Making Your Book Free on Amazon — Or Should I?

Making your book Free on Amazon — debate. So, yes, there’s a way to make your book Free…but the question is… should you?

Let’s take a look at the Terms and Conditions Pricing Page

According to Amazon… here’s the deal….

Matching Competitor Prices
From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore, if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. If we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero. (Unlike under the 70% Royalty Option, if we match a price for your Digital Book that is above zero, it won’t change the calculation of your Royalties indicated in C. above.)

Reading this, you might think that they’re saying if you want to put your book Free for promotional purposes, then they will match it. Nope. They’re saying that if the “sales channel” does it NOT you the author/publisher. So, if Barnes and Noble decides to put your book up for Free for prompotional puroses, THEN Amazon will price match.

Think about the List Price as the price you set at, let’s say, Lightning Source for your printed book. So, your printed book is $13.00, and Barnes and Noble wants to put on a promotional deal like: “All Books Are Now %30 Off”. Then Amazon’s robots (the bots) will see the price lowered at Barnes and Noble and then set their price the same.

If YOU, yourself, change your book to free, then you’re manipulating the “List Price,” and this circumvents the system, and the Terms and Conditions with Amazon as stated below.

Setting Your List Price
You must set your Digital Book’s List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.

But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.

By “list price in any sales channel,” we mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program.

When you set your List Price for our EU websites, you have to factor in the additional 15% value-added taxes (the Luxembourg statutory rate) we will add for EU customers, so that your List Price complies with this section after adding these VAT taxes.

What that is saying is that you need to set your price for your book the same for all sale channels.

“BUT,” you say, “Amazon’s lowest price is $0.99”.
Yep. That’s as low as Amazon will go, and so you, according to these Terms, are NOT to place your book any lower than $0.99 at other sale channels, which includes making it Free.

“But,” you say, “I got an email from Amazon stating that’s the only way to make my book Free is to make it Free somewhere else!”
Yep, I know. But I think now, with the flood of authors doing this exact same thing, it’s gotten out of hand and Amazon has now changed their tune. Email them today and see if you get that same advice. Probably not.

Does this mean I can sale my book Free on my personal website since it’s not a distributor?
Hmmm…well…. I mean, the words “sales channel” seems to cover any where. I would think that would include your personal website as well.

Will I be penalized if I do “manipulate” the system and make it Free anyway so that Amazon’s Bots will make my book free on Amazon?
No. Not right now. You just won’t get any royalties, which, at one time, Amazon did give Royalties for Free books with the the 35% Royalty Option (meaning your book was listed as less than $2.99). But making your book Free means, for most authors, that they didn’t look to get paid anyway–however it did increase their sales with their other books.

But everyone I know is doing it!
Yep. They are. But, now you know. You would be violating the Terms & Conditions if you decide to manipulate the bots. Everybody I know drives over the speed limit, and cops don’t seem to give away tickets to those who are just over by 10 miles per hour. Yet, you really can get ticketed if you’re just ONE (1) mile over the speed limit. Yes. Really. It’s the law.

That decision is up to you:: Do it until there’s an actual penalty, or follow the terms that you agreed to.

What are YOU, Deana Zhollis, going to do?
Who? Me? Uh…. well… er… uh. I’m human just like the next person. Don’t ask me that question! That’s too much pressure!

Heh. Heh.

But, seriously, more than likely, I’ll wait for an opening, some other kind of way…because there’s ALWAYS another way to get to the same type of results, right? I want to be seen and get more fans. The Free thing was a fast option for that. There’s anyway, albeit, much slower, but it’s still to the path of the Emerald City. When I find that yellow brick road, I’ll let you know.

Until Next Time.

2 Responses to “Making Your Book Free on Amazon — Or Should I?”

  1. That’s good information, I guess I kinda knew it anyway, but tried to look the other way. (Hmm any cops on this street?)
    With the new Kdp Select many authors enrolled in that program have an opportunity to set their books free for a limited time. Could that mean that Amazon’s caving? The pressure is on, maybe getting a push from Smashwords which allows free books.

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