The results of our first survey are in, and it seems indie authors are split over the benefits of Amazon’s KDP Select program. 29.55% say that the program benefits indie authors, while 27.27% believe that it doesn’t benefit them. Meanwhile, 25% say that it benefits some but not others, while 18.18% says that – after three and a half months – it’s still too early to tell for sure.
KDP Select allows authors to have their books borrowed by Amazon Prime members. They earn a share of a pot (so far, usually around $500,000 to $600,000 per month) for each borrow, and for the first three months a borrow has been worth $1.70 (December), $1.60 (January) and $2.01 (February). Participating authors also get 5 free promo days per 90-day period. In return, though, they must make their books exclusive to Amazon.
It’s clear that from a purely economic point of view, KDP Select makes sense to authors who sell their books in the 35% royalty bracket. For these authors, a single borrow can be worth four or five actual sales. For authors whose books are in the higher price brackets, though (i.e. over $2.99), the situation is much less clear because a borrow is worth less than a purchase. For these authors, the question is whether KDP Select still offers enough increased exposure to increase overall interest enough to compensate for any lost purchase income.
KDP Select certainly seems to draw out some strong responses (one way or the other) from authors. In our author interview series, some authors such as Shannon Shaw have been generally positive about the program while others such as Caddy Rowland have not been so keen. Away from the question of royalties and profits, it seems that some authors worry about the program potentially conditioning readers to expect cheaper and cheaper ebook prices. After all, isn’t a good book still worth paying for?
KDP Select is still in its early days and there’s plenty of time for authors to consider further their willingness to participate. Many of those who are opposed to KDP Select seem to be concerned not so much about what KDP Select is, but about what it could become. So while the program seems to be a no-brainer for 35% royalty authors, for the rest it’s a much more difficult question and the debate looks set to run and run.