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Old 01-20-2019, 08:53 PM   #1
Apparition B5
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Question Indies on Amazon Kindle Only

Why do so many independent authors choose to lock their eBooks into the Amazon Kindle ecosystem?

With Amazon recently further locking down Amazon Kindle eBooks, I've been looking into other eBook stores. Many of the eBooks I've read are independently published and either solely available on Amazon Kindle, or only available on Amazon Kindle and Apple Books. Nothing on Google Play Books, Kobo, or independent eBook shops. It makes it difficult to avoid Amazon Kindle or leave the Amazon Kindle ecosystem should you choose to do so, which if I had to guess is the point. But isn't that leaving money on the table for the authors?
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:30 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Apparition B5 View Post
Why do so many independent authors choose to lock their eBooks into the Amazon Kindle ecosystem?

With Amazon recently further locking down Amazon Kindle eBooks, I've been looking into other eBook stores. Many of the eBooks I've read are independently published and either solely available on Amazon Kindle, or only available on Amazon Kindle and Apple Books. Nothing on Google Play Books, Kobo, or independent eBook shops. It makes it difficult to avoid Amazon Kindle or leave the Amazon Kindle ecosystem should you choose to do so, which if I had to guess is the point. But isn't that leaving money on the table for the authors?
I haven't participated in Author discussions for a while, but from what I remember, it's very hard to get into google books as an Indie. I'm not sure about Kobo, but from what I remember, many of the indie authors I interacted with were getting most of their sales from Amazon, and since Amazon offers extra perks if an author is exclusive to them, they chose to go exclusive. (any authors, feel free to jump in and correct me...as I said, it's been a while since I actively participated in author discussions, so things could be much different)

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Old 01-20-2019, 09:31 PM   #3
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I'm not an author. But from what I've read on various forums, many indies make the vast majority of their sales on Amazon. They feel it's just not worth the trouble for them to publish also somewhere else. Of course there are indie authors who feel otherwise, but that's the general impression I've gathered.
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:47 PM   #4
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Many of those authors are in KDP Select:

Quote:
KDP Select

Enrolling your eBook in our optional KDP Select program gives you the opportunity to reach more readers and earn more money. You can enroll a single book, your whole catalog or anything in between. Enrolling in KDP Select makes your book eligible for 70% royalty earnings on sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

If you make your eBook exclusive to the Kindle Store, which is a requirement during your book's enrollment in KDP Select, the book will also be included in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL). You can earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund based on how many pages KU or KOLL customers read of your book. Learn how payments are calculated.

Enrolling in KDP Select also grants you access to a new set of promotional tools. You can schedule a Kindle Countdown Deal (limited time promotional discounting for your book) for books available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk or a Free Book Promotion (readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time).
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Old 01-21-2019, 12:30 PM   #5
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It comes down to market size:

The epub markets collectively deliver less revenue to indie authors than Kindle Unlimited does. So a lot of authors, particularly the newcomers without established fanbases, find it more profitable to participate in a market where they don't have to compete for attention with the established tradpub authors. From their point of view, the absence of established authors in KU is a feature, not a bug. And there's a lot of money in there:

https://the-digital-reader.com/2019/...ing-pool-grew/

For 2019, KU will deliver over $300M in payouts (plus unspecified bonuses for the most popular authors) which are growing at around 13% year to year. That is more than the reported combined total net (including tradpub authors) at Apple, Nook, Kobo, Google, etc.

Now, theoretically, independent author/publishers should "go wide" once they've ramped up a reasonably sized fanbase, but that means giving up the KU revenues. For newcomers that is a big percentage of their revenues, often larger than the combined market share of the non-Kindle stores.

It is a suboptimal situation but it is a side effect of the weakness of Nook and the other non-Kindle stores. Each of those stores also has negatives beyond the sales volume that discourage many Indies (getting into ibooks directly requiring Mac hardware, Google's issues, Kobo's limited mindshare among mainstream customers, etc) while KDP Select offers other (lesser) promotional tools beyond KU access.

Kobo is the only ebookstore actively trying to recruit Indies out of KDP Select but while desirable, their perks don't add up to KU cash levels yet. What their perks do achieve is limit the defection of authors who started out wide. It's something but not enough. At least they're trying which is more than Apple, Google, Nook, and (heh) Microsoft are doing.

Until the other competitors get serious about slowing Kindle's growth Indies will keep on going where the big money is.

Last edited by fjtorres; 01-21-2019 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 01-22-2019, 02:37 PM   #6
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It's an annoying situation, to be sure. I really dislike retailer exclusives, and, as Amazon has major publishing ambitions plus Kindle Unlimited they have a lot of exclusives. (I understand Kobo is working on getting exclusive content, and even as a Kobo customer that annoys me on principle.)

I finally had to go to the effort of setting up Alf with my Calibre install because there were a few Dave Duncan Amazon exclusives.

Ebooks are *not* a complicated data format. I curse the publishers for insisting on DRM, which is the direct cause of the retail stupidity in e-books that we're dealing with to this day...
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:10 PM   #7
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I dislike exclusives as well. I have purchased a few backlist titles from favorite authors who have gotten their rights back and self-publish them. And I will still get freebies that are Amazon only. But for the most part I simply add them a list to see if they are ever released wide. If not, oh well.

As for Google Play, they are basically locked out to self-published authors. This is because in May 2015 there were scammers who were uploading pirated books by well known authors so when customers purchased a book they would get the money rather than the actual author or their publisher. The book would show up in search results with the real author and title, just the publisher would show differently. Plus they tended to price them lower. Amazon would then price match this lower price for the scammed book. So rather than come up with a way to actually address the issue, Google Play simply locked out the ability to create accounts there. So self-published authors who were in good standing prior to this are still able to upload their books. Authors who were not, including new authors, cannot. As far as I know they haven't reinstated the ability to create new accounts, but I'm not an author.
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:33 PM   #8
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Thanks for the answers, y'all.

It just seems silly to me. Part of the appeal of eBooks is that people can go outside of the traditional publishers and self-publish, but yet most of the self-published authors lock themselves to the Amazon Kindle. Which leaves those who don't want to use Amazon for whatever reason stuck to eBooks published by traditional publishers. But whatever works for the authors, I suppose.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:20 PM   #9
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The problem with ebooks and ereaders are that the ereaders are made by the book sellers for the purpose of selling books. It's hard for anyone who isn't a book seller to compete with this because the book sellers can sell the devices cheap since book sales are their object.

A better plan would be for hardware manufacturers to sell ereaders and book sellers to sell books. Of course that's not going to happen any time soon.

I think what might eventually change some of this will be when the justice department decides that exclusive books are anti-competitive, which, of course they are. And that vertical integration, book sellers providing ereaders, is anti-competitive, which it is. I'm not predicting this will happen but I hope it will eventually.

Of course if it does happen ereaders are going to be a lot more expensive. But all things considered that's a good thing.

The ideal would be a broad choice of ereaders, each of which can read books from any source.

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Old 01-22-2019, 11:49 PM   #10
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I think the appeal is in subscription. If an author self publishes and goes wide to sell the ebooks, then they are doing the exact same thing as a traditional publisher. The only thing they gain is bypassing the gatekeeper.

The only subscription model that is sustainable appears to be KU. As a reader I don't have to feel bad for taking advantage nor is there any risk involved for picking a wrong book. Wrong book can just be returned for a different one without counting against a quota. You can hate it or embrace it. I don't see any need to look wide when I can find enough in KU.
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Old 01-23-2019, 12:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barryem View Post
The problem with ebooks and ereaders are that the ereaders are made by the book sellers for the purpose of selling books. It's hard for anyone who isn't a book seller to compete with this because the book sellers can sell the devices cheap since book sales are their object.

A better plan would be for hardware manufacturers to sell ereaders and book sellers to sell books. Of course that's not going to happen any time soon.

I think what might eventually change some of this will be when the justice department decides that exclusive books are anti-competitive, which, of course they are. And that vertical integration, book sellers providing ereaders, is anti-competitive, which it is. I'm not predicting this will happen but I hope it will eventually.

Of course if it does happen ereaders are going to be a lot more expensive. But all things considered that's a good thing.

The ideal would be a broad choice of ereaders, each of which can read books from any source.

Barry
You keep forgetting that dedicated ereaders are a niche product. Most ereading is done on phones or tablets. There is not a single phone or tablet I am aware of that locks you into a certain ebook store. I fail to see how the justice department would be involved anytime soon.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:36 AM   #12
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You keep forgetting that dedicated ereaders are a niche product. Most ereading is done on phones or tablets. There is not a single phone or tablet I am aware of that locks you into a certain ebook store. I fail to see how the justice department would be involved anytime soon.
They won't be. At all.
People have been whining about Amazon exclusives since the launch of the first fire tablets seven years ago. Nothing happens because there is no reason for anything to happen. Exclusivity deals are just another business transaction.

If exclusive content were at all illegal, HBO, SHOWTIME, and NETFLIX, would have been called on the carpet long ago. Ditto for SONY, NINTENDO, APPLE, and Microsoft. WalMart, Sears, and BestBuy along with every other retailer with a house brand, too.

For that matter, B&N has long had a line of exclusive books from their publishing arm, STERLING. And they had an exclusive on the PEANUTS books long before Amazon secured any exclusives.

People who dislike Amazon keep drumming up flimsy excuses to sic the feds on them without bothering to consider they are merely following modern business practices used by most everybody in music, video, gaming, and electronics, among others.

Don't like Amazon?
Don't use them.
They won't miss you.
Just don't bother pretending they are some great evil portending the end of civilization. They're just another moneygrubbing multinational like hundreds out there. A bit more useful than most, they're here to stay, just like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, WalMart, and other "great evils" of the day.

The reason they are so big is because they are useful and lots of people use them. They save consumers money, they make small merchants money, and they make publishers big and small more money than anybody else. And as long as they make the Indies more money than they'd make by going wide they'll keep on getting exclusives.

The feds are watching but they have real problems to deal with and content exclusives aren't a problem.

Last edited by fjtorres; 01-23-2019 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:49 AM   #13
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Have you tried looking at SmashWords? It has far fewer books than Amazon, for the obvious reason that fewer sales are made.
If you were an author, where would you sell?
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:19 AM   #14
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Have you tried looking at SmashWords? It has far fewer books than Amazon, for the obvious reason that fewer sales are made.
If you were an author, where would you sell?
If I remember correctly, most of the authors who were on Smashwords back when I was paying attention to that were there in order to use Smashwords distribution service. For a while, it was the easiest way to be sold on retailers other than Amazon. I believe that's changed now, and that there is also another distribution service that some are using now, although I can't remember the name of it.

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Old 01-23-2019, 01:15 PM   #15
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You keep forgetting that dedicated ereaders are a niche product. Most ereading is done on phones or tablets. There is not a single phone or tablet I am aware of that locks you into a certain ebook store. I fail to see how the justice department would be involved anytime soon.
I do realize all that. I think I made it fairly plain that my post was wishful thinking.

I do think that even as a niche product there are enough people using ereaders that manufacturers might find them worth making if they didn't have to compete with readers that were subsidizes by book sales. That would give us more choices. Anyway my post was really a "wouldn't it be nice" type of post. Maybe someday ...!

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