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

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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.


2 Responses to “Amazon Expands Kindle Owners' Lending Library To Self-Published Authors”

  1. At the beginning you talked about this applying to self-published authors, but then later wrote about publishers also partaking in the KDP Select program. Well if it’s publishers, do they have to get the author’s approval? And what is the breakdown of the payment then? Because in contrast to authors working solo, publishers are going to want a cut of that percentage too.

    And of course the more titles that are enrolled the smaller everyone’s piece of the pie is going to be, so if there’s also a publisher/author split that has to be made …

    Well, I guess we’ll see whether people signup or not.

  2. When they emailed me and consequently phoned me to discuss enrolling my books with them, I was a little sceptical about the program. Amazon wanted me to enrol my current books into the scheme, but I explained the difficulties of that, plus my reluctance to remove books from other online retailers in the run up to Christmas. I have enrolled a book with them but it’s one of my older titles that wasn’t available elsewhere, and I uploaded it especially for enrolling it in the library and therefore testing it out.

    I think 90 days is an awfully long time to have books exclusively at Amazon. I told them that, as well as explaining the difficulties they’ll face as they launch the program. Speaking from personal experience, I tried to get barnes and noble to remove some of my books from their store when they were discounting them and causing me trouble with price matching on Amazon, and it was four months and several emails to Smashwords later and they still hadn’t removed the books.

    I am interested to see how it pans out for them. They say that they’ll allow authors a two week grace period to remove books from every retailer, including their own site if they sell on it like I do. I’m not convinced two weeks is enough lead time with most publishers, especially if you’re dealing with them through Smashwords.

    Still, I was pleased that they approached me and discussed the opportunity with me. It made me feel as though I was getting somewhere with my books.


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