MONDAY OPINION. Guest Post by Mark Coker. For more of Mark's thoughts on the dangers of exclusivity and importance of distribution to all retailers, see his free ebook, SECRETS TO EBOOK PUBLISHING SUCCESS.
Every indie should get their books distributed to as many retailers as possible. Every author should be at Amazon, but they should avoid the temptation to enroll in the KDP Select program because of its exclusivity requirements.
From a global market share perspective (and this is a global market!), Amazon's share is declining over the last few years. Authors who go exclusive – even if only for three months at a time – are harming their ability to capture this global growth.
The other retailers are rising in importance. Keep an eye on the Apple iBookstore (already in 32 countries), Barnes & Noble (rumored to be going global soon) and Kobo (has always had a global focus).
Smashwords-distributed authors have seen impressive growth at these three retailers over the last 12 months, especially at Apple. Apple's the dark horse in this race, and probably the biggest single threat to Amazon's dominance.
Amazon is playing indie authors like pawns in its greater battle to harm other ebook retailers by getting authors to make their books exclusive to Amazon. Unlike Amazon, Apple doesn't attempt exclusivity, and doesn't do draconian price matching. Amazon's the only retailer that threatens its authors with account termination if they don't obey Amazon's strict price-parity requirements.
I've got mad respect for Amazon, and I personally like every Amazon staffer and executive I've met, but I don't approve of their policies and have told them so. I'm surprised more indies don't push back.
Part of the challenge, I think, is that ever since Amazon launched KDP Select, they make your KDP account's configuration look incomplete *unless* you enroll in KDP Select. I've heard from many authors who say they enrolled accidentally.
Shortly after Amazon opened up India, they made the 70% royalty rate contingent upon the author enrolling the book in KDP Select. Not a good sign that they continue to flex their exclusivity muscle.
If KDP Select dropped the exclusivity requirement, I'd be a big supporter of the program. The exclusivity piece is completely unnecessary, and only causes long term harm to authors and Amazon's competitors.
If indies agree that a healthy, vibrant global ecosystem of many many ebook retailers is in the best interest of authors, readers and the future of books, then indies should think twice before succumbing to exclusivity. Support all your retailers.
When you tell your fans where they can purchase your books, provide direct links to all your retail outlets.