|Available on Amazon!|
The idea is that Amazon wants you to put your books up through their KDP service, especially the KDP Select so they can lock it in for 3 months. At the same time, though, Amazon doesn't want your book to succeed too much, or else they'll have to pay a bunch of royalties to you. In that article you can see some of the stuff Amazon does relatively covertly to try and make sure you can't get too successful too easily. As the article notes, when authors started to trade "tags" for their books to each other, Amazon began degrading that feature. When people were using the giveaways on KDP Select to help sell more books, Amazon degraded the ranking features so free books would have a harder time floating to the top. Recently the "like" button on books has become spotty, oftentimes nonexistent. Again this was after authors were trading "likes" to each other to help gain notoriety. (My "publisher" of A Hero's Journey encouraged this practice incidentally.)
Then after the "Pay for reviews" scandal they've seemed to have a haphazard approach to reviews. Some get taken down, some don't. (Unfortunately a lot of idiotic ones remain.) There's talk about how they might not let you review books in the genre you read the most or things like that. I'm not sure how much of that is fact and how much is fiction or whether that will change in the future. I haven't seen a difference yet but maybe it helps I write my Amazon reviews under a different name. (Incidentally when people bitch about that I say I've been using that name since 2001, so I see no reason to change it now.)
And while I suppose it's good to keep paid reviews out (though really if you got the money, why not? It's not like there's much integrity in non-paid reviews.) it's still all part of a system that's designed not to make it easy for you to get ahead. Which highlights the problem of when your publisher is also your bookstore. And as just another wrinkle Amazon has its own publishing labels now, which means all these self-pubbed novels are competing with their own titles. Do you think they really want to make it easy for my novels to sell more than theirs?
Another thing is their policy about royalties. It's great you can get 70%...but only on books $2.99 or more. And in countries like India or Brazil you won't get that unless it's in KDP Select, not that you'll probably sell much in those countries unless you translate it to Hindi or Portuguese. The hitch is that not as many books will sell at $2.99 most likely. So again while you might get more royalties for that 1 copy, you might not sell as many as if it were 99 cents or even $1.99. Also I heard on Writer Beware that if you try to sell it for more than $9.99 it goes back down to 35%. Just another way they try to keep their royalty payments in check.
Anyway, I love buying stuff on Amazon, but I can't pretend they're my best friend.
While I'm bitching about Amazon, the last few months I've bought less stuff off Amazon and it's Amazon's fault. For instance, they used put an album on sale for $2-$4 every day. Then they stopped doing that. So while before I might buy a couple of albums a week from Amazon, this year I've bought maybe a half-dozen total. And through the Amazon Local (their version of Groupon) they would offer vouchers for X amount off a book or album or maybe buy an album or Kindle book for $1.99 or something. Now if they do that it's only for ones THEY select, which almost always are crap or stuff I already have. The Vine newsletter where you can get free products in exchange for writing reviews has really gone downhill too. I mean the last one I got on Thursday only had a couple of books and MS Office 2013 (which was great but they only had a few copies so that ran out fast) whereas before they'd offer a wider variety of stuff.
I'm not sure if Amazon has just decided they've stomped the competition to the point they don't need to entice people with deals anymore or if internally they decided it was losing money. But really 95% of the more impulse type purchases I make there are because the item is on sale. No sale = no buying, not from me. I mean if they think I'm going to spend $10 on an album or $13 on an ebook they got another thing coming. I ain't made of money.
So they might want to reconsider these restrictive policies before it's too late. Because inevitably something else will come along, whether it's a site that already exists or something new, something will rise to take advantage if Amazon gets too complacent, as has happened to many a company, the Big Three automakers for instance. Don't be General Motors, Amazon!