Friday, April 22, 2016

Need More Competition for Ebook Selling Sites

I went back to 2010 and tracked all my book sales.  I used to do it every day, then every month, and then stopped because the book sales were depressing.

I decided I needed to know what was selling and what wasn't.  But what I found was something even more interesting.  Although I've sold a lot of books on Barnes and Noble and quite a few on Kobo and Smashwords/Apple/etc., I focused on the Amazon sales since they're the biggest site for ebooks that I've found.  I'm also worried Barnes and Noble might go away for ebook sales since some of their latest news is troubling (pulling books from the UK, for example).

Amazon's history with authors is a love/hate relationship, in my mind.  When I first started indie publishing with them, there was no 'algorithm' to speak of, no 'KDP Select' and no gimmicks like there are now (there seems to be a new one every year to me).  My books that were published those first two years did very well in book sales.  Granted, they've also been out the longest, so of course they'd have more sales.  But once KDP Select hit (I think it was in December 2011), my sales plummeted because I didn't jump on the KDP Select bandwagon.  Why didn't I do it?  Because I don't believe in putting all your eggs in one basket, and the KDP Select rules stated you could only have the books for sale on Amazon.  What about people who didn't have Kindles?  Were they out of luck?  I also couldn't give out any free books to the troops which I found unacceptable.

I have issues with Amazon's rules in general.  For example, people can't give reviews of authors they know.  Well...I know a lot of authors.  Some of them are relatives.  I can't review any of their books because Amazon seems to know who I know.  If I do review those books, my books will be pulled off their shelves.  So I don't give out reviews as a rule now, not knowing if Amazon will think I know the author and pull my books.

Even though friends can't review friends' books, troll reviews are okay.  That seems to be fine, even if the reviewer's posts are WAY out of line and personal attacks.  Sometimes the reviewer writes things like 'I didn't read the book but...'  And that's okay.  Boggles my mind.

Then there's the rule of a seven day return policy.  I, like other authors, became victims of this rule.  Readers have seven days to return a book, even if they read it.  So some readers consider Amazon to be their own personal library.  I witnessed this happening with my books.  I saw books in a series being read, one at a time, on my sales page.  Someone would buy the book and a day later, return it to buy another book in the series, and return it next...and so on, over the course of the month.  I wasn't the only author who had this happen.  I saw many threads on forums of this occurring.  I'm waiting for the expose of someone who read a bunch of books, free, even though they cost money, because of this loophole.

It didn't happen at Barnes and Noble, because they only allow a return IF the book hasn't been read past a certain point.  They also have a shorter window for a return.  I also don't hear stories of this happening on other sites, but they are smaller.

Since now that I have questions about the future of Barnes and Noble, and the other venues are small compared to Amazon, what's going to happen?  Is Amazon going to be the only monopoly in town?  Will we all be controlled by what Amazon does?  It's not that I hate Amazon, which I don't, but I don't quite understand the driving force behind it.  It looks like they're playing favorites, to me.

I'd love to see someone compete with Amazon, so they'd start treating authors better.  I just hope I'm not banned from Amazon because of my thoughts.

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

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