Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kindle Lending Library and Amazon prime membership

The big bubbling news of Amazon is the launch of the Netflix-style pool of ebooks rolled into the membership. Not trying to be a know-it-all since I am the world's dumbest genius, but this was an inevitable move that I predicted last year. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. The initial pool of books is around 5,400 titles as of today. Expect that to blow up very soon, because of the other big development in the rumor stage: Amazon is looking to let self-published authors opt in to the library. I don't know anything of substance but The Passive Voice works off of an "informed tip" to explore the issue.

For readers, it is an amazing deal. Most Amazon customers would have Prime anyway, just to get the movies and the free shipping and the other benefits. Now you basically get 12 free books a year--and good ones, not just stuff an indie author made free (not that there is anything wrong with indies, but you will not see The Hunger Games free elsewhere.) More reading is always A Good Thing.

The biggie for writers will be: (1) compensation and (2) exclusivity. Amazon may well be worth the exclusivity. Obviously, I feel that way, having signed two books with them and happy to do more. A big library moves Amazon even further ahead of the other ebook markets, by orders of magnitude. It's the compensation question that's more of a concern, particularly long term.

One rumor is a payment fund by which writers will be compensated for checkouts. This is a good idea, but the size of the pie and the total number of slices are still uncertain. Even $100,000 a month is not very much if 100,000 authors are splitting it (I'd guess there are at least half a million indie authors at this point).

But writers ultimately write to be read. Back in the Stone Ages of pre-2009, we spent a lot of energy trying to get our books onto library shelves and getting noticed by readers. While discoverability will still remain a challenge, I like my odds a lot better when it's on a free digital shelf. Maybe those readers will connect and go on to try (and maybe buy) other books.

I write each book for one reader--the reader whose ideology may be changed, whose inspiration might blossom, or who might need those few hours of entertainment and escape. I don't know who that is. So I have to work as hard to reach as many readers as possible. The Prime lending library helps accomplish that mission.

If you have Prime, you can check out my Fear books (Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear are both releasing Dec. 20). I don't see a function to be able to "pre-checkout" but it's on the list of those available for loan. Maybe I'll have more there soon. Keep watching the skies.


Ann Best said...

It WILL be interesting to see how this plays out. And I hope I'll be able to figure it all out. I just became an Indie author, after first getting published with a small press (book is selling well). I did it because I don't have a lot of time (I'm 71) left in my life to go the "traditional" route again.

Very interesting post.
Ann Best, Memoir Author

author Scott Nicholson said...

Ann, it sounds like you have a lot to gain and little to lose (like most of us)!

Lindsay said...

It'll be nice if indies get a chance to participate! I give away ebooks for free anyway, so I wouldn't be too worried about compensation (though I might not enroll my whole series in the library without some perk :P). It seems like another way to gain exposure and find some new fans.

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