Amazon takes Kindle self publishing global
Wanna sell some Orwell?
Amazon is expanding its Kindle self-publishing platform to allow authors and (supposed) rights holders to upload and sell e-books worldwide in English, German, and French.
The online vendor's global rollout of its Digital Text Platform arrives on the coattails of Amazon extending the reach of the Kinde DX e-reader beyond North America earlier this month.
Amazon's self-publishing platform allows those with publishing rights for a book or publication to sell the content on Amazon's Kindle Store. It was previously limited to the English language and to authors and publishers based in the United States.
Rights holders set their own prices and receive 35 per cent of sales.
However, determining if an author or publisher owns legal rights to a book is easier said than done. The self-publishing platform was what got Amazon in trouble last July, when it silently deleted all digital copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from its customers' Kindles after the real rights holder complained the titles were sold without permission. A third-party publisher had uploaded the digital texts to the Kindle store falsely claiming the titles were in US public domain.
Amazon vowed never to delete e-books in that manner ever again, but didn't say if any additional safeguards were put in place to make sure more unlicensed books don't appear under the platform in the first place. And a promise not to repeat the Orwellian moment is rather dubious in itself, as Amazon showed it has the ability to remove texts that are already paid for and downloaded – and has a legal obligation to remove pirated content.
How Amazon's self-help content rights vetting process will stand up to inevitable complications of an international stage may make holding to that promise even more difficult. The vendor doesn't detail any internal copyright screen procedures, but does ask sellers to confirm content rights themselves before uploading. (Hope you have your international copyright law primer handy, authors).
Amazon was not immediately available to comment on Kindle e-book copyright concerns. ®
self publishing != vanity publishing
An example I saw recently was a biography somebody wrote about their great-grandfather, who wasn't particularly famous. It was a nicely made book of interest to a rather small number of people. If it was printed by lulu.com then I would guess most copies were bought by the author, because that's how you get the best price from them.
In this particular case, the author of the self-published biography was also the author of dozens of conventionally-published academic books so I would guess it can't have been much of an "ego trip" (whatever that is exactly).
Re rights, ask Google perhaps?
Since Google is busily scanning the world's copyrighted out-of-print books, they probably can tell Amazon whether my novel is actually by me or is a minor work by Evelyn Waugh that I'm bootlegging.
Harder to tell whether I am Evelyn Waugh's heir and executor or not, or to stop me writing my own Harry Potter novels and selling them through Kindle.
Cheap electronic self-publishing is used to to keep out-of-print material available - stuff that was reasona bly successful at launch but is not necessarily going to pay back if printed up wholesale again. I think Airship Entertainment publishes some of their old comics material on Lulu, and it also provides mercchandising-type goods - image of your choice on a mug, maybe.
In comics "self publishing" is a badge of honor, they are the ones who, I think, first used the term, and some of it is quite good, for example Bone by Jeff Smith. After all, why bother paying a published if you can do it yourself?
An extremely generous rate*! I take it this is said it jest. Those 10-15% rotalties you mention are offered on print copies by publishers with massive input in terms of expertise and costs. Amazon is a retailer NOT a publisher. It provides no input whatsoever. SIXTY FIVE PERCENT is an outrageous sum for an online retail store. Neil
Swings and Roundabouts
It's an extremely generous rate compared to most publishers who offer maybe 10 or 15% royalties but then the audience and sales are going to be considerably smaller. Publishing in the Kindle shop first may also scupper any chances of selling through a traditional publisher who will expect exclusive publishing rights. For new works this is probably better left as a last resort alternative to vanity publishing than a mainstream outlet.