Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why I'm Not a Hater of the Kindle Select Program

Exclusivity of product has always been used in retail. A manufacturer might like it to increase panache (or to limit the number of distributors it has to deal with, for an in-demand item). A retailer might like it because it means customers have to come to them and not the business down the street for that particular product.

A (sometimes) temporary exclusivity of format has been standard in publishing (at least for the past two decades, and a time delay between the release of two different formats is also normal.

Yep, I just used the n-word.

Granted, a lot in the world of publishing seems dysfunctional and completely contrary to good business sense to this chick who's been following publishing and agents for the past decade and scratching her head. (Then again, I did have a former coworker once tell me that I expected business to make sense—but I digress.)

Remember waiting six months or a year for that book you wanted to come out in paperback instead of hardback? (Assuming that it came out in paperback.) Remember waiting for the e-book version to come out for that novel you wanted to read, while praying that the e-book would be in a file format you could actually use—assuming an e-book came out at all?

Do you remember?

*taps fingers on her desk, waiting for answer*

(Come on, folks. I surely can't be the only one who remembers this.)

The problem, as I see it, is how a lot of self-published authors are treating Kindle Select. They cheerfully take their books down from retailers where they "hardly sell," no warning to fans. Effectually giving those users of non-Kindles the finger.

Personally, I was a bit irritated because I just got a NOOK Touch. I'd just discovered (by word of mouth) that I'd probably like a particular person's books, and she went and took them off Smashwords before I could buy them. Fortunately for her, we're both somewhat active members on the same online forum, so I'll have plenty of exposure to her signature to remind me that I was interested in her books, once (if?) she removes the exclusivity.

But that's the method of the exclusivity that irritated me, not the exclusivity itself.

If an author handles exclusivity properly—announcing it, making it temporary, and presenting it that way (Hey, you can get my book on Kindle right now for X price, and after Y date, you'll be able to find it on Smashwords and other retailers)—then it's just a matter of focusing on one element at a time. Even my own stories are exclusively in e-format at this time, not print. (Extended illness and an MRI sorta sucked up all my funds, last year—emergency fund, computer fund, savings… No, that's not a whine. I'm just pointing out that life happens to all of us.)

Kindle Select actually has a lot to recommend it. It's a temporary program, only 90 days of exclusivity. Sure, there's "automatic re-enrollment," but you can easily disable that the very day you sign up. Easily set 5 days of your choice free with a handy little calendar. Each enrolled book that's borrowed gets a piece of the borrowing fund.

I can actually see myself using this program, in the future—for a single 90-day stint, for a new title that you readers aren't waiting on.

Yes, I use a NOOK. Yes, I'd be irritated if I were waiting on a book in the format I'd bought the prequel in, and it weren't available. What am I thinking?

I'm thinking that I will not place the 4 Chronicles of Marsdenfel stories in any e-retailer exclusivity program. Nor will do so for at least the next two books in the Destiny Walker series. (There's a reason that I'm placing a caveat on two, the reasons for which will be made clear as I write the series.)

But I'm also thinking that if my Kindle readers get temporarily exclusive content, I'd like to have other temporarily exclusive content available to my other readers.

After all, fair's fair. :)

Do you think the Kindle Select Program's exclusivity clause compares to the wait for alternate forms of traditionally published books being available? Why or why not?

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