Print is dead, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’re probably tired of hearing about it. In the years since eBooks entered the public lexicon, they have undoubtedly grown to dominate their printed counterparts, particularly in the realm of sales. After all, why would anyone bother to buy a ‘real’ book when they could have the same content on their phone, tablet, or computer for less money?
While the average consumer may find eBooks to be a delightful alternative to the paper cuts and discarded dustcovers of yore, modern authors and publishers – both big and small – seem to have more of a love/hate relationship with the so-called ‘advancements’ in their field. Though there is certainly something to be said for digital publishing in matters of accessibility and longevity, that can’t always make up for the ever-decreasing prices authors are forced to slap on their books should they even hope to compete with other, more popular titles.
More recently, however, profits haven’t been the only issue for authors and presses in the digital age. As Amazon moves to corner the market on digital publishing, with the continued growth subscription-based Kindle Unlimited and the climbing popularity of Kindle Direct Publishing Select, the question of how to maintain independence continues to plague small-time publishers. Amazon has had few competitors in the subscription reading service gig, and with a revenue of nearly $120 million a year, it’s hard for most ‘starving artists’ to deny such a lucrative offer.
So, what does this mean for independent authors and small presses? At the moment, not much. Really, it’s all about considering whether the short-term payout is worth the long-term commitment. Enrolling in KDP Select means giving Amazon the rights to your digital content. You can still publish physical copies, but you’re prohibited from selling on your own or through any other vendor. For some, this isn’t too big a deal, but it could obviously become a problem for those who don’t think they’re being given their fair shake. At the end of the day, the question is a personal one. Do you really want to place all your eggs in the Amazon basket?