Just when you think you have the “system” figured out something comes along that makes you realize that you really don’t.
Amazon has this nifty feature related to Kindle edition ebook purchases. There is a yellow button over on the right hand side of the screen that allows you to GIVE AS AS GIFT.
As an Indie author or Indie publisher, gifting a book to a potential reader can be a pretty good choice. There are other choices in giving your book to someone, and we could get into a lengthy debate about whether it’s better to use Smashwords’ free coupons, send people PDF’s, or any one of numerous other options. There are arguments for each. But this post isn’t about that choice. It’s just about what happens when you do choose to use Amazon for your ebook gifting.
The “advantage” of gifting a Kindle edition ebook to a reader is that it should show up as a sale, thereby improving your Amazon sales statistics. Your book’s relative sales statisitics are so very important in driving future sales that it may be worth it to you to spend money on your own book. Think of it as a form of advertising. Bear in mind that, assuming you are in a price range to get a 70% royalty, (taxes aside) you are only actually paying 30% of the sales price of your book, since you get the 70% back in royalties. Thus, the cost of your advertising is 30% of the cost of your book. However, there is a catch. A BIG catch, which we only discovered a few days ago.
When you buy your own book and gift it to someone, Amazon charges your credit card the full sales price, and emails the link to the address you provided for the recipient of the gift. So, let’s say that Pamela Fagan Hutchins buys Saving Grace and gifts it to her grandmother. BUT, unless the ebook is actually downloaded, IT DOES NOT COUNT AS A SALE FOR ROYALTY PURPOSES. In other words, if Pamela’s grandmother can’t figure out how to download the ebook to her new, never-used Kindle lovingly given to her by her doting great grandchildren (a likely scenario), it does not add to Pamela’s number of ebooks sold. ANNNNND, most importantly PAMELA DOESN’T GET PAID! Seriously, YOU the author, don’t get paid. Amazon, for the sale of your eBook, does.
Let me take a moment to let that sink in for you. AMAZON collects for the sale of your book, BUT THEY DON’T PAY YOU! Really.
So let’s put it in another context. Let’s say a friend of yours buys your book as a gift for someone else. But that gifting email gets forgotten, ignored or deleted. Again, a likely scenario. Your friend’s credit card gets charged. Amazon gets paid for the purchase of your book. You, the author, get nothing.
Moral of the story: Do everything you can to insure that the Kindle eBooks you purchase (or others purchase) on Amazon as gifts to others are sent to people who actually download them. Only when they are actually downloaded from the link does Amazon count them as a royalty-worthy sale.
Tsk, tsk, Amazon. Not very nice.