Here’s what Mark Coker wrote,
- “From the time an author enrolls their book in the program, they cannot distribute or sell their book anywhere else. Not the Apple iBookstore, not Barnes & Noble, not Smashwords, not Kobo, not Sony, not even the author’s own personal blog or web site. The book must be 100% exclusive to Amazon.
- If the author violates Amazon’s exclusivity terms at any point during the three-month enrollment period, or if the author unpublishes their book to remove it from the program so they can distribute the book elsewhere, the author risks forfeited earnings, delayed payments, a lien on future earnings, or could face termination of their Kindle Direct Publishing account.
- The author’s enrollment, and thus their liability to Amazon, automatically renews every three months if they fail to opt out in time.
Let’s examine the broader implications of this new program, not only for authors but for the nascent ebook industry as well.”
Let’s take a look at this from the author’s point of view. Most of the people who visit this site are authors, we have a quite few readers (mostly reviewers), and occasionally, a traditional publishing type will drop by. The site is administered by an author among others.
The phrase that leaps out in Mark Coker’s statement, above, is ‘the nascent ebook industry’ - indeed. What does it look like?
“ Apple iBookstore, not Barnes & Noble, not Smashwords, not Kobo, not Sony, not even the author’s own personal blog or web site.”
Apple iBookstore – the only way the vast majority of indie’s can get into the iBookstore is through Smashwords, same for Kobo, who do not reply to emails sent to them at their request through their website. Sony… has any indie, ever, sold a book through Sony?
Cycle back to B&N, cool if you’re in the US, sort of. But if you’re not a US citizen, tough. Most indies run at about a 10o-1 ratio of books sold on Amazon versus on B&N. Please note the ‘most’, there are exceptions. Smashwords runs at about the same ratio to B&N as B&N runs to Amazon, 10o-1. But with all due respect to you Mark, what authors really want is to be able to deal with B&N directly. For international authors that is not an option, and how lame is that? Crippled and pathetic.
And it’s not that we do not appreciate what you have done. We do. More than a few indies are hanging out, not joining the Kindle Select program (despite the fact that quite a few indies are reporting really good sales because of it); not pulling out of Smashwords, and the resultant distribution. Why? Because we agree with you, but please, step up your game and stop whining about what Amazon is doing.
What about a Smashwords Non-exclusive Lending Program? – figure out how to do it…
What about better search algorithms and tags to make it easier for readers to find our books?
How about better ratings algorithms, so that books that have a lot of reviews at 4 star, rank higher than a book with two reviews at 5?
What about figuring out how to make it easier for a kindle,nook, or ipad reader to download our books?
What about getting rid of the awful meatgrinder and letting us upload either an epub or a file (here’s a clue. KDP converts epubs to their format when you upload. If you went straight epub, you could process more books, and authors would only have to produce one format)?
What about redesigning your site (dude, it looks tired)? Add things like “Movers and Shakers, and lists, (and get rid of the meatgrinder).
How about better support? If that’s out of budget then consider the below and asking for volunteers to support…
What about, um, Smashwords Forums? i.e. community…
Okay, those were a few off the cuff ideas that I’ve heard authors talking about. What do authors like about Smashwords?
- they love the coupon aspect of Smashwords
- they love the promotional knock on effect of setting the book to free on Smashwords (because it sells more books on Amazon. Yep. Truth can be painful.)
- they love the distribution (even though it may only sell less than 1-10% of what Amazon does)
- they love the choice of formats (but it only needs to be DRM Free and Epub)
What do Authors dislike about Smashwords?
- they hate the lags with reporting (but understand you can’t do much about that despite us being in a digital age).
- they hate the lag in readjusting prices, through the channels.
- the meatgrinder. We know to format for it – not a big deal. But in this day and age it is irrelevant. Readers can download a DRM free epub and do what they want with the file, to the specifications of their ereader – end of story. Anything else is just complicated.
Mark, I am pretty sure that most authors want you to succeed. We want Amazon to have strong competitors. We want more places to sell, and showcase our work.
Ultimately authors want readers who buy and read our books. At the moment, the nascent ebook industry (from most indie’s points of view) is 95% Amazon. That’s where readers find and buy our books. Whining is not competing.
Frida over at Adarna SF also blogged on this topic, lots of interesting comments.