The volume of self-published authors, otherwise known as independent, that continue to outsell Big Six books on Amazon's Kindle store is pretty surprising. Less so has been Amazon's decision to operate its own imprints, ensnaring some of those successful indies into formal, mutually beneficial publishing deals. However, it looks like Amazon is now ready to try and tie more independent authors into writing books just for them.
As of 8 December, Amazon launched KDP Select, a new scheme to tempt independent authors into publishing individual books exclusively on the KDP platform.
Exclusivity means that these author's opted in books would no longer be available for services such as Apple's iBooks. Many have suggested that Amazon's share of the eBook market was dramatically increased by the popularity of iPads and iPhones, which have access to a Kindle app. However, after Apple effectively locked Amazon out of having an in-app eBook store, the relationship between the two seems to have grown frosty.
Recent estimates suggest that by 2012, regardless of this change, Amazon would control 50% of the market for all books, with both brick and mortar and digital outlets losing out. The success of the Kindle Fire, their recent entry into the tablet market, and the growing ubiquity of Kindle devices with digital reading only seems to support this.
Based on this mix of projection and assumption, it would appear that Amazon will remain the most profitable platform for indie authors. Those most comfortable with sharing their sales data rarely report a book selling more outside of Amazon with a competitor. However, any exterior sales would be lost through exclusivity, and regardless of its volume, Apple's money is as good as Amazon's.
It still looks as though if authors are going to go exclusive with anybody, Amazon is the company to do it with, but what do they get in return? This is when we have to look at the really juicy part of the KDP Select offer. Authors who opt books in to this exclusive deal will be given access to a set of tools giving them more control over how their book is marketed on Amazon.
The most significant part of the KDP Select offering is that an author can now sign up for their book to be available to be freely borrowed by Amazon Prime members. In return, they receive a cut of a pot of money; $500,000 for December with $6 million set aside for 2012.
The other hugely exciting new feature of KDP Select is that author's can choose for their individual book to become free for a five day period. Free books on Amazon were previously controlled by their royalty agreement; a free price appearing on Barnes and Noble eventually leading to Amazon matching. That's a frustrating experience if you're trying to run a promotion, one you can avoid by making your book exclusive. That isn't all though! There are rumours about other features being on the horizon.
The most popular rumour at the moment seems to be that indie authors will eventually be allowed to accept pre-orders for releases through Amazon. That's a powerful promotional tool, giving indie's a new means to generate interest prior to release. This can be a big challenge, and any inroad that will assist with 'buzz generation' would be gladly received.
Saying decisively whether or not any of these new features will boost the popularity of any one independent release is impossible. However, all of these revelations point towards Amazon aggressively pursuing author exclusivity. Will I sign up? That's a tricky question.
Visit www.legacy-universe.com to find out more about Martin Perry's eBook releases, and read more about this new science fiction series. The books are currently selling at sale prices. You can also email him at email@example.com. Come back in a week or so for the next instalment!
Follow Martin Perry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LegacyUniverse