Friday, December 16, 2011

Amazon versus the World

There was an interesting development in ebook publishing this week as Amazon introduced a new program for members of Amazon Prime. Basically, it is somewhat like a Netflix subscription service for indie books, where readers can pay $79/year and then "borrow" books that are a part of the service (and stream movies as well).

For indie authors like myself, Amazon is now giving us the option of taking part in this scheme. Every time a book is borrowed, the author gets a part of the pool of money that has been set aside from reader fees. The amount of the payment for each "borrow" depends on the amount of money in the pool divided by the number of books borrowed during the month overall. The catch? We have to remove our books from all other resale channels. That means taking our books down from Barnes and Noble, Apple's ibookstore, the Sony bookstore, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. To me this is a troubling development indeed. Anything this anti-competitive can't be good in the long run for anybody but Amazon. The Netflix model is an interesting concept. It might even work for ebooks, but even Netflix doesn't demand complete fealty from movie producers.

As the ebook revolution marches on, I'm sure there will be continuous changes for quite some time as Amazon dukes it out with the rest of the world. They are already far and away the dominant player, but apparently that's not enough. As far as their new program goes, I'll sit back and watch it for a while to see how things work out. I'm definitely not diving right in. As a writer, I'd rather concern myself with simply making my next book the best it can be...


  1. Yep, I'm thinking the same, Kenneth. Sit back and watch to see how it goes. I would not be prepared to go exclusive with Amazon for Kindle when (here in the UK) other ereaders are coming onto the market for the first time, like Kobo for example. Most of my sales are through Amazon but that's not to say it will always be the case for the future. It certainly is an interesting time to be an author.

  2. Yeah, it is interesting... I'm thinking about putting No Cure on the program to try it out, but I'm certainly not crazy about the exclusivity issue! It does seem like a monopolistic abuse of power by Amazon.