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What if you could lend the electronic version of your book to readers for free, while pocketing a royalty?  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, perhaps it would be, if not for Kindle’s ever-adapting platform.

KDP Select” is a program that enables Amazon Prime members to check out a limited amount of books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library at no cost, and read them at their leisure (there’s no due date). The best part, for authors and publishers, is that royalties are paid by Amazon for each copy borrowed. The amount per copy changes monthly, based on a fund that Amazon sets aside every month as incentive for publishers or authors who list their books this way, and is determined in part by how many books are borrowed overall (among all the titles listed in this program). But in general, the royalties are comparable, or sometimes better than, the royalties that would typically be earned by an eBook sale.

The catch? KDP Select requires that the book is released as an eBook through Kindle exclusively for a period of three months. Afterwards, it can be released as an eBook everywhere else (for the Nook, Sony e-readers, and so on), and after the three-month exclusivity period is up, the book will still be enrolled in KDP Select, forever, it seems (or until they end this innovative program). The good news is that the restrictions do not apply to print versions, so the book can be released in print and in the Kindle format simultaneously.

Books published by Scribe Publishing Company will always be made available for Kindle and will participate in this program as long as it lasts. Like book reviews, signings, and other promotional efforts, allowing readers to borrow your work for free is another way to expose potential readers to your work.  Word of mouth travels fast, and if someone borrows your book and likes what they read, they may decide to tell all their friends.

It’s hard to resist the pull to e-readers, which are getting cheaper and more functional by the minute. These new devices allow bookworms to carry around as many titles as they want, without risking that pesky back strain associated with lugging a twenty-pound bag.

But…

How does the poor soul who prides himself on buying books at his local, independent book store reconcile the use of his shiny new toy?  How will that independent bookstore ever survive if everyone’s buying ebooks online?

Well, the American Booksellers Association has found a way to fight back. They’ve launched an ebook reading application that allows customers to purchase ebooks from their local, independent bookstores’ websites. Customers can purchase and read Google eBooks on any Android device, and they are able to read them later on their computer and many e-readers.

To check it out for yourself, search the Android market for IndieBound Reader. Then hit up the indie bookstores selling Google eBooks.

The best part about this app is that it allows readers to support independent bookstores anywhere, even if they live in an area that no longer has any.

Amazon is normally hush-hush about sales numbers for Kindle devices, but the online retailer issued a press release in late December indicating it had sold more than one million Kindles during each week of December.  The top three sellers reported on the site were the Kindle Fire and two electronic readers, the Kindle Touch and Kindle, but some analysts estimate the number of Kindle Fire devices sold to be as high as five-and-a-half million in December.

Coupled with the release of 2011 print sales numbers, which fell by about 9% last year (double the rate of 2010) and the welcomed news that Amazon has launched Kindle Library Lending , it should be an interesting year for e-book growth opportunities, and Scribe Publishing Company will be keeping its eye on the trends.

Haven’t gotten an e-reader yet? Maybe holding off will have been to your benefit, as the tricked out Kindle Fire is almost out and Barnes and Noble is allegedly releasing a new version of the Nook on Nov. 7.

So far, we’re sticking to our regular Kindles (and paper books poolside), but the idea of reading a magazine in color on a tablet is nice…

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