For new self-publishing authors, choosing between Amazon KDP and KDP Select can cause some confusion.
Amazon self-publishing is by far the most popular publishing service for indie authors and independent publishers.
Making your books available on Amazon stores worldwide gives you the best chance to sell your ebooks to Kindle or Kindle app readers.
However, there is a choice you need to make when you publish.
Amazon self-publishing choices
When you publish a book, you use the standard “vanilla” Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service.
But you can also choose to enroll your ebook in the KDP Select program.
There are both benefits and drawbacks to this option.
You need to consider what is best for you before deciding.
But make sure that you are aware of the differences, especially regarding exclusivity.
With Kindle Direct Publishing, there is no right or wrong choice between Amazon KDP and KDP Select.
It will depend on your publishing and book promotion plans.
But one important point is KDP Select is not a forever option.
It is for only 90 days but has an automatic renewal, so be aware.
To help you decide, here is a summary, followed by the pros and cons of each choice.
What’s the difference between KDP and KDP Select?
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is non-exclusive publishing.
There are no restrictions.
You can sell your ebook through any other book retailer, as well as with Amazon Kindle.
You can also offer your book for free on other retailers.
There is no restriction about offering part or all of your ebook on your author’s website.
The standard KDP option allows you to publish your ebook on Amazon, but you are free to decide on its distribution.
However, Amazon KDP Select requires that you grant Amazon exclusive selling rights for your ebook.
It is important to note that Amazon only requires exclusivity for your Kindle ebook version.
It does not apply to paperback, hardcover, or audiobook versions of your title.
You cannot offer your ebook in any file format on any other ebook retailer.
It can only be for sale on Amazon.
There is also a restriction on the amount of free sample content you can offer, even on your website.
This limitation is 10%.
This limit applies to any platform or service you might use to promote your book.
Amazon’s explanation of Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDPS) digital (ebook) exclusivity is quite clear:
“When you enroll a book in KDP Select, you’re committing to making the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP while it’s enrolled in the program.
All content enrolled in KDP Select must remain for sale through the Kindle Store only. If the digital version of your book appears to be available for pre-order, for sale, or for free elsewhere (such as on your website or blog, or a third party’s website), then it is not eligible for KDP Select.
Adding new content (such as bonus content, author’s commentary section, etc.) to a book that is available elsewhere will not satisfy the exclusivity requirements. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for complete exclusivity requirements.
However, you may choose to make up to 10% of your book available on other sites as a sample, as well as continue to distribute your book in physical format (including print-on-demand books), or in any format other than digital. 10% is roughly the length of the Kindle Free reading sample.
You may also provide professional reviewers with a copy of your book via email for the purpose of editing, proofreading, and helping with other quality improvements. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information. When you enroll a boxset in KDP Select, none of those books can be offered on another platform.
If we remove your book from KDP Select due to violation of the exclusivity requirements, you may re-enroll your book as soon as you ensure it is no longer available elsewhere in a digital format.”
Check and select the best Amazon KDP publishing options for you
Make sure you choose the right option for you.
Pay close attention to the KDP Select enrollment option when you self-publish a new ebook.
If you are already published, you can check your Amazon KDP bookshelf to make sure that you have made the right selection.
The images below show where you can tell Amazon which option you prefer.
Select your Kindle ebook from your KDP dashboard. Then click the hamburger menu button on the right. You can then click on KDP Select Info.
The popup screen gives you the option to continue your enrollment automatically. Untick if you wish to cancel.
When you save your preference, you will see confirmation of your ebook’s status.
With the setting above, your ebook is enrolled in Select and will automatically renew every 90 days.
If you want to opt out at any time, go back to your Select Info and untick the renewal box.
Your ebook will then return to the standard KDP listing at the end of the current enrollment period.
With the options above, you can enroll your ebook continually in Select or opt for only a limited time.
What are the pros and cons of Amazon KDP and Select?
To help you understand which Amazon publishing platform option is best for you and your Kindle book, let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of these two alternatives.
The main advantage of standard KDP publishing is that there are no restrictions placed on you as to where you can offer your ebook for sale.
You can offer your ebook for free on your website, or you can offer extended preview reads to help with your book marketing.
You can publish and sell your book with any other ebook retailers, even at a lower price.
Because your ebook will be available for sale on all Amazon Kindle Stores, it will be available on by far the biggest ebook retailer in the world. Amazon. This really is a huge advantage.
But you can get sales or discount your book on other ebook retailers such as Apple, B&N, Kobo, or any others you choose with your ebook aggregator.
Your ebook will not be available on Kindle Unlimited (KU), Amazon’s subscription program for Kindle owners.
Your ebook will not be eligible for 70 percent royalty earnings for customers in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico. (This is not a big deal for most authors.)
You cannot use promotional tools on Amazon, such as Kindle Countdown Deals or free book promotions using Kindle Free ebooks.
KDP Select Pros
Obviously, it is the inverse of KDP cons.
Your ebook will be available on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription reading service.
Reading royalties are calculated by how many pages customers read, and you are paid from the Select Global Fund.
Your ebook will be eligible for 70% royalty earnings on your list price to customers in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.
You can use Amazon book promotion tools such as Kindle Countdown Deals.
In addition, you can also offer your ebook for free for a limited period of five days every three months using Kindle Free ebooks.
KDP Select Cons
Exclusivity restrictions stop you from being able to offer your ebook for sale, or your ebook for free, anywhere else other than Amazon.
Auto-renewal can be a trap. Check very carefully, as illustrated earlier, to avoid rolling over unintentionally for another three months.
When you have ebooks on other retailers and want to enroll in Select, you must ensure that all your ebooks are removed from other retailers before you enroll.
This process can take days or weeks for some retailers.
Failure to do this can result in Amazon warnings or, worse, the delisting of your ebook.
If you have a problem and need assistance removing an ebook from sale, contact your aggregator or retailer.
In my experience, aggregators will react and help you in working to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
Verdict – Amazon KDP or Select?
There is no right or wrong choice.
It will depend on each service or feature that fits your self-publishing objectives.
If you wish to open-publish, which means that you can sell your ebook on as many retailers as possible, then standard KDP will be the right choice for you.
But if you are content to have your ebooks published and for sale on Amazon only, and have your ebook included in Kindle Unlimited and use the promotional services Amazon offers, then KDP Select should be your choice.
But if you want to get the best of both worlds, you can always hop in and out of KDP Select.
Many authors and publishers do this to maximize book sales potential.
From my own experience, I favor putting some of my ebooks into Select for the summer months and then back to standard KDP for the rest of the year.
The only important point is that you know what you are doing. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of the two choices on offer.
Once you do that, you can leverage whichever option you choose to your best advantage by using effective book promotion.
The choice between enrollment in Amazon KDP or KDP Select only affects Kindle ebooks.
If you also publish your book in a print book version on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing, Blurb, or Lulu, there are no restrictions on these versions. There are also no restrictions on audiobooks.
Related reading: Is It Easy To Self-Publish For A First Time Author?