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Exclusive or not?

I’ve read two posts in recent days about pros and cons of selling books exclusively on Amazon. In the first, Hugh Howey leans towards exclusivity. His books move well through Kindle Unlimited, and even though he earns a little less per book there, the sales on other venues aren’t enough to compensate the loss of those loans, should he take his books out of KU. Another post took a view that it’s bad for competition to have only one major operator in e-book business, and so one shouldn’t limit the sales to Amazon. Both views have their merits.

Not all of us have a choice, though. For many self-published authors, Kindle Unlimited has meant an almost complete stop of sales, and the loans haven’t compensated the loss. On top of dwindling borrows, the compensation per borrow has gone down. But books don’t really sell well on other platforms either, so for those currently exclusively on Amazon, the idea of taking the books off KU to sell them elsewhere seems like too much of a gamble. Because if even a bestseller like Hugh Howey can’t sell his books well on other platforms, what chance the rest of us have? And he probably sells more than most of us combined there, just not enough.

Some have probably already left KU, despite the meagre options. So Amazon is trying to make KU more attractive. They introduced a bonus system last week, which rewards authors whose books are borrowed the most. But it’s only for a couple of hundred people each month, of thousands of authors, even if they aren’t the same people month after month. It isn’t an incentive for most of us to stay.

I haven’t seen any statistics about how many people have left KU – or how many are considering it but stay, because the option is a complete loss of sales. So, basically, we’re stuck. Exclusivity isn’t a choice for all of us; it’s the only option.


  1. Hmm, I think I may have read the same pieces of you. I'm in a quandary; I'm not selling amazing on Amazon or other platforms. So, would moving towards Amazon exclusivity boost sales and readership? I'm not sure and, currently, the work to remove everything from other platforms is too great. However, I AM wondering whether I might make my next release exclusive and compare the figures.

    1. At the moment, borrows can go either way, I think. You might do well in KU, or not. Trying it out with one book is a good idea, especially since it's such a lot of work to remove your books elsewhere. The only book of mine with borrows is the first in the series, so you could try with that too.

  2. As a reader, KU changed my reading habits a bit. I decided to stick with the program (paying the 9.99), but have gone to a mix of buying books and reading borrows. I'm willing to download anything that strikes my fancy with KU...and I'm a bit more discriminating when I spend my money.

    I think this is a great opportunity for popular authors (Amazon's bonus is enticing). But I also think unknown authors can really get a boost and build audience. As usual, I think the midlist authors...the one's with decent sales, but nothing great might struggle under this program.

    1. That's how I would behave too, as a reader. Which is why self-pub authors have seen the sales dwindle. Problem is, the books that used to sell aren't now being borrowed as much. Or maybe they're being downloaded and then forgotten. And if the book isn't read past the 10%, the author doesn't get paid.


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