Amazon Exclusivity: What is it, really?

Digital publishing is the new – in the sense that we’re less than ten years in – big thing, and one of the largest discussion points is Amazon.

Amazon has a platform called Kindle Direct Publishing which handles distribution through their Kindle store and puts digital copies of books in the hands of their customers. Anyone can use KDP, and as long as you have the rights to what you publish there are very few content restrictions for the average author.

KDP Select is a program offered by Amazon through their KDP platform, and is entirely optional. In future posts, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of Select, primarily in terms of the impact it can have on your business as an independent author, whereas this post is intended to be a quick overview of the absolute basics. So please stop back!

Select, to Amazon, is a way for them possess a library of digital books that don’t exist anywhere else. Exclusive. Books in their Select program are prominently labeled for customers to see, to create added desirability intended to draw more readers to become Kindle users. There are no restrictions for readers, whereas authors who enroll books in the program need to understand what Amazon means by the term ‘exclusive’.

KDP Select has strict rules, and it’s important to know what they are before enrolling your book.

  • Select requires that Amazon to be the only distributor selling digital copies of the books in its program. This means no sales on Nook, iTunes, and other retailers, or even your own website.
  • You CANNOT put the book up in its entirety for free, anywhere. (Because it’s not just selling that matters, it’s the exclusivity of the content.)
  • You CAN, however, send free digital copies to reviewers.
  • You CAN upload a sample of a KDP Select book’s content – up to 10% – anywhere on the world wide web.
  • You CANNOT charge money for the 10%.
  • You CAN sell print copies of a KDP Select book anywhere, including Barnes & Noble and from your own website, or at in-person events.

Violating the terms of KDP Select can result in having your account suspended, and the loss of privilege for publishing books to KDP at all – including non-exclusive books. It is very important to understand all of the terms and conditions before using the program. You can read the full description on Amazon’s site:

Books do not have to start out exclusive to KDP to qualify for KDP Select. If you remove a book from all other digital sales channels, it can then be considered exclusive even if in the past it was not.

The optional enrollment in KDP Select is for a term of 90 days (3 months), meaning that once a book is enrolled, it is locked in until the term is up. Books are automatically set up to renew at the end of the period, but you can withdraw a book from auto-renewal any time during the 90 days of enrollment.

Again, this is a very basic overview of KDP Select. Anyone considering using the Select program should read the terms and conditions before enrolling.

This post was intentionally barebones, and simplistic. Should anything else be included? Does KDP Select’s definition of exclusivity seem straightforward or too complicated?

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