Saturday, January 14, 2012
Is Amazon Buying an E-Book-Selling Monopoly?
Look at the numbers. If I recall correctly, Amazon placed something like $700,000 into the pot for January 2012 payments to "borrowed authors." Let's assume that 350,000 books are borrowed during the month - that means that Amazon will pay the author $2 each time one of his books is downloaded by an eligible Kindle owner. If your book is borrowed 500 times, you score $1,000. In the meantime, the book is still for sale in the Kindle Bookstore at whatever margin you have created for yourself there. It's a sweet deal for independent publishers and writers. Interested parties can get the details (and check my understanding of the process) here.
According to Amazon, the Top Ten KDP Select authors earned over $70,000 between them in December 2011. Amazon also points to what seems a counterintuitive increase in sales for the most borrowed titles, creating a win-win situation for the authors in the program.
A question I haven't seen addressed anywhere yet is how all of this will impact traditional publishers, bookstores, and libraries. Is this another nail in the coffin for the old way? Should we worry about the long term effect on print publishing, or is this something that will have little impact on print books? I suspect that it will impact bookstores more seriously than it will publishers, at least in the short term.
Seriously, is Amazon approaching monopoly status with writers who are likely to be reluctant to reclaim Amazon's exclusive rights to their work as long as the checks keep rolling in? You tell me.