Booksellers and publishers criticize Amazon for destroying the clubby old world of publishing. Yet, for readers and writers, the online retailer is constantly rolling out new features to expand the reach of books and the power of authors.
Case in point: Amazon’s Lending Library. Amazon Prime members can borrow one book a month for their Kindles with no due date. And unlike your library and its e-book service, thousands of books are available now and you don’t need to download complicated software to read them. All you need is Amazon Prime and a Kindle (or the Kindle app on an iPad). This is a tremendous service for readers around the country, who now have access to a vast library of books.
How this works for authors – I’m an Amazon author, having used their Kindle Direct Publishing service for Murder in Ocean Hall. When the lending program rolled out, I was given the option of enrolling my book. I did. As incentive, Amazon set aside a $6 million pool in 2012 to be divided up by authors who participate. So, if there are six million borrowed books in the year and a hundred of those borrows are Murder in Ocean Hall, then I get $100.
There’s a lot of experimentation going on in the e-book space, as the market adjusts to this new world of publishing. But what I like about these changes is that more power has been given to writers, and more choice is available to readers. That’s something to cheer about.