Is Open Publishing Better Better Than Amazon Exclusivity?

Open Publish or Exclusive Publish

Open publishing would be the obvious choice for self-publishers if it were that easy.

Unfortunately, it is not such a simple choice as both have benefits and drawbacks.

Open publishing via Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Smashwords, or Draft2Digital, or through other self-publishing platforms, opens retail avenues to various ebook markets in many countries.

You would assume that it offers the opportunity to reach more potential readers. But that is not always the case.

Where to sell your ebooks

Currently, Amazon is so dominant in the retail ebook market.

There are clear benefits to enrolling in KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing Select).

But it requires forfeiting the right to open publishing.

Amazon demands 100% exclusivity for any and all ebooks you choose to enroll.

For self-publishing authors who have published a lot or even a handful of ebooks, there is the possibility of having the best of both worlds.

You can leave some titles available through open publishing while having a couple or a few exclusive to Amazon.

I imagine that most self-publishing authors with more than five or more titles do this.

Or they alternate their titles in and out of open publishing and Amazon exclusivity.

But for new authors, you need to make a choice if you only have one title.

Let’s look at your options.


The advantages of Amazon KDP Select exclusivity

The advantages of Amazon KDP Select exclusivity include marketing tools and promotional opportunities.

While they are useful and help gain both ebook sales and KU reads, the main advantage of KDP Select is that Amazon algorithms seem to favor exclusive ebooks over those not enrolled.

I will admit that I have no proof at all of this favoritism.

Except for the fact that every time I have enrolled (or re-enrolled) one of my ebooks in KDP Select, sales improve immediately and often dramatically.

The results I have experienced with open publishing can be best described as steady.

But they have never been at a level where I could ever have imagined giving up my day job.

Sure, Apple and B&N primarily provide regular ebook sales. But never at the same volume as Amazon.

KDP provides more sales than Apple and B&N combined for my open-published ebooks.

But for my ebooks enrolled in KDP Select, sales consistently exceed the combined volume of KDP, Apple, and B&N I earn under open publishing. Often by a very large number too.

But regardless of sales numbers, I want my ebooks to be available to as many potential readers as possible. The only way to achieve this is to have a foot in both camps.

Therefore, I usually have some ebooks available via open publishing and some with KDP Select.

Then from time to time, I rotate the titles in and out.


What if you have only one or two titles?

Open Publishing or Amazon exclusive?

It’s a tough decision and one that needs a lot of thought before making it.

The one saving grace is that it is not a hugely long-term decision. Amazon only asks for 90 days of exclusivity for each enrolment period.

So perhaps the answer lies in this for those authors with only one or two titles.

Try one and then the other.

It’s going to take six months to discover what works best for you.

But books and ebooks are long-term investments in providing an income for you, so six months is not such a long time.

For those authors who are starting on self-publishing, my advice, for what it’s worth, would be to try Amazon exclusivity at first.

Then, hopefully, armed with a new book after the three months of exclusivity, move your first ebook to open publishing.

Your new ebook could be enrolled exclusively for three months and later moved to open publishing.

Once you have published a few titles, the choices open up, and it becomes easier to experiment and decide what works best for you.



Many opinions about open publishing and Amazon exclusivity fill forums and blog comments on the Internet.

But at the end of the day, it is a decision each author must make.

There is definitely no one size fits all regarding your choice.

Open publishing allows you to distribute your ebook across multiple platforms and retailers.

It gives you more control over your distribution and potentially a wider audience.

On the other hand, Amazon exclusivity, through KDP Select, offers many benefits.

These include increased visibility, access to promotional tools, and participation in Kindle Unlimited, which can boost your sales and royalties as an author.

Your decision to go with open publishing or Amazon exclusivity will depend on your specific goals and priorities as an author.


Related reading: Read my review of Draft2Digital.

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