Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
In many ways, KDP Select has been the salvation of many titles. Between the revenue from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) and the ability to control “Free” promotions, KDP Select has raised those participating titles’ royalties by 26 percent.
As one of the top-ten authors in KOLL during December, I can speak fluently on how the program helped me.
However, what impact has KDP Select had on the rest of the Amazon eBook sales platform?
The reality is that, overall, KDP Select has decreased the average price point across the sales platform.
KDP Select’s impact is widespread. While I do not have insider information, I do monitor about 100 books on a nearly daily basis and have identified numerous factors for this decreased price point.
#1 – The program has created a glut of not just free books, but higher-quality free books. All of those authors who were not willing to “force” free are now hurrying to join the “free” rush. The selection of quality free books has risen astronomically.
#2 – After a free run, your title gets the most “bang” for its free ride by coming into paid status at 99 cents. This has created a new, huge pool of quality 99-cent titles.
#3 – The KDP Select rollout occurred during the same window as the Christmas season; therefore, all of those new Kindle owners see the large free and 99-cent pool as normal. Unlike last year, when the flood of new Kindle owners entered the buying market at the $2.99 or above price point, this year they are bargain-shopping at 99 cents more than ever.
#4 – KOLL is diverting purchases into lends. Again, I do not have the internal statistics from Amazon; however, it appears that people are taking their lends very seriously (as they only get one per month) and browsing far more in the library than they are out on the sales platform.
#5 – Since the KDP Select authors are now exclusive to Amazon, all of their promotional efforts are focused on the Amazon platform. Since KDP Select is an indie pool of participants, the average price point is much lower than the traditional houses’ titles.
#6 – Ironically, the overall lower price point is forcing higher priced titles to price pulse down to $2.99 or 99 cents to maintain rankings—sustaining the lower price point.
Where is the math behind these assumptions?
Let’s look at the Top 20 Paid Kindle titles. At the time of this writing, out of the top twenty titles (those usually selling tens of thousands of units per day) seven were priced below $5.00, and six were priced under $2.99.
Nearly a third of the Top 20 Paid Kindle titles were under $2.99.
Now let’s look at the Top 100 Paid Kindle Titles. A whopping 50—count them, 50—titles were $5.00 or less. A full 42 were $3.99 or less, and 38 were $2.99 or less.
If ever you needed proof that the price point has lowered, there it is.
Now, before the indie-bashing gets started (you know, “indies are ruining publishing,” “indies have ruined it for us all,” “let’s get our pitchforks and torches and burn down the indies’ castle”), let’s remember that this price point has decreased because of consumer spending.
Consumers have clearly gotten over (if they truly ever did have ANY aversion to the 99-cent price tag) whatever qualms they may have had regarding 99-cent titles.
It turns out that they like them. A lot.
Why is this important to understand? Because, in a low-price environment, the successful authors/houses will focus on product. Getting it out as quickly as possible. Building up backlists as rapidly as is feasible.
Not turning out hack products, but simply accelerating their publishing time line.
It’s simple math. If you are selling for a lower price, you must sell more units.
So you can yell and raise your fists to the heavens about the unfairness of it all, or you can get to writing and publishing.
I recommend option two.
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