The company has announced that in the first year, it expects to put $6 million into a fund that will be paid out to authors when their exclusive e-books are checked out of Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library. The authors will receive a share of the fund calculated by the proportion their books were borrowed compared to the number of borrows overall.
While this pays authors a fee for borrowed e-books, something they haven’t previously been compensated for before, it is unusual to not offer compensation to authors directly for their work. How much an author earns will depend on how much the other authors in the program earn, and the more J. Carson Black earns, the less J.A. Konrath will get.
The participating authors are all part of the Kindle Direct Publishing program. Mystery writers Black, Konrath, Gemma Halliday, and J.R. Rain; thriller writers C.J. Lyons and Scott Nicholson; romance novelists Julie Ortolon, Teresa Ragan and Patricia Ryan; and science fiction author B.V. Larson have signed on.
Amazon’s press release included several statements by authors lauding the program.
“My choice to participate in KDP Select and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library was easy,” said best-selling thriller writer Blake Crouch. “The Kindle Store is simply the best, most effective store in the world for selling independent e-books, and there is no greater champion for independent writers than Amazon.”
“I'm thrilled to be offering my e-books to Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library through KDP Select,” said Lyons, No. 1 best-selling Kindle author of “Borrowed Time.” “I look forward to reaching new readers who enjoy my style of ‘Thrillers with Heart.’”
“I chose to participate in KDP Select because it’s an innovative way to get my e-books in the hands of readers who are new to my work,” said best-selling historical mystery and romance writer Ryan. “If they like what they read, they’ll most likely put me on their to-buy list, and maybe even recommend me to their friends.”
“KDP Select and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library are a boon to readers and authors,” said Konrath, author of the best-selling Jack Daniels mystery series. “Reading e-books for free? Sign me up!”
“As a KDP author, I’m delighted to participate in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library through KDP Select,” said Larson, best-selling science fiction and fantasy author. “Amazon has again expanded the value of their Amazon Prime membership by including access to free e-books, and they have not forgotten their homegrown authors.”
“KDP Select is the best way I know to bring my Jake Lassiter series to a new generation of readers through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library,” said Paul Levine, best-selling mystery and thriller writer. “Once again, Amazon leads the way!”
These authors will be guinea pigs in Amazon’s new e-book experiment. While their e-books are being made available to readers for free in this lending program, they remain for sale at Amazon. Will their sales decline? Will the share of a pool of money make up for the difference? Why offer a pool of money instead of paying authors a set rate?
Perhaps some of that will be known soon. The program has begun, with a planned $500,000 available in the pool for December.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Image: Screen shot of Amazon's Kindle Lending Library.