Today I ditched a long time partner, Smashwords. I feel really, really bad. I remember clearly the day I found the site and realized I could use this one excellent site for distributing my eBook on multiple platforms: iBooks, Nook, Diesel, Kobo, Sony, etc. I loved the way I could generate free download coupons for my eBook. I raved about Smashwords on this blog. Between Smashwords and Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), I had my eBook publishing bases covered.
As of today, I am using Amazon KDP exclusively to distribute my eBook, Counting from Zero.
Why? Because of the terms of the new KDP Select program Amazon launched today. In exchange for forsaking Smashwords (and all others), my eBook will be a part of Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, a brand new part of their Prime service. Users of this service get to “borrow” one eBook per month for free. Authors and publishers get no royalty, but instead will split a slush fund from Amazon based on their books share of lending. How much will this be? No one knows – it depends on the degree to which users adopt this new model. There is also the opportunity to offer my eBook for free promotions, as well.
Why did I decide to participate? Well, the financial calculation was trivial. As the pie chart shows, 88% of my sales have been eBooks on KDP, with 7% paperbacks (on Amazon and B&N), and just 5% eBooks through Smashwords. To give up those 5% sales to add a new distribution channel is an easy calculation. Also, I just love being able to participate in the disruption of the publishing industry, and it will be a very interesting ride the next few months to see if this takes off.
Despite the title of this blog (apologies to Dr. Strangelove), I do still worry about Amazon. Their power in the publishing industry is growing exponentially. If the Kindle Fire takes off and lending as well, it will give Amazon even more leverage. I really, really don’t like the exclusive requirement for Kindle Select. It feels awful to say goodbye to Smashwords, a site that has been extremely useful to me this year.
So, here it is – it will be interesting to see how it goes!