Most people know that Amazon is largely responsible for shaking up the publishing industry by allowing almost anyone to self-publish books. Amazon is also responsible for bringing the eBook into vogue and making e-readers such as the Kindle a part of our popular culture.
By disrupting the old guard, Amazon has allowed tens of thousands of authors to write and publish their works. Millions of people are now able to discover and enjoy stories that otherwise would never have been published. No longer are authors and readers held hostage by the big publishers who choose which author will be published and which select stories the public will read.
One of the many marketing tools Amazon has used to entice readers is the introduction of their Kindle Select program. For a monthly fee, readers are able to "borrow" eBooks (up to 10 at a time), read what they want and then "return" the book when they are done. For each page that is read, the author of the story receives a royalty. Amazon has created a new market of paid subscribers who get to read as many books as they like, yet never have to purchase the title.
In order for an independently published author, or "indie", to have access to this group of Kindle Select subscribers (estimates of the number of KS subscribers are in the millions), the author must agree to exclusively sell their eBook through Amazon for a 60 day period. This means they cannot make the eBook version available through ANY OTHER retailer during this period. In return, the indie author puts their eBook into the pile of millions of other eBooks and hopes that Kindle Select members borrow and read their books.
Not a bad deal for the reader or the indie, is it? Well, in my opinion, it's a great deal for the reader and for Amazon who gets paid a monthly subscription fee, but for the indie the story is not so great. Amazon pays the indie $0.004 - $0.005 per page read. That is not a type, it's not $0.04 or $0.05 per page, it is $0.004 - 4/10th's of a cent - per page read!
Amazon also counts pages differently from the actual published pages in a book, so a paperback that has 300 pages may be counted as only 275 pages by Amazon. If someone reads the complete eBook with 275 pages, the author is paid $1.10 for the book. That works out well for an author who sells their work for $0.99, but for books that would normally retail for $2.99 or more, it's not so great.
There are arguments both for and against enrolling in the Kindle Select program for authors, but for me, I feel that my work is worth more than $1.10. I don't have a large publishing house behind me, paying for marketing, proof-reading, cover design and formatting. All of those expenses come out of my own pocket, and they are not insignificant. Then there is the actual story writing process that, while fun, takes time, effort and a great deal of thought. All worth more than $1.10.
For now I have "gone wide" as they say in the industry, meaning that I have pulled Bloodlines: Cove Point Manor out of the Kindle Select program and made the eBook available on other retailer sites. No longer will I receive $0.004 per page read, but my book will be available to everyone, all around the world, and at a fair price to the reader and to me, the author.
I may end up putting Cove Point Manor back into the Kindle Select program after a few months, but in the meantime I will see how it performs by "going wide".