KDP Select and a Not-So-Speculative Jaunt into Ebook Hell
I love the ebook revolution. It’s fantastic that it’s easier for authors to be read more than ever before, and I heartily endorse ebook adoption across the world. My dream is that we will have a truly global reading and publishing culture, where stories will be read because there are readers for them, not because of the arbitrary decisions made by a small bunch of Americans in New York.
While this revolution can march into a better world, it can also descend into ebook hell.
This is my personal vision of hell:
- ebooks are only available in .azw and they’re DRMed
- Amazon is the only company that sells books in the world
- the retailer takes at least 70% of the cut
- all your ebooks only exist in the retailer’s servers (in the cloud), because you can’t back them up to your hard drive due to DRM
- the retailer can continue to pull books from its digital shelves without elaborating on how the book had violated its terms of conditions or responding to its customers, because it has an unexplainable beef against gay characters in fiction (because hetero smut is okay, but somehow LGBT smut isn’t).
- readers in “international” countries must continue paying an arbitrary surcharge
- there are no more public libraries, because all ebook lending is done through Amazon if there is any lending to be done at all
- and everything is YA paranormal romance
Hah! I am sort of kidding about the final point (I said that this is my vision of hell after all), but really–that world sucks. And that world can happen, especially when Amazon pushes aggressive measures like the KDP Select program.
I like what Amazon has done for the ebook revolution. They made ebooks mainstream and they’re bringing in more readers and authors into the fold. That’s wonderful. I also like their competitive prices on e-readers. But seriously, I don’t want Amazon to be even more of a Big Brother. I want competition, I want choice, and I want options. I want to be able to buy from independent publishers or authors directly if I choose.
I want different retailers for ebooks. From as big as Smashwords, to a publisher-specific model like the Angry Robot Store, to the friendly co-op model like Book View Cafe (Vonda N. McIntyre personally responds to their emails!), and as small as Gallivant Books. I support those options and I want them to flourish.
So readers, when you buy your next book, please think about what ebook future you are supporting. And authors, we have your back. We want your business partners to treat you well, and going exclusively with Amazon is not my idea of a healthy partnership.
These are my opinions. Feel free to comment below to discuss this at further length (and disagreeing with me is okay!). I’m interested to hear what your ebook hell looks like, and also, what vision you have for an ebook heaven.
- Writer Beware ® – The Fine Print of Amazon’s New KDP Select Program
- The IndieView – Step Up Or Shut Up
- Kindleboards – (forum thread) Mark Coker at HuffPo: Amazon Aims to Empty Competitor Shelves of Indie Ebooks
- David Gaughran – How Much Do You Want to Get Paid Tomorrow?
- B. Justin Shier – Frida Fantastic on Ebook Hell
- Mobileread – (forum thread) I chose to “boycott” Amazon (international DRM problem)