Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon's DTP: A new self-publishing option for e-books--Dusk

This post courtesy of Dusk Peterson, by way of the Erotic Romance Writers Forum.

Details here. Full details here, including FAQ and some forums that are getting lively.

This is a new site that will allow self-publishers to publish their books in the AZW format that is used only at Amazon for its Kindle e-books. Until now, only e-books in the Mobipocket format could be sold at Amazon. There are rumors around the blogosphere that Amazon will shut down Mobipocket, because Kindle e-books are clearly intended as an alternative to Mobipocket. Since self-publishers could already work with Mobipocket, the only practical difference this change makes is that Amazon's new Digital Text Platform (that's its awkward name for self-publishing e-books at its Kindle store) is clearly modelled after Lulu.com. It's user-friendly and is aimed at self-publishers, though it could certainly be used by small presses.

As with Mobipocket, Amazon keep 35% of the profit. By contrast, Lulu asks for 20% of the profit for e-books. There are no set-up fees at either service.

As with Mobipocket and Amazon's POD self-publishing service CreateSpace, you don't need an ISBN; Amazon will assign you an Amazon-only reference number.

One nice thing I notice about the Support section is that Amazon provides detailed suggestions on formatting your e-book, prior to uploading.

Potential nastiness in the fine print:

1) You have to have a valid US bank account, and Amazon withholds taxes from your profit.

2) You can't sell the e-book for a different price elsewhere than the list price you set at Amazon.

3) They say they can sell the book at any price they want; however, they emphasize that you'll still get 35% of the list price you set.

4) They can make chapters available free online for readers to browse.

5) They say that you give them a nonexclusive *irrevocable* license to sell the book; however, the next clause implies that this can be terminated. Except: "All rights to Digital Books acquired by customers prior to termination shall survive termination, and Amazon shall be entitled to retain archival copies of the Licensed Digital Content after termination in order to provide re-downloads to customers who have purchase Digital Books prior to termination." Fair enough.

6) "You acknowledge that we will be entitled to utilize DRM technology in connection with the distribution of Digital Books but are not obligated to do so." In actual fact, Kindle's AZW format is DRM-protected.

7) There's no specific mention of erotic content or other controversial content in the terms of conditions (just the usual don't-upload-anything-illegal clause), but this FAQ leaves that issue open.


Dusk Peterson said...

I wrote earlier, "As with Mobipocket, Amazon keep 35% of the profit."

Big correction: Amazon gets 65%, you get 35%.

Emily Veinglory said...


Anonymous said...

Remember. Their 65% also covers hosting costs, coding costs (they have to pay people to build these systems), and transition through the Sprint cellular network. This is far better than the royalties you would get from a big publisher, that is unless you were a best selling author,

Emily Veinglory said...

Actually I am with a major epublisher who provides thorough editing, cover art and all formatting, promotion, a built in market all other traditional third-party publisher services, and starting shortly an Amazon listing--resulting in sales in the 1000s. All for only 60%.

No one can tell me Amazon alone is a better deal than that.

Dusk Peterson said...

"This is far better than the royalties you would get from a big publisher"

Yes, but we're talking about a distributor, not a publisher. Amazon isn't going to be editing my work, I trust. :)

As a distributor, Amazon will take short discounts for print books that are published through Lightning Source - by "short discounts," I mean anything down to 20%. Moreoever, word on the cyberstreets is that Amazon continues to offer a 35% discount to presses and self-publishers who publish through their Mobipocket program.

This passage from Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon may offer insight into Amazon's motives for requiring a higher discount for its DTP books:

* * *

As Amazon has grown bigger and stronger, it has also grown greedier. Amazon's model is no longer based on getting a standard discount at all. It's based on getting a discount that's greater than standard.

As I knew very well, Amazon has for years been strong-arming publishers into offering discounts normally reserved for wholesalers. Large and medium-sized publishers have been approached directly, while smaller publishers have been herded into Amazon Advantage and enticed into BookSurge.

Now, with most of that work done, Amazone, has begun favoring compliant publishers. What this means is that books on short discount and standard discount are being penalized. Unless you're giving Amazon more than it can rightly be said to deserve, your books will be hurt.

Though this has become obvious first with Better Together and Also Bought positions, it may have already been applied to search results. And in the future, it may spread to even more functions.

* * *

So wrote Mr. Shepard in 2006. It looks as though his words were prophetic.