I’ve just published my latest book:
and I’d really prefer that my readers not buy it.
Oh, it’s not that I’m not proud of it: I am. I’ve been collecting quotations off and on for decades, and I’ve put a lot of work into this. I spent some time meticulously linking authors, sources, and characters, really bringing this into the digital age.
The thing is that I’ll make more money if they borrow it than if they buy it…a lot more.
Here’s how that works:
I’ve priced the book at ninety-nine cents, which means at Amazon that I can get thirty-five cents (roughly) per copy purchased. You can’t hit the higher 70% royalty tier unless your book is listed for at least $2.99 (and no more than $9.99).
However, the book is also part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).
With the KOLL, we all split a pool of money based on the number of “borrows” a title gets in a month, regardless of the list price.
The pool has been running at $600,000 per month and each borrow has been getting us a bit over two dollars.
So, if one of my readers buys the book, I get about thirty-five cents. If that same reader had borrowed the book from the KOLL, I get over two dollars. I’d have to sell more than five copies to get to the same “royalty” (or pool pay) as a single borrow.
That’s part of the nouveau economics of e-books.
You get into all of these strange, unprecedented calculations. Not everyone can borrow a book from the KOLL; you need to be a qualifying Prime member, and you have to have a hardware Kindle (not just a free reading app). Obviously, I don’t want to discourage those people from buying it.
There’s also the issue of giving it as a gift. I think that’s going to be a big part of the market for this title…little ninety-nine cent gifts at the holidays, and possibly, people who are quoted in it giving it to friends, relatives, co-workers, and so on. At this point, you can’t gift a borrow.
Oh, and do borrows affect a book’s bestseller rank? I don’t actually know. The bestseller list is a big part of discoverability…do I lose potential borrows if other borrows don’t count as sales, and therefore people who sort by bestselling don’t see it?
Those are the sorts of things you should be thinking about if you are a publisher, not just an author. If you make your books available for sale to the public, you are a publisher.
You can see why some established authors would elect to go with a traditional publisher, rather than publish independently…they’ve probably been in meetings with their agents where they tried to explain all these obscure data points. “Wait…why am I going to a book signing event in Des Moines, and not one in New York?” “Trust me…that’s what the numbers say.”
What about you, WG2Ers? Have you ever found yourself wishing that someone had borrowed a book, rather than bought it?
Giveaway: I’m going to gift a copy of The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations to the first five people who comment on this post and request it. Do not include any contact information in your comment: I can see your e-mail address in the non-published part of the comment. I will not use that e-mail address for anything except to send you your free copy. Of course, if you’d rather borrow it from the KOLL…
Recent posts in the I Love My Kindle blog which may be of particular interest to WG2E readers:
- Can a popular book be a good book?
- Retreating advances
- Snapshot: October 1 2012
- ALA & AAP: the relationship between public libraries and publishers
- It’s the Things That I Think That They Mean (a poem)
Bufo Calvin is the author of the popular I Love My Kindle blog and several titles in the Kindle store, including the #1 bestseller Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet. Bufo is proud to be a part of the WG2E family.