03 September 2012

Exclusivity: An Author's Arrogance

I've been noticing a trend throughout the Internet that I wanted to ramble about today...it has to do with establishing exclusivity for one's books with particular online retailers. In this case, it's the big boy on the block, Amazon.

Now, exclusivity isn't always a bad thing. Perhaps it's doing quite well for you as an author (though it hasn't seemed all that great to me, but that's another blog post I'm planning for the future).

The trouble is when you, as an author, began to exhibit signs of arrogance when it comes to your titles being exclusive, and this is the trend I've been seeing. One particular celebrity I follow on Twitter (and who, ironically enough, gave a blog review to one of my books in the far distant past) is notorious for this with his two e-book titles. I constantly see him tweeting responses to fans. They ask him if his books are available anywhere besides Amazon, and he just keeps telling them that there's a free Kindle app...get that and read the books.

Now, I don't have a business degree...but I always thought that the "customer is always right" (some examples not withstanding). If I, as someone who is trying to sell books to readers (the customer) continue to get requests for the book to be available at all of these other retail outlets, I'd think that it would behoove me greatly to start putting it up there. It's not all that difficult to do with sites like Smashwords, and apparently, there would be a ready-made market for the books on these other sites.

I personally would like to read these two titles from this celebrity, but I own a Nook. Certainly, I can get the free Kindle App on my netbook, but the entire point behind an e-reader is the convenience of downloading the book and reading it on the device. Why would I want to circumvent the device I already own, when the author could just as easily upload the book to the other stores?

Now, I did upload my latest Triple-Shot as an Amazon exclusive (through the KDP Select program), as a test to see if it made any difference in the amount of downloads I received from readers. Though I do plan a follow-up post later on the statistics involved, my personal experience has not been positive. So, come October 16, my book will be sent off to the other online stores for consumption...

And who knows? Perhaps with a celebrity, the money was just too good to pass up the exclusivity...but myself, I don't see how alienating your potential readers makes good business sense.


  1. Agreed!

    Dean W. Smith talks quite a bit at his blog about this. It's not thinking like a publisher. It's leaving money on the table.

    I'm at the Kindleboards a few times a day. I've noticed there's fewer voices singing the praises of Select than there were early in the year. Free days and exclusivity aren't leading to the sales that they had been when Select started.

    I'm not selling much, but I'm glad my books are in so many channels. At least I have a chance to get a few sales here and there, and my success isn't tied to one retailer.


  2. My current publisher uploads to various digital sellers, and I intend to do the same with my self-published works. As a newbie to publishing, I don't see any benefit in just using Amazon - seems to me the more places your work is available and the more formats it's in, the better. I have a Kindle myself, but hubs has a Kobo, and various friends have Nooks, Sony ereaders and iPads. I'd have to be offered one heck of a deal to stuck with a single vendor.

  3. I do have friends who swear that exclusivity was the best choice for them, since the majority of their sales were from Amazon anyway...but like you mentioned, Robert, that's just leaving money on the table.

    I'm probably giving away everything I was going to mention in my follow-on post, but I sell far more copies of some books (such as The Cure) via places like B&N and Kobo than I ever have with Amazon...and frankly, I've not seen the bump-up in sales post-free-giveaway to make me think it's worthwhile.

    Granted, I do think the giveaway days have been useful as far as a means to get people to read copies, but at the expense of sales elsewhere?

  4. Good point. I have been hesitant to try KDP select, and I think I probably won't. I'll be interested to see your numbers.

  5. I'll probably be putting something together in the next week or two. Stay tuned! :-)


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