Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts on Amazon's KDP Select

When Amazon first announced its Kindle Direct Publishing Select program, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in carrots dangling, unlike a lot of small publishers and authors I hung back. There's an old saying: if a thing seems too good to be true, it probably is.

In this case, there's the caveat Amazon clearly states:
When you choose KDP Select for a book, you're committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP.
Grant Amazon exclusivity? Anyone that can't see the huge hook in those Amazonian carrots is blind or delusional. Eventually that exclusivity is going to hang you, in fact, slit your throat and truss you up like a pig for slaughter.

Exaggeration, you say?

Come listen, grasshopper. one of the clauses in Amazon's exclusivity contract states if you sell your work anywhere else, including your own website, you risk forfeited earnings, delayed payments, a lien on future earnings, or you may get kicked out of the Kindle Direct Publishing program altogether.

I've observed a great deal of backroom discussion through various indie publishing lists to which I subscribe. Some of the participants are considered gurus of the new publishing age, having engaged in deep sea diving of the print on demand sort, and now of the digital sort. To many of these swamis there is no market but Amazon. Amazon rules the world. And so all marketing strategies are targeted to maximize Amazon sales.

Funny, you know, because there's another saying about narrow-focused strategies: you need more than one basket for your eggs. Why? Because if you drop the basket that contains all your eggs, then you have no eggs. Many baskets. Many eggs. Lots of insurance.

So it's now interesting to read comments from some of those proponents of the Amazon strategy. Seems there's wailing rising through the ranks. Even gnashing of teeth. Why? Because, Amazon, like Sauron's Great Eye, has swept the multiverse and found teeny-tiny publishers and authors daring to contravene the exclusivity clause. They're selling their wares through their own websites, through Smashwords, through other retailers, aggregators and distributors. In other words, these Amazon-loving strategists have opted for many baskets, but also broken some of the rules regarding ownership of those baskets, all the while thinking they're much too small to be of notice.

Ever seen what an elephant does in proximity to a mouse? You really don't want to be in that traffic armegeddon. Which is exactly what's happening to many of the rule-breakers in the KDP Select program: they're being stomped. Publisher-pancakes.

Then you're going to ask, well, why not give Amazon exclusivity? Reasonable question. The answer should be quite obvious: before entering a business arrangement you research your potential partner. It's called due diligence. Given Amazon's history of predatory practices, why would you think it safe to swim the same waters? On the publishing map, they're that wee beastie with sharp, pointy teeth. Amazon has attempted to bully the Big Six publishers. What makes an indie publisher or author think they stand a chance against any predatory practice Amazon might consider, or that because they're now part of the Amazon nation they'll be exempt and safe?

Granting any individual, institution or enterprise complete control of your well-being is to invite abuse.

Don't do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment