Amazon exec: Here’s why it pays to make your ebooks exclusive to us

Amazon’s ebook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, has attracted criticism recently, with some self-published authors complaining that the service devalues their work and chafing at the requirement that they make their ebooks exclusive to Amazon in order to participate.

But Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s VP of Kindle Content, suggested at the Digital Book World conference in New York on Wednesday that the vast majority of authors participating are satisfied with Kindle Unlimited — and he said that the program is helping them achieve earnings that have doubled since the program’s launch in July.

Authors who want their books to appear in Kindle Unlimited have to enroll in KDP Select, a program that requires them to make their ebooks exclusive to Amazon for three-month periods. “Every month authors have renewed availability of titles on KDP Select in excess of 95 percent before and after the launch of Kindle Unlimited,” Grandinetti said — suggesting that they are satisfied with the program despite a few high-profile complainers.

Furthermore, in the six months since Kindle Unlimited launched, “à la carte sales of authors in KDP Select are growing faster than KDP at large and Kindle at large,” Grandinetti said. Combine that à la carte income with “the money that authors earn or have earned from the subscription service as well as the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library,” and “sales from August to December 2014 are more than double what they were in 2013.”

“I do think there will be ways that we tweak it over time,” Grandinetti said, but “overall the system’s pretty healthy. We’re incredibly motivated to make this work for that community. They only have to participate for three months.”

“The most successful independent authors are most often so successful because they speak out,” said Mike Shatzkin, a book publishing consultant and conference chair who interviewed Grandinetti along with co-chair and Publishers Lunch founder Michael Cader. “It’s not surprising they become a noisy community at any point in time.”

Not necessarily, Grandinetti said. “We can see who the top authors are, obviously. There are many successful authors who just choose to focus on writing and not engage in the discussion of the business.”

The biggest difference between Amazon and book publishers

“We’re in a major battle right now for the future of the industry,” former Macmillan CEO Brian Napack said at the Publishers Launch conference Wednesday. Here’s why clashes between Amazon and book publishers are inevitable.

Why online book discovery is broken (and how to fix it)

Here’s the main problem with book discovery online: Right now, it doesn’t really work. New research shows that frequent book buyers visit sites like Pinterest and Goodreads regularly, but those visits fail to drive actual book purchases.

Publishers Lunch opens online bookstore, Bookateria

Publishing industry newsletter Publishers Lunch has opened an online bookstore in partnership with Random House. Bookateria’s goal is to aid discovery of new titles and “merchandise the daily book publishing news.” It includes over 2 million titles with affiliate links to bookstores.

What the DOJ settlement means for ebook prices now

Last week, a federal judge approved the DOJ’s proposed settlement with Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins for allegedly conspiring with Apple to set ebook prices. What does the settlement mean for ebook prices now?

So who’s leaking the details of the Apple e-book investigation?

Anti-trust investigations are supposed to be tight-lipped affairs in which all sides lawyer up until the case settles or goes to trial. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work at least. But in the case of book publishers and Apple, people are tossing legal duties to the wind in the hopes that press leaks will shape a settlement.