An open letter to:
Mr Jeff P. Bezos
President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board
Without you, and Amazon, self-publishing, print on demand and ebooks would not exist today in the book market. Nor would the opportunity for almost anyone on the planet to exercise their want to write what they truly believe in, and have the opportunity to be read. It matters not how many copies are sold, nor how many people read each book, nor whether a book is free of not. What matters is that Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing have empowered writers and at the same time, given readers a choice, which whether they understand or not, they did not have before Amazon self-publishing.
Even given that ebooks have become almost mainstream now and that there are many players in the ebook retailing market, it is always Amazon who has led the way in innovation.
As so often happens with innovation, though, there are those who resist or argue against change, but without evolution, improvement, trial and almost inevitably the occasional error or two, progress cannot be made. From the advent of KDP to KDP Select exclusivity, to Kindle Unlimited, and now to pay-per-page royalties, no one can argue that Amazon is not at the forefront of innovating in both self-publishing and publishing as a modern industry. In fact, in my personal opinion, Amazon is the only self-publishing company that is daring to innovate, change and improve so willingly.
Digital products such as music, film and video have proven over many years to be a challenge to market, so, therefore, ebooks are no different. A digital file is a digital file. However, when viewed in perspective, Amazon and ebooks must rate as one the most outstanding success stories in digital delivery and sales.
For this, every self-publishing author should recognise Amazon’s amazing commitment to self-publishing and in Amazon sharing this success with authors.
Except for one very important issue, Jeff.
While self-publishing on Amazon, though, either Kindle Direct Publishing or Createspace is available to almost any writer anywhere in the world, the fairness of paying royalties to authors is definitely not. It’s time to pay all authors fairly.
While authors in the US, UK and a few European countries enjoy royalty payments every month by Electronic Funds Transfer for any accrued amount, a whole other world of authors are penalised by having to accrue either $100, £100 or EUR100 and then be paid by check, which is then subject to bank fees to clear for payment. Depending on the bank and country, this can be from 5% to 10% of the check’s value.
Not only that but for authors, who may sell only a few copies of books in certain countries, this limitation can mean that they may not see their due royalties for years.
In addition to this problem, Createspace pays by EFT to far fewer countries than KDP. As both are Amazon companies, I for one I cannot understand why this problem has existed for so many years. In my reading of the community forum on Createspace, this inequity has existed for six years now.
In comments I received to a recent blog post on these subjects, I was very surprised to read that even authors in Australia and Canada suffer from payment issues from both Createspace and KDP. This is not a fair situation. I know many, many self-published authors have contacted Amazon either directly or via Amazon Community Forums regarding this issue for a very long time now, but very little positive action has been taken by Amazon.
For all that you have done so brilliantly for self-publishing, thank you Jeff, but I ask you to extend your innovation, ingenuity, ongoing improvement and commitment to all authors, and not only those who luckily reside in one of very few selected countries. If an author can self-publish on Amazon, and then sell books or ebooks that make a profit for Amazon, surely they all should be paid for their work – fairly, equally and as promptly.
Thank you again for all your achievements in self-publishing, but I hope this one important issue of fairness to a world of Amazon self-published authors will warrant your personal attention.
If you are a self-publishing author, who agrees that Amazon should act to ensure all self-published authors are paid equally, fairly and promptly, please send your thoughts to Mr Jeff Bezos by email – firstname.lastname@example.org