Amazon Now Recruiting Self-Pub Authors for Kindle Prime Ebooks

Amazon launched a free ebook lending program for Kindle owners just over a month ago. It had a limited supply of ebooks as well as some involuntary participants. But what it didn’t have was a way for the self-published and small publishers to submit their ebooks. Today that has changed.

Update: The press release is now out so I have added an addendum to the end of this post.

There’s a new page up on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing site. Amazon is now asking authors to submit their titles so they can be lent to Prime members. Amazon calls the program KDP Select. At first glance it looks like it’s there to provide ebooks for the “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library”, but there’s more to it than that.

BTW, “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library” is actually part of the Amazon Prime Membership.  If you have an Amazon Prime account and you own a Kindle, you have the option of borrowing 1 free ebook a month at no charge and with no need to return it. That’s pretty good for customer, but what’s in for the authors?

Amazon has set aside half a million dollars to pay KDP authors to agree to lend their ebooks. And that’s just for December; Amazon also plans to allocate 6 million to pay authors during 2012.Author’s will get 1 share for each time one of their ebooks are borrowed. The half million will be divided among all participants equally based on the number of shares.

But I wouldn’t jump into this too quickly; there’s a catch. Authors have to agree to give Amazon an exclusive on any ebook in KDP Select, and that means they cannot sell it in other ebookstores. I don’t know about you, but that would kill any interest I had.

I’m a little surprised at that condition, but I’m also surprised that it was leaked a few weeks back and Amazon used it anyway. Yes, the terms of the KDP Select program leaked a few weeks back.  I didn’t post the leak at the time because I didn’t believe it; the terms were simply too bad for authors. I had thought that the rumor had details wrong, but today’s news confirms the entire leak.

Let’s think about this for a second. Amazon expects authors to give up the rest of the ebook market in exchange for the potential of getting a tiny fractional share of half a million dollars. I don’t even need to do the math to know that the average author gets the short end of that deal; it’s pretty obvious.

But this might actually benefit some authors; it depends on where they get most of their ebook sales. If they already sell mainly via Amazon then they won’t be missing much.

I have to say that this is a disappointing departure from Amazon’s past offers. In the past Amazon usually promised authors some valuable enticement to get authors to participate. For example, authors can price ebooks the way Amazon wants and get a larger share of the selling price. Or they’ll offer big name authors a unnamed but hefty bonus to sell exclusively with Amazon. But there’s really not much to say about today’s deal besides Yech.

Update:  The program was officially announced within minutes of publishing this post. Amazon already has a number of authors signed up, including “31 of the top 50 KDP author.”  These authors include J. Carson Black, Gemma Halliday, J.A. Konrath, B.V. Larson, C.J. Lyons, Scott Nicholson, Julie Ortolon, Theresa Ragan, J.R. Rain and Patricia Ryan. I wish I new the terms these authors got from Amazon; they have to be better than the public ones or the deal makes little sense.

via Amazon

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Robert Nagle9 December, 2011

    I actually considered submitting one ebook of an author I represent for this lending library. I think the exposure would be beneficial — plus, the lending library is still relatively small, so it probably would be more visible than other ebooks in that category. About the exclusivity, well, that doesn’t bother me so much because I can always back out of it. (By the way, I ended up NOT doing it because I have only one ebook by that author, with several on its way. If I had several already published, I wouldn’t have a problem with trying the lending library out).

    Here’s my problem with the lending library (other than the likely chance that the royalties will be meager). There’s no way to browse through lending library titles until you first become a Prime member. That strikes me as ridiculous.

  2. […] been watching the fallout ever since Amazon announced the KDP Select program yesterday morning, and the response has not been what I […]

  3. Vadlamudi Hanumantharao10 December, 2011

    My three books-LOVESTORY OF KINNERA, THE DESTINY OF GURU, BEYOND THE HORIZON were published in india.
    I want to now to publish on kindle.
    pl let me know.

  4. Robert Nagle10 December, 2011

    No, I cannot see any results, probably because I do not belong to Amazon Prime yet. One other very useful thing is that if you join this deal that lets you price your ebook for free several days every 3 days.

  5. […] owners aren’t borrowing as many free ebooks as I expected.Late last year Amazon launched KDP Select, a new program open to Kindle owning Prime members. Kindle owners could suddenly borrow one of a […]


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