Only on Amazon

Only on Amazon

Back in the old days ūüėČ a number of people would get upset when they heard that an e-book store had gotten an exclusive on something. There was a bit of back and forth: Amazon might get something, Barnes & Noble might get something else.

Well, Amazon clearly sees this as a big strategy…and they are investing in it.

That doesn’t go just for e-books (which I’ll talk about shortly). There was this weird little app called Flappy Bird. It was really hard to play, and not much happened in it…but it was very, very popular.

So popular that, reportedly, the creator withdrew it from sale…because it was too addictive.

Naturally, that made it even more of a legend.

People were paying hundreds of dollars for used phones that already had that app installed, so they could keep playing it.

Well, Amazon must have paid a lot of money to get the exclusive rights for

Flappy Birds Family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which, yes, is an official version (there are a lot of rip-offs out there).

You would think they might have licensed it for the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile*)

which would make sense and be a good way to really push their new phone (which I’m liking more and more as I use it more).

Nope. they released it exclusively for the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

which, by the way, is discounted right now to $84 from $99.

I’m not sure if that will work to push people over the edge to get a Fire TV. I like mine a lot, and when we buy our next TV, we’ll get a second one to use. It’s still embryonic, but they are improving it. It’s really fast! When I use my Roku, it takes several seconds for YouTube to load. With the Fire TV, it’s a fraction of the time.

Okay, what about books?

There are more than 600,000

Kindle Exclusives (at AmazonSmile*)

in the USA store!


That’s a lot of books to have locked into one source.

Of course, you don’t need to own a Kindle to get them…you can get free Kindle reading apps for a lot of devices.

Hey, there was a new option in the search results to limit them to Kindle Unlimited titles!

That resulted in 587,648 titles at the time of writing.

For $9.95 a month, you can read more than half a million titles you can’t read (as e-books) anywhere else.

Now, naturally, you may be thinking that it doesn’t matter how many books there are if there aren’t books you want to read.

Sorting by New and Popular, here are the overall rankings of the top five Kindle Unlimited Kindle Exclusives:

  • #55
  • #42
  • #83
  • #84
  • #19

Those are their ranking among paid books…not as free books.

Four out of five of them were Amazon imprints (traditionally published by Amazon): the fifth one may have been published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

This is one of the big problems for Hachette and the other Big Five publishers.

Amazon is rapidly growing it’s “direct to customer” business…where they don’t need to buy books from the tradpubs (traditional publishers).

I think it’s safe to say that the tradpubs have not come up with a robust direct to customer strategy yet (although they have made moves in that direction).

These aren’t all new authors, by the way: one good example is that the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming are here.

Hachette may be fighting so hard because they want to lock something into place before the situation just gets worse. Buying another year of time might let them get something going in direct to customer…maybe.

How does Amazon get the exclusives? After all, it seems like it would make more sense to have your book available to more people.

For the big name/tradpubs, they pay for it…presumably, big time. Amazon doesn’t need to make a profit on selling books: it’s a small part of their overall business.

For indies (independent publishers, might be just an author), exclusivity is a requirement to have your book be available through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)…again, if you are an indie (a tradpub doesn’t need to make a book exclusive to be in the KOLL, I believe).

Amazon is literally the only legal place in the USA to get some of the world’s literature as e-books.

It’s a different world than it was. Barnes & Noble used to have some exclusives in paperbooks in their stores, but nothing like this.

What do you think? Does it bother you that everyone has to deal with the same company to read such a large amount of books as e-books? If you can get them in the public library (meaning that they dealt with Amazon), does that make it okay? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus story: Amazon Associates love to link to Kindle books…to promote the books they like and recommend to their audiences. Associates do not get money for Kindle Unlimited borrows…

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


3 Responses to “Only on Amazon”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    There was an article in today’s WSJ:
    that has a table of the most popular books on Amazon’s kindle for 2013 — comparing their availability on the three book subscription services and two public libraries: San Francisco Public, and a county library in South Carolina. Very few of the top titles were available from any of the subscription services while many were available as ebooks from the two libraries — doesn’t really get into the waiting times at the libraries though.

    BTW you said in your post:
    “get them in the public library (meaning that they dealt with Amazon)”
    What do you mean that they dealt with Amazon? I don’t understand.

    I have no problem with the exclusivity — as long as it brings more income per unit to authors. Anything that takes the tradpubs down a peg and helps us transition to business models that bring content creators and customers closer together is good — even if in the short term it leads to restrictive distribution channels.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I’ll have to look at the article…the wait times have often been huge, when I’ve looked, and I do think that matters.

      As to what I meant (and I see I could perhaps have said it more clearly): there are people who sort of don’t think about how books get to a public library. Let’s say they wanted to read the James Bond books as e-books, but were “boycotting Amazon” for some reason. They might then say that they will get the e-books from their public library. The books, though being published by Amazon, would still mean that Amazon got compensated for them. Not necessarily by the library directly (it could have gone through Overdrive), but the books in the library still need to have generated a licensing fee for the publisher…and Amazon, in the case of Kindle exclusives, is typically either the publisher or the platform.

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    I have no problem dealing exclusively with Amazon for ebooks; in fact I prefer to do so. I’m in the “May the Hatchettes of the world all rot in hell” camp. I consider the “tradepubs” to be the Monsanto of the book world.

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