The Skinny on Amazon’s Lending Library Program
Published on December 19, 2011 by lahilden | Views: 1086

Amazon’s new lending program is causing much debate among writers.  Admittedly, when I received this invite to join Amazon in my email box, I thought it an interesting idea and a great way to gain exposure.

Here’s Amazon’s letter.

Introducing KDP Select - A $6M Annual Fund for KDP Authors and Publishers!

KDP Select is a new option dedicated to KDP authors and publishers worldwide, featuring a fund of $500,000 in December 2011 and at least $6 million in total for 2012, giving you a new way to earn royalties, reach a broader audience, and use a new set of promotional tools.

Here’s how it works: When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund.  The monthly fund for December 2011 is $500,000 and will total at least $6 million in 2012.  You’ll also have access to a new set of promotional tools, starting with the option to promote your KDP Select-enrolled titles for FREE for up to 5 days every 90 days.

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The program looks enticing and sounds great if you read this offer quickly and you don’t allow the word “exclusive” to register in your mind, and if you don’t delve further into your past sales history to see what this will mean to you regarding future sales.  Amazon essentially has created a $500,000 monthly pool of cash they'll distribute to participating authors based on the number of times your book is borrowed from their new lending library.  Which means, if your book accounts for 1.5% of the downloads during the monthly lending period, you'll earn 1.5% of the pot, or in this case $7,500.

The problem I have with this is that you are only permitted to sell your books through Amazon, which means disappointing all your fans who are using the Nook, Sony, Apple, or other Android devices.  In addition, by pulling my books from other distributers, I lose any accrued sales ranking with them, making my books less visible.  

That is not to say this program has no merit, Amazon is the biggest distributer of eBooks with 85% of the market, and I sell many books through them.  But what about the other 15% who own a Nook or some other eReader device.  Word of mouth from someone who owns a Nook may send someone to Amazon to purchase and vice-versa.  I love my Kindle, but I sell many books on Smashwords as well, so for now, I wish to keep as many distributers as possible in the loop.