Back in 2010, my boss gave me a Kindle for Christmas. I still have it, though the hubby uses it these days. I absolutely fell in love with e-reading. Having all the books I could imagine at my fingertips was so exciting! And then that first little e-reader opened the door for me to begin publishing my own books. In November 2011 Witch Way Bends went out into the world on Amazon. I can honestly credit Amazon and Kindle with helping me become a published author.
Through the years I’ve remained loyal to Amazon. When I buy ebooks, I do it through Kindle. I have Kindle apps on my phone, my tablets, my computer. I upload all of my own books to Amazon. I also do a lot of my other online purchasing through Amazon.
But as an Author, I’ve been encountering some troubling issues with my old love.
For one, it’s always been difficult to make books free on Amazon. Free is a tool that many authors use to create a “loss-leader.” In other words, making the first book in a series free helps lead your series into the hands of more potential buyers. Amazon doesn’t allow you to make a book free (unless it’s in Kindle Unlimited, but that’s another issue I’ll get to shortly…) so you have to jump through hoops to get them to force the book to free. Then you sometimes have to jump backwards through those same hoops to make your book paid again.
A few years ago Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited, KU for short. Many readers have enjoyed finding books through KU, the Netflix of e-reading. Pay a monthly subscription and get access to all the KU subscribed books you want! What a deal for those of us who read voraciously. But, for authors it came with a catch. Putting books in KU required a 3-month commitment that you would have your title exclusive to Amazon. This meant we had to remove our books from all other ebook sites (iBooks, Kobo, Google, etc.). Authors get paid an amount figured by the number of page reads your book gets. And the amount isn’t known until Amazon releases the Global Fund numbers at the end of the month. Those numbers fluctuate quite a bit. And recently a change to the Kindle Readers provided a feature called Page Flip. This was a nifty tool that let readers go to a different spot in a book, then flip back to where they were. But it had problems too. Sometimes people read a book entirely in the Page Flip feature and that didn’t report page reads, so authors lost money. We had to find a way to disable the Page Flip in the files we uploaded to Amazon.
Getting tired yet? I know I’m exhausted just explaining it all to you. But that isn’t all…
Last year troubling reports began to arise from authors in KU. Some of them were paying for companies to promote their books and when their Page Reads jumped, Amazon did too. Because some authors (there are always bad apples out there) began manipulating their Page Read numbers by nefarious means. And so Amazon shut down some accounts… which means some of the good apples got caught in the trap. (See this blog post.)
And just a few months ago there came a new wrinkle. Bad apples again… but some people have been pirating books and uploading them to Amazon. In the past Amazon sometimes sends emails to authors asking them to issue a statement that they are the author and have the rights. I’ve done it many times without a problem. But lately, Amazon has required copyright filings. I have never and don’t intend to file with the government for copyright because I am of the school that interprets the law to state that copyright exists at the time of writing. And I personally don’t like to deal with the government more than I have to (it’s the libertarian in me…) So I hope I never get one of those letters because I’ll likely just not publish a book with Amazon if that happens. I hate to say that because my Amazon sales have traditionally been good, but I don’t like the idea of the behemoth e-commerce site forcing me to do anything.
I’ve from time-to-time encouraged my readers to consider other e-book purchasing options, especially iBooks because that company is one of the easiest to deal with from an author perspective. Then it suddenly struck me that while I’ve asked readers to look at other retailers, I haven’t. I don’t have a Mac or other iProduct, so it hasn’t been an option for me to go that route. I was still buying my books exclusively from Amazon…
… but that’s about to change.
I’m a part of a fun project called #MeetCute (if you haven’t heard of it, check out our books at www.meetcutebooks.com) and as a part of that, Kobo created a special page on their sites for all of our #MeetCute books. And when I went to the site to check it out I noticed a few things…
For one, my little Ebates button popped up and let me know that I could get up to 5% cash back on Kobo’s site. Now since I’m an Ebates junkie, that peeked my interested. So I decided to check out their ereaders since I’d been considering getting a new one this year. Did you know that Kobo has a water resistant ereader? And reviews seem to be phenomenal (I actually checked the reviews on Amazon since I figured those would give a better range.)
Kobo also has audiobooks and they offer a free trial just like Amazon. So I’ve decided to download the Kobo app to my cell phone and to start reading. The app works well and so far I’m pleased.
So have you tried Kobo yet? Hop on over and check them out today!