KDP Select – Only for the Select Few

Newsworthy notes

Today I’m going to share some information about Amazon’s KDP Kindlecountdown program. It wasn’t too long ago I wrote an article about how Createspace is holding my paperback royalties ransom until I satisfy their $100 threshold earned in royalties. As it stands, I’m still about two books short before reaching that threshold. But that’s another kettle of fish, today’s gripe is about the Select program.

I became aware today about how the countdown promo is fashioned. I’m not sure how many of you are aware that when authors put their books in the countdown program, the promotion is only available for U.S. and U.K. citizens. I remember when I ran my book Conflicted Hearts on that promo that I had no evidence of it being on sale, not showing up for me even when I went to Amazon.com. I questioned Amazon and all that I was told that it was on sale, and they sent me a screenshot to prove it, yet it didn’t look like it was, looking at it from my computer. I wasn’t fully aware of all the details of that promo because I foolishly didn’t read all it entailed.

Today I noticed a book on that promo by an author whose writing I admire, and a book of hers which I was watching to come on sale to purchase. I saw her post on Twitter that it was currently on promo at .99 cents and I went to purchase it, only to find that on my Amazon page it was still at regular price. I messaged the author and asked if the sale price was ‘live’ yet because it wasn’t showing and she assured me that it was. The price was not on sale for me. When we both realized that the promo was only valid in the U.S and U.K., she was kind enough to ‘gift’ me a copy for my interest through an Amazon gift certificate for her book. When I went to download it, it wouldn’t download. A message came up saying ‘We’re sorry, there’s a problem, please call . . . .”

I called Amazon and wasted almost forty minutes getting put on hold and passed around, only to finally be put on to a technician. He informed me that he was sorry for all the delay and confusion but I was not allowed to have that book at that price even if the author gifted it to me. I was livid. I ranted on about the injustice of unfair pricing and added that I would be writing about it.

I messaged the author and told her what transpired and thanked her for her attempt to gift me the book and we both agreed that this situation is not correct, particularly that we all live in the same internet world.

What ticks me off most about this is that I, as a Canadian author publishing in the U.S., can put my books on promo for U.S. and U.K. readers, and all other countries including my own readers get the shaft. I copied a paragraph out of Amazon’s rules for this promo and I find it not particularly just:

Can I use Kindle Countdown Deals if I live outside of the U.S. or UK, like Italy or Japan?

Yes, but your Kindle Countdown Deals promotion will only be available for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Customers in countries that you have indicated rights for will see the countdown clock and the promotional list price with any standard fees included.  However, customers in countries that are supported by specific marketplaces (for example, Germany, India, and Australia) will not see the promotions at this time

When I look at this, it feels like a secret to me. The book will show on sale for two countries and nobody else will know? This doesn’t help us when we are putting our books on promotion and paying for advertising to help boost sales and ALL THE OTHER COUNTRY’S readers are told it’s on sale, but they can’t have that price. I think this is unfair marketing. I may as well tell the world my book is on sale, but sorry guys and gals, if you aren’t American or British you have to pay full price. It kind of leaves me feeling like a hypocrite to advertise.

I wasn’t aware of all this when I entered the new countdown program and ran it for Conflicted Hearts and I am locked in until September for another promo on Meno-What? A Memoir. The sale price won’t show on other countries but surely my readers will know when I advertise it’s on sale, yet some won’t be able to take part in the sale. Quite frankly, I am surprised I wasn’t questioned by readers when I ran the other promo.

I just don’t think this whole situation seems just. To me, it feels like prices should be fair across the board, like any other merchandise. If for example I was selling cars and I offered a particular car for $10,000 and a buyer came along and I found out he wasn’t a Canadian resident, could I tell him, sure you can buy it, but for you it’s $15,000? I don’t think that would go over so well.

For the record, after my last promo in August, I won’t be going exclusive on KDP again. I’ve been on Select since I began publishing because Amazon does have a big platform and once upon a time their promos were more lucrative. I will keep my books on Amazon, but it’s time to expand my distribution and share my books with others who don’t have them available to them on other channels. I’m all about fairness and equality. On other sites I will be able to run different promos and choose if I’d like to gift a copy with no holdbacks. I don’t know when it became politically correct to charge different prices for the same book for different nationalities.

Feel free to leave a comment here or voice your opinion to Amazon for all authors and readers who are not American or British.