Amazon Expands Kindle Owners' Lending Library To Self-Published Authors

As rumored, self-published authors who agree to make their e-books available exclusively on Kindle for 90 days are now eligible to include their books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and have the chance to make extra money.

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is calling the program “KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing, the name of its self-publishing platform] Select.” Here’s how it works: “If a KDP author or publisher chooses to make any of their books exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those books are eligible to be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.” When somebody borrows a book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, its author is paid out of a monthly fund–$500,000 for this month, and “at least $6 million for all of 2012.”

Amazon launched the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for traditionally published authors last month. Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle can “borrow” one title per month, from a library of 8,949 books, for free. A few publishers agreed to make their titles available, but Amazon has not received publisher consent for all the books included in the program. In many cases, Amazon is simply paying the wholesale price for the book each time somebody borrows it. Not surprisingly, many book publishers, agents and authors are concerned about the program, and the Authors Guild has criticized it.

KDP authors who include their books in the program are not guaranteed to receive payment. This is how payment works:

The monthly royalty payment for each KDP Select book is based on that book’s share of the total number of borrows of all participating KDP books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP Select books are 100,000 in December and an author’s book was borrowed 1,500 times, they will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in December. . . . Enrolled titles will remain available for sale to any customer in the Kindle Store and authors will continue to earn their regular royalties on those sales.

Amazon says “31 of the top 50 KDP authors have already enrolled 129 titles. These authors include J. Carson Black, Gemma Halliday, J.A. Konrath, B.V. Larson, C.J. Lyons, Scott Nicholson, Julie Ortolon, Theresa Ragan, J.R. Rain and Patricia Ryan.”

The release also notes that authors and publishers who sign up for KDP Select “have access to a new set of promotional tools, starting with the option to promote their enrolled titles for free for up to five days every 90 days.”

I think there will be a lot of discussion of this program online today, particularly about how the payment works–I want to sort through all of it and ask Amazon a few questions and I will report some more on this later today. For now, it is worth noting that the traditional publishers who agreed to have their books included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library were paid up front–they were paid regardless of whether their books are borrowed or not. That is not the case with the self-published authors.