books are available for all e-book readers. Kindle, Nook, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc., etc. Before Amazon introduced KDP Select, I was selling lots of books on most of these bookseller websites. I still am on all but Kindle.

Since I rejected Amazon's effort to enroll my books in KDP Select, my sales of Kindle editions have dropped to almost zero, but my sales to other booksellers, especially Nook and Apple, have grown and grown. 

Is Amazon punishing me for rejecting KDP Select or is this pattern just a coincidence? My digital media acquaintances tell me that Amazon would never do anything to overtly punish anyone. The key word being "overtly." They also tell me that in the digital world there are no accidental reactions to an action and no coincidences.

I'm told that Amazon (and others) use algorithms (that word again) to determine where a product or book is listed, and that subtle shifts in this tool can reduce or increase the likelihood of anyone finding my book through a search.

So what's wrong with KDP Select anyway. Participating authors claim to be reaching many new readers. Well, consider just one of Amazon's explanatory notes: 

  • "What does it mean to publish exclusively on Kindle?
  • When you choose to enroll your book in KDP Select, you're committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. "
So, an author who chooses to participate in this Amazon program must withdraw his or her books from all other digital retailers. Only readers with Kindles would have access to their work. No amount of increased Kindle sales can justify such an exclusive arrangement, in my opinion.

Well, I made my choice and have to face the consequences. I have no regrets. But the writing world should know the risks inherent in spurning Amazon's power.

Robert Tell
Novelist, Poet and Wannabe Golfer