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Monday, November 14, 2011

Lending, Shmending--My take on the Amazon hooplah

It's been almost 2 weeks since Amazon unveiled its new Kindle Lending Library, and from the uproar among authors, you'd think they've already got plans to Occupy Amazon.

So, let me (briefly) recap what Amazon offers:

Anybody with a Kindle can lend their books to friends, but only for 14 days max. Not new. At least for several years. And I honestly have no problem with this feature. The cool thing about Kindles (from an author’s angle) is that Kindle owners can’t make a copy of a book file and send it out 557 times to whoever they want, or upload it to some file-sharing site. It’s between their Kindle and Amazon. Period. (and of course, that friend who can temporarily borrow it) Do I have a problem with a reader sharing the story she loves with another reader, thus doing my publicity for me, and spreading my fan base? Never. At least with Amazon, it’s a limited thing... PDFs, notsomuch.

Now, if you have Amazon Prime ($79 per year), you can A)watch movies/TV streaming B)Get free 2-day shipping all year on all purchases and 3)Borrow (for yourself) 1 book per month, like a library book. Amazon has “over 100,000 bestselling titles” available for this.

Now this is what's causing authors to twitch. My thoughts on the matter?

  • Yayy Amazon! I’ma get me a Kindle. (LOL) And one for dear daughter, too.
  • People can already check out damn near all books via ebook from their libraries anyway (and if your local library doesn’t have them or doesn’t have many, try your state library system, like for me the Denver Public library gives out cards to anybody with a Colorado license, and I can get ebooks there). And true, we authors do get a tiny stipend back from OverDrive when somebody checks out our book from the library, but...
  •  Hello? 100,000 bestsellers. Uh, yeah. I’ve never been in the top 100,000 on Amazon. (well, maybe once, but that was when I was buying copies of my books for a convention) They sell upward of 5 gajillion books. So the people who you’d think might possibly feel the crunch from lost sales because of this (best selling authors) most likely sell enough books that they will not, in fact, feel the crunch.
  • If by some chance my book ends up in the Amazon lending library and some lady wants to read it, I am SO for it. I’m betting she’ll like it, and tell other people she liked it, which means they might, in turn, buy it (and that reader who borrowed it just might write me a good review---which I am forever salivating for).
  • I’m betting most Kindle owners who opt into the program will use it to buy those pricey bestsellers (you know, the ones Big 6 pubs have decided to put astronomical prices on?) rather than waste their 1-per-month on a $5.50 or less title from Lyrical Press. Kindle owners are comprised mainly of voracious readers who see from the outset that they’ll save money on books in the longrun, because they buy so dang many.
  • And the bottom line is: Amazon did it because Amazon can. Our other option includes (and is limited to) NOT selling our books there, which—as somebody who has been published with other houses which did not sell my books through Amazon, I can attest to—is virtually shooting yourself in the foot, sales-wise. Amazon has been, and continues to be, our top-selling vendor, most of the time selling as many books as all our other vendors combined.
    Like it or lump it, but move on, already. If it was 30 years ago and your book was only available in print, readers could buy that hardback, read it, then lend it out to 20 of their closest friends and finally sell it on the yard sale for a quarter. That--and libraries--would've been your best means of spreading the word and growing a fanbase. And guess how many times you'd have earned a royalty? So get over yourself and get back to NaNoWriMo, already.

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy. Whining? Not so much.

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