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Amazon or Nothing?

Like most independent or "indie" authors, I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon, the large online retailer who is largely responsible for upsetting the traditional publishing market.

I published my first book, Bloodlines: Cove Point Manor exclusively with Amazon. At first I was impressed with the sales which were, for me at least, quite brisk and generated what I thought was more than an acceptable income. However, as I read more articles published by other indies, I began to second guess my decision. Once my exclusivity with Amazon ran out, I "went wide", a term used by authors when they offer their books on multiple retailer sites. When I did this, I lost the per page read payment that Amazon pays when their Kindle Select subscribers read a borrowed e-book. The per page read payments were not very generous - around $0.004 US per page - and this is NOT a typo - less than a half-cent per page! This meant that my 300+ page novel returned only $1.20 for a full read compared to the purchase price of $3.99.

My first 6 weeks going wide brought in reasonable sales, but nowhere near what I was pulling in with Amazon. I also lost the per page reads which, as meagre as they are, still added to my monthly royalties. After 8 weeks, I stopped going wide and went back to exclusivity with Amazon. The sales were not thrilling, but were steady, and the page reads were increasing.

Last month I decided once again to pull my book from Kindle Select and go wide. Since publishing with 7 other online retailers, my sales with Amazon have plummeted and, of course, the page reads are zero. This move also had an adverse effect on my 2nd novel with sales and page reads disappearing from Amazon for it as well.

Today I have made the decision to pull my wide publications and go back with Amazon, even though this goes against my personal belief that my books - and those of other authors - are worth a lot more than $0.004 per page. However, there is no doubt that Amazon is the king of e-book sales, and they have a huge number of monthly subscribers that can borrow e-books and never have to pay for them. Without Amazon, I no longer have access to these millions (?) of subscribers. Since these Amazon subscribers no longer have to pay to read an e-book, why would they pay full price for mine?

I don't like this situation, but like thousands of other indie authors before me have discovered, without Amazon, an already tough road becomes almost impossible. Until another disruptive retailer comes along and offers indies a better deal than we have with Amazon, it looks like I will be with Amazon exclusively.

Better to have a little piece of the pie than no pie at all!

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