Several years ago, the dreaded Amazonasaurous started a program called “KDP Select.” This program offered indie authors the chance to showcase their work with some marketing help from Amazon’s site, and the chance to get paid while folks downloaded their stories for free. An indie could schedule a “free period” for their book(s) during which Amazon would fulfill their part of the bargain and all the author had to do was pimp like crazy.
One catch, though. In order to be eligible for KDP Select, indies had to pull the title(s) from all other distributors and markets. If for instance an indie author was selling that particular work from Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, etc, they would have to stop distribution before entering the book into the program. For a title that was already out there, this could take as long as three months to clear from all the channels.
Cynical folks, like myself, saw this for exactly what it is–a pressure point to ensure Amazon’s continued near monopoly on ebook sales and distribution. If the title in question became popular, readers hearing about it would have to visit Amazon to purchase the title or download it for free. This also meant, of course, they’d have to use the Kindle Reader app on their iOS/Android/Microsoft devices. Yet another stab at keeping the Amazon near monopoly in place.
Fast forward a few years. KDP Select is now so over stuffed with titles that hardly anyone is getting traction with it. But indies are still trying and as someone who has had great difficulty in marketing his own books, I understand why. However, I continue to struggle with the concept.
For me, it’s just like the question of Digital Rights Management. There are artists/companies out there that think they should control ownership of the content their customers have purchased. That’s asinine to say the least. If you purchase a freakin’ wrench at a hardware store, the store cannot then monitor your usage and decide to come after you should you decide to loan said wrench to your neighbor. I know this metaphor is a bit convenient considering how digital media can spread, but it illustrates how I feel about it.
I have the same problem with the idea of KDP Select. The “you can only sell your product(s) through us” is absolute bullshit. I personally don’t feel KDP Select is a worthwhile program because of the rights it demands you give up for what they give you. It’s always a give and take.
I don’t use DRM in my ebooks/audiobooks. I don’t believe I have the right to tell consumers how they must use my content. I won’t use KDP Select for much the same reasons–I think it’s blackmail. Pure and simple.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be an asshole to people that do. They will run through their free market periods and I’ll help pimp them. But I have a proposal for you consumers that download that content for free–pay for it later.
Download it. Read it. Like it? Then buy it. It’s very simple.
Many authors have their own stores where you can purchase their ebooks directly. If so? Then repurchase the book from there. If not? Then wait until the free period is over and purchase it then. You’ve already enjoyed the content. Now it’s time to pay the tab. And we’re not talking about a lot of money anyway. Put off that latte for the morning and put those bills to better use by supporting someone who’s busting their ass to create content you enjoy. If you think of it in those terms, it’s a very inexpensive proposition.