When you publish your ebook through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, you have the option of enrolling it in what is called KDP Select. Doing so gives you promotional options that you otherwise wouldn’t have, but these come at the price of granting publishing exclusivity to Amazon.
There are four main things you get when you enroll a book in KDP Select:
1. The ability for you to give away your book for free for five days (either consecutive or non-consecutive) in a 90-day period.
2. The ability to promote your book as a Countdown Deal. This is a limited-time discount of your book.
3. The ability for Amazon Prime members who own Kindle devices to borrow your book for free through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program. You still get paid, though (more on this below).
4. The option to earn higher royalty rates (70%) when customers in India, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico buy your book. Otherwise, the royalty rate for those countries is 35%.
These benefits can be great for getting reviews of your book and getting it into the hands of a lot of readers. The first two are most important in this regard, with the third being more of a benefit for Amazon Prime members than the book’s author, and it could in fact be a drawback (again, see below). The fourth is attractive because it means more money in your pocket.
What you agree to
You agree to publishing the digital version of your book exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. This means that your book can’t be available on your website, in the iBookstore, in the Nook ebook store, or anywhere else for the duration of the 90-day period.
As part of enrolling in KDP Select, you agree to including your book in Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). This means that Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle can download your book for free. (One of the perks of being a Prime member is that you can download one book from the KOLL every month for free.) You as an author do still get paid, however. Amazon has what is called the KDP Select Global Fund. This is usually around $1.2 million, and it gets replenished every month. Authors whose books are borrowed from the KOLL are awarded a piece of that $1.2 million. How big is that piece? It depends. It depends on how many times the book was borrowed and how many times all books were borrowed in the whole KOLL program that month. So let’s say there were 600,000 borrows in total for the last month, and your book was borrowed 10 times. The $1.2 million fund is divided by the 600,000 borrows, which translates into $2 per borrow. So if your book was borrowed 10 times, you would receive $20 in compensation from Amazon ($2 per borrow multiplied by 10 borrows).
If your book is priced at $2.99, this $2 per borrow is roughly equivalent to what you would receive from a normal purchase. If your book is priced at $9.99, however, $2 for a borrow is far less than what you would receive from a purchase (which would be roughly $6.99 on a $9.99 Kindle book). Does that mean that you are missing out on roughly $4 every time your book is borrowed? Possibly, but not necessarily. The people who borrow your book may have borrowed it only because they wouldn’t have been willing to pay the asking price. In other words, they wouldn’t have bought your book otherwise, and the $2 you received is $2 more than you would have gotten from no sale at all.
So should you enroll your book in KDP Select?
It depends. If you want your ebook to be in multiple digital bookstores, the answer is no, you should not enroll in KDP Select.
Because so many more ebooks are sold through Amazon’s bookstore than through other bookstores, I personally have no problem with publishing my ebooks exclusively with Amazon. It’s easier to just deal with Amazon. If I ever want to change that, I know that I can whenever the next 90-day period of Amazon exclusivity ends. (Books are automatically re-enrolled in KDP Select when the initial 90-period is over, by the way. You’ll need to manually withdraw your book from KDP Select.)
Moreover, I like the promotional benefits of KDP Select, namely the ability to give away books for free or promote them at a discounted price.
I personally enroll all my ebooks in KDP Select. You may not need or wish to do so. Just remember that either way, whether you choose to enroll or not, the decision is not final. You can always remove books from KDP Select or enroll them later on.
If you do want to enroll your book, check the “Enroll this book in KDP Select” box at the top of the “Add new title” page.