Amazon Exclusivity Deals: Who Wins?
It seems every week I receive a press release or read a news article about a new e-book exclusivity agreement an author has struck with Amazon. This week, it was best-selling science fiction author F. Paul Wilson.
According to the press release I received from Amazon, Wilson has made five of his books available in the Kindle Store exclusively for one year using Amazon's e-book self-publishing tool, Digital Text Platform.
A best-selling, award-winning author self-publishing? I'm assuming Wilson's publisher, Infrapress, doesn't offer e-books (although I don't know for sure), but this isn't always the case with well-known authors who publish e-books directly with Amazon. Stephen R. Covey grabbed headlines in December when he bypassed print publisher Simon & Schuster, which does publish e-books, to produce electronic versions of two of his titles. Covey made his books available exclusively to Amazon through e-book publisher RosettaBooks.
These exclusivity deals don't sit well with me, and not just because I don't own a Kindle. As an author, why limit your audience? New e-readers are being announced seemingly as frequently as Kindle exclusivity agreements. Because someone chose a Nook or a Sony Reader or a Cool-er (and the list goes on), they won't be able to read your book in the format they prefer?
From my personal experience, many people are excited about e-books and e-readers—if they have an e-reader, they want to extol its virtues to others; if they don't have one, they want to know all about them. But already they're getting frustrated with the roadblocks (e-book availability, pricing wars) that the industry keeps throwing up at them. I see these exclusivity deals as another one of these roadblocks.
Kindle is not the first and last word in e-readers. And just because you're pleasing a lot of people who are Kindle users—well, I'd be much more worried about the ones I'm not pleasing.
When the Covey-Amazon deal was announced, it was made clear that Covey would receive a much greater royalty than is typical in digital publishing agreements. I'd be impressed if the price tag of Covey's books in the Kindle Store wasn't just $7.99. And Wilson's books? A mere $2.99. So how much are they really pocketing?
Once again, it seems the winner is Amazon, which has found another way—exclusive content—to promote its Kindle products. But where does that leave publishers, authors and readers?