Awhile ago I decided to buy an e-reader. I figured if, one day, I end up self-publishing, I should know what is out there and how others do it. So, I did some research and I ended up buying a Nook instead of a Kindle. Here are some reasons why:
– It was cheaper.
– The cheapest version of the Nook seemed to be better than the cheapest version of the Kindle (I don’t remember my reasoning at the moment).
– But the number one reasons why I decided to buy a Nook over a Kindle was because I felt the Nook catered more towards the self-published author and Barnes and Noble were less interested in controlling the market like Amazon.
Let me explain. The Nook supports e-pub files. I don’t know if the Kindle supports these files, but I don’t think so. This file is the format that is not associated with any particular apparatus or company. It is the generic file. This means that the Nook supports platforms such as Project Gutenberg and Smashwords. If you are not already aware of Smashwords, you should check it out – it is awesome. And, it is the e-publishing platform that provides authors with the largest royalties and control over pricing. Of course, Smashwords’ audience is much smaller than Amazon, but publishing on Smashwords means your book is distributed to and can be read on a number of different readers, not just the Kindle.
Secondly,as much as I love Amazon, I really do not want them to rule the world, which is the direction they are headed. You can practically buy anything you can think of from Amazon these days. Don’t feel like grocery shopping? Don’t want to pop over to the hardware store? Need some toiletries but don’t want to change out of your pajamas to go to the drug store? Buy from Amazon and they will deliver right to your door! You don’t ever have to leave your house!
I really, really, really dislike the way Amazon is trying to establish itself as the sole provider of e-publications. This is evident in the fact that the e-books you buy off Amazon can only be read on the Kindle (I know, this isn’t exactly a novel tactic, but nevertheless) and in their policy of exclusivity for certain programs:
“1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or a book that is substantially similar), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.” (Under “Terms and Conditions” for KDP Select)
I am not really sure what KDP Select is or what benefits it provides; all I know is that this policy limits distribution rights for authors and attempts to monopolize the e-book market. I don’t like it. I know it isn’t exactly the same thing, but we all saw what happened when Borders got greedy and tried to move in on as many markets as they could. Now I have to drive 12 miles to the nearest bookstore (which in my area can take upwards of 30 minutes depending on the time of day), because the box-stores ate up the smaller businesses and now the only bookstore in my area is Barnes and Nobles.
Granted I am a complete noob when it comes to the publishing world, but it seems like this type of exclusivity defeats part of the reason for self-publishing in the first place. I mean, when you sign your book over to a publisher, that it a type of exclusivity. It means you are putting your book and its future into the hands of the publisher. The benefits, however, are numerous. In exchange for giving them sole rights to publish and distribute your book, they take on all the work of that distribution, they help market your book, and I’m sure there are numerous other reasons. When a book sells you both make money, so it behooves the publisher to help you sell your book. I get the reason for exclusivity under this model.
However, if you are doing all the editing, formatting and marketing yourself, why would you turn over exclusive rights to a distributor? Maybe the KDP Select works in similar ways to a publisher. Marketing, for example. And you would still earn more royalties per book self-publishing through Amazon than you would through a traditional publisher. But, speaking from ignorance, if I ever self-publish, I want to maintain as much control as I can.
Exclusivity with a traditional publisher still means your book would be available in all possible places and formats. A publisher is not going to only sell your books at one bookstore in the country. They want to make the book as accessible to potential readers as possible. When you sign over exclusive rights to Amazon, it means you are immediately alienating a large pool of potential customers. It would have been like only selling your book at Borders, but not Barnes and Noble, which seems ridiculous.
Which leads me to the point of my rant. I cannot tell you how many times I have run across a book that sounds interesting enough that I would be willing to pay to download it to my e-reader (paying upwards of $15 for a traditionally published book I know little about does not seem like a big deal, but paying $2.99 for an independently published book I know little about is hard for me to do – but that is a whole other conversation). Twice in the past couple of days I got really excited about a book only to find out it is only available through Amazon. Yeah, I could buy it and read it on my computer through their Kindle PC, but I am not going to do that, especially if I am paying for the book. I hate doing that. I cannot be the only one with a Nook or a Kobe or a Sony reader who runs into this problem.
Why don’t self-published authors offer their books on multiple platforms!? Are the benefits of exclusivity through Amazon really that good? Are they making more money that way? Is it because they don’t do research on other methods and just assume Amazon is the way to go?
I don’t know, but it is pissing me off! I want to read their books, too! But I refuse to contribute to Amazon’s world domination in order to do it.
/rant – Thanks for listening.
EDIT: I noticed how long this post is and cringed a little, but when I hit the publish button, this is the quote wordpress provided me with:
I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
~ Blaise Pascal
So, there you have it: I made this post longer, because I did not have the time to make it shorter. (Wow, I can be SO long-winded!)