KDP Select: authors, add your books to the Kindle Owners Lending Library
When I went to check the sales this morning on Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet (it’s going better than expected, by the way…thanks to everybody who has purchased it, reviewed it, and/or told other people about it!), it wouldn’t refresh at first. It told me it didn’t have the right number of columns.
So, I basically logged out and back in.
There were two new columns:
- KDP Select (all of the values were “N”, which I presumed was for “No”, and would have the option of being “Y” for Yes)
- Units Borrowed (which were all zeroes)
I already allow lending through the old style lending (person to person not on the same account, once only for fourteen days), so I knew that wasn’t it.
I did a little quick research and found this:
Publishers (which are often one-person operations…an author) who use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing can now allow those books to be included in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (which is one of the new benefits of being a paid Prime member).
That’s interesting, and has some implications both for authors and for readers.
Readers are going to probably get a lot more choices through Prime lending. However, the choices before weren’t self-selected. This may change the nature of a book you borrow. What happens if you borrow one…and you don’t like it, because it isn’t up to your editing/formatting standards? You can only borrow up to a book a month: you may feel it wasn’t “borrow-worthy”. I don’t think you can return the borrowed book and borrow a different one, like you can return a purchased Kindle store book within seven days for a refund.
For authors, the payment makes this a gamble. It could be a bonanza, but it might take away from royalties for you also.
Why do I say gamble?
You’ll have no idea how much you’ll make until after the fact.
Someone who sells a book for $2.99 and meets the other parameters for the 70% royalty plan (not blocking text-to-speech, enabling peer-to-peer lending, and a few others) gets about $2.08 (depending on delivery charge…a large file costs more, but that’s around a penny).
How much do they get when people borrow the book through the KOLL?
This KSP Select intro page explains it:
Amazon is setting a pool of $500,000 for KDP authors for the KOLL for December 2011 (and will do at least half a mil like that each month in 2012…they say there will be six million dollars up for grabs).
You get paid based on what your share of the “borrows” is. They explain it this way:
“How is my share of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library fund calculated?
Your share of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Fund is calculated based on a share of the total number of qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles. 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.”
So, the fewer other books get borrowed, the more your books get.
I always want to root for everybody’s books to do well. We do benefit if there are more borrows (as Amazon puts it) altogether, but it does seem a bit odder to want the bigger pie. What an author would get paid isn’t based on the absolute value of your book to the borrower, but on the relative value.
Note that this is only a “competition” among KDP publishers: you aren’t competing with non-KDP titles in the KOLL.
I haven’t decided yet if I want to participate (I’ll think about it through the day).
It’s far more complex than it might seem at first, and there is going to be a tendency to rush into it, I think.
- Discovery. That’s probably a very big one. People will be looking at what books are available in the KOLL, and see your book. If they decide not to borrow yours (remember, that’s a big threshold…only one book can be borrowed per paid Prime membership a month), they might decide to buy it instead. I’d probably have to hope for that with my Kindle Fire book…someone can consume it in a month, certainly. They might want to have it in their archives for reference (and I do plan to add to it), but that’s a tough call. Do I count on them seeing my book, but choosing to borrow The Hunger Games instead? This, by the way, is one way Overdrive sells public library participation to publishers. They tell the publishers that your book may not be available to borrow anyway…so people will see it there, but not be able to get it (http://www.overdrive.com/files/PubWhitePaper.pdf)
- “Word of mouse” (that’s what I call “word of mouth” using a computer): this could add to reviews of the books and people mentioning it to other people in tweets, on Facebook, in e-mail, and so on
- Money: You might get borrow when you wouldn’t get sales. If not very many other people get borrows, you could get a good chunk of change you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. That’s definitely something to think about: will people borrow your book who wouldn’t have bought it?
- I think people may hold borrowed books to a higher standard than they hold purchased books. You can buy as many books as you can afford: you can only borrow one a month. I think that may surprise people…vicious reviews when they wouldn’t have bothered if they’d purchased it and returned it. They can’t get back the “borrow”…they can get back the purchase price within seven days. I have titles in the Kindle store I’ve been thinking about pulling, because they are outdated. I still have to think about that. If someone borrowed one, they might never get something from me again
- Loss of sales versus borrows. That’s going to vary a lot. It could be that once your book is borrowed, there is no reason to buy it. It’s going to depend on the nature of your book. This also only matters if the borrower would otherwise have bought it.
- No control over the amount of money you get it. Let’s say that someone puts a tremendously popular book in to KDP Select. That hurts your share of the pot. Let’s say there are 500 borrows of your book. If there are 100,000 borrows altogether, you get more money than if there are 200,000 borrows. That makes it hard to predict, and your compensation is based on relative value.
- Exclusivity: this is a big requirement. You can not sell the book except through the KDP. You can not directly sell it through your website, or through Smashwords or Barnes & Noble. I don’t do any of those things, but that will matter to some people. There is a ninety-day timeframe on this, but still….
Well, I’m going to contemplate this before I do it. That makes me a little itchy, since every day you aren’t in the program cuts back on your share, hypothetically. We are already at December 8.
I’m not a fan of doing well because others do poorly. I love competition, but only if it drives all the competitors to better performance.
I’ll be interested in hearing what you think about this, both as authors and readers.
Update: here is the
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.