Amazon Juices Kindle Lending Library Payout for KDP Select Authors

amazonBy Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Due to strong borrowing by Kindle Prime subscribers in December, Amazon has increased its monthly bonus pool for KDP Select authors in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library to $700,000 from $500,000.

In a statement, Amazon said that Kindle owners borrowed 295,000 KDP Select titles in December and that Amazon paid the authors whose titles were borrowed $1.70 for each borrow that month. Amazon added that in December, paid sales growth outside of the lending library for KDP Select titles outpaced those of KDP titles that are not in the Select program, which guarantees that the books will only be sold on Amazon for a set period.

“KDP Select appears to be earning authors more money in two ways…. Paid sales…increased, even relative to the rest of KDP,” said Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content in the statement. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

In December, Amazon set up a $6 million royalty fund designed to encourage authors to participate in its “Select” program, which would make their work available for sale only on Amazon for a 90-day period and would automatically include the titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The $6 million is split into 12 $500,000 pots, one for every month, and divided equally between authors for each of their titles that is borrowed in the lending library. Authors whose books are borrowed more often would capture more of the KDP Select bonus money.

Amazon said that it now has 75,000 titles in its lending library, up from around 5,000 when the program was announced in November. The lending library program allows Amazon Prime subscribers to borrow up to one book a month at a time from a selection of titles. Prime also gives Amazon customers free two-day shipping on items sold by Amazon and access to a library of video and audio content; it costs about $80 a year to participate.

When the lending library was announced, the reaction from the book publishing community was mixed. Some publishers, like F+W Media, which owns and operates Digital Book World, came out in support of the initiative, citing it as another revenue stream and a new way for books to be discovered. Other publishers and some authors and agents were against it, saying that some of the titles in the library were included without publisher or author consent and that it violated authors’ contracts with publishers.

In December the top ten KDP Select authors netted over $70,000, Amazon said in its statement. The release goes on to interview several authors who reaped the biggest rewards from the program.

Carolyn McCray, a paranormal romance writer and e-book sales expert (who, full disclosure, has written for Digital Book World), earned $8,250 in December from the KDP Select fund and said that participation in the fund has “quadrupled” her royalties. Other participating authors echoed her success story in the press release, which can be found here.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

Hear Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti speak about Amazon, Kindle and the future of book publishing at the Digital Book World Conference + Expo in New York City from January 23 to 25.

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