Were you listening? Did you hear it? The snap and crunch of digital teeth… The rumbling roar of a giant, market eating monster? Did you hear the screams and cries of small, upstart lifeforms as they quivered in fear?
The Amazonasaurus. The wrathful, menacing, carnivorous giant decided it’s had enough of the small-time animals like Diesel Books, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. They were nipping at its heels by providing ebooks for its platform without the dreaded “amazon” tax.
The amazonasaurus, a massive, bloated creature that requires more and more of the food chain to survive, decided to evolve. Rather than being content to live side by side with the other creatures, ignoring their occasional nips from its massively stocked island, the creature declared war on all those that would dare threaten its gluttony.
This new psychological evolution of the Amazonasaurus is called “KDP Select.” Now those of who you who aren’t in the writing biz have probably never heard of it, unless you’ve been paying attention to some of the conversations on twitter, facebook, and the like.
In an effort to starve out its competitors, the Amazonasaurus created a program for authors that guaranteed them access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library. This means their books will show up as select choices in that library, thus giving indie authors, and even mainstream authors, more exposure. It’s a marketing dream, if the Amazonasaurus is to be believed.
What does the author have to do to participate? Guarantee the Amazonasaurus an exclusive right to the title for 90 days. This means no books to smashwords, none to Diesel, and especially none for B&N. For 90 days, the Amazonasaurus will “market” your books to the masses and all you have to do is guarantee only those who shop the Amazonasaurus will be able to find it.
In some ways, this is a trap for us authors. If you read the KDP Select fine print, when your 90 days is up in the program, it automatically renews. In other words, you’ll have to log in to their console and forcefully end your participation. And if you change your mind? Unpublish your book to get out of the contract? The Amazonasaurus reserves the right to kick you off its store. For forever.
So it’s a Faustian bargain, dear authors, or one made with Tony Soprano. You don’t get a way out, because the Amazonasaurus puts its jaws right over your head like the dreaded sword of damacles.
So what if you do all this and still make no money? Well, that’s your fucking problem. You have spent 90 days fucking your customer base with no guarantee of return. Nothing. If you were making $30.00 per month (meager, but very realistic) on royalties from ALL your ebook outlets, your monthly royalties may dwindle to nothing. Again, there’s no guarantee of anything.
If I were to be conspiracy-minded, here’s what I think will actually happen. The Amazonasaurus is going to grossly INFLATE the royalties for authors in KDP Select. Why? Very simple. If indie authors who are used to making $30 a month suddenly make $60 a month for that 90 days, then the idea of opting out of KDP Select is foolish from a practical perspective. Very foolish. The Amazonasaurus then starves the other outlets by paying its authors for doing nothing more than refusing to let their books into those markets.
Thus, Smashwords, Diesel, and even the terribly klunky awful secondary powerhouse known as B&N, fold, which, of course, leaves the Amazonasaurus control of the island once and for all. In other words, the Amazonasaurus has a monopoly on the ebook market.
If I were to engage in serious paranoia, I would suggest that the Amazonasaurus will pull all of its non Kindle-Fire-centric apps from the various app stores. This means you could no longer read your kindle books on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device. Thus, you are forced to purchase one of their hardware offerings. Yes, truly paranoid, I know. But it’s the kind of shit large corporations do. It just is.
So what’s my standing? Well, I need the money. I really need the exposure. But, as cynical as I am, I’m also a bit of an idealist. Fuck ’em, is what I say. I refuse to let the Amazonasaurus dictate where I sell my wares. From a practical standpoint, there’s no real guarantee this is going to do anything for me other than further limit my exposure to new readers.
I’m boycotting KDP Select and the Amazonasaurus’ Faustian bargain. I’m not going to give my fellow authors shit if they choose to participate–that’s their business, not mine. I own a kindle and I doubt I’m going to purchase another book for it from the Amazonasaurus. Instead, I’ll purchase from one of the other outlets, and then convert the book to kindle format. I’m a geek. I know how to do this crap.
The Fiendmistress has often joked that Amazon is the Walmart of the internet. Now, more than ever, I think she’s right. So, Amazon, go roar and scare and do all the other things you do. Go be the giant that tries to devour everything in the foodchain. Just remember–monopolies are illegal. And you too may one day be an endangered species…