Amazon is a fantastic platform. Specifically, I am talking about the Kindle and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). As an independent writer I have not found a service or platform that outperforms Amazon or is better suited for readers and writers alike. That being said, there are a few things that I’d like to see added to take an already awesome platform to an even higher level.
Access to Library Distributions, Such as Self-e
To me, this is a big miss on Amazon’s part. If it is there, I haven’t found it yet. It doesn’t seem to be the case, however. One of the resources I was taught about while I was at the last writer’s event I participated in was Self-e, a digital ebook distribution network for libraries allowing anyone with a non-Kindle ereader (like a Nook or Kobo reader) to access a book for free, just as though they were checking out a book through a traditional library. The problem? Participating in it is a clear violation of the TOS in the Kindle Select program.
Of course if I didn’t want to be exclusive with Kindle and not participate in the Kindle Select program, then I would have every right to add my books to resources like Self-e and other digital library networks. Doing that would not allow me to take full advantage of what Amazon has to offer for those in the Select program… and that’s the point.
One of the programs that Amazon has is the Kindle Unlimited (KU) plan. Pay the fee and there are ridiculous amounts of books that are accessible for free. My books are available through that as well. And even better, we get some stipend from the number of page reads from those through who borrow our books via KU. As nice as that is, it isn’t the same as a Self-e or library network. Those who frequent libraries understand this distinction.
I am certain that Amazon, if they desired, would be able to work out some deal to allow its writers access to these programs with no damage to its bottom line, but that’s up to Amazon to decide. I’d just like to see it as another bonus to being a Select participant.
Promote and Advertise Options for Paperback
Just like with its Kindle books, it would be nice to have an option to put paperback copies published through KDP on sale such as with the Countdown Deals. It’s nice to be able to put my Kindle ebooks on discount with that price showing as a deal with the regular price showing still so that people see the deal. It doesn’t exist for the paperback copies right now.
Sure, the capability for me to adjust prices on paperbacks accordingly is there. Doing it in that manner is time consuming, not automatic, delayed, and any change made is shown as the regular price. There is no signal to there being a sale. Obviously I cannot mark down a print version of my book to free as I can with an ebook, but some level of discountable pricing would be fantastic.
This may be a feature that is forthcoming, but I haven’t seen news on it yet. It would be nice if and when it does.
I am certain that Amazon is working on this one. The problem in this case wasn’t if, it was when are they going to do it. Ever since they moved their print services from Createspace to KDP, this feature disappeared for writers. Amazon promised that they would get it fixed, it just is taking some time to get it done.
What this is is allowing authors to buy copies of their own books at cost or with a steep discount not ever available to the public. This is useful for us to purchase copies for promotion or to sell at events… without breaking our wallets to do so. Discounting a book to the lowest available costing point is the only option right now, but that isn’t even enough compared to the costing structure used by Createspace for this.
There is of course a small downside to buying books in this way: those copies I buy do not get tallied in with the sales figures on Amazon, meaning that if I buy 20 copies of one of my books, the sales rank won’t budge. A fair trade-off given the discounted price and since there is no indication if the book was just for promotion or not.
More than the prior two, this is the must-have. Given that Amazon says it plans to add it, the question really becomes when? When, Amazon? It should have already been done in my opinion.
If Amazon came and did all three of these things, it would secure them as the only choice to come to for indie writers. They already have the lead in this category and they don’t appear to be letting go of that standing any time in the future. It isn’t about just being the best. Amazon has operated on the principle of continuous improvement and these three things are in that vein. I am sure there are plenty of other things that would even top my suggestions, but these are what I am thinking about now. If they did them, us writers would be thankful for it.