Friday, January 22, 2010

Amazon Kindle e-Book for Australian Publishers

Amazon now allows Australian publishers to publish e-Books on their Kindle electronic Book reader. I was able to register my Australian company address into Amazon's Digital Text Platform. One limitation is that only cheque payments are catered for to Australia, not electronic funds transfer. Due to the high cost of cheque processing, there would have to be significant book sales to make this worthwhile (Google now pay by EFT in Australian dollars, making the process a lot cheaper and easier).

A few weeks ago I attempted to publish an electronic edition of my "Green Technology Strategies" book for's Kindle e-Book device. Using Amazon's DTP web site, I was easily able to convert the book from the web format used by e-learning courses to Kindle's format. But I could not publish the e-book, as Amazon did not cater for Australian publishers with an Australian address and bank account.

Amazon some useful information on how to format your book. I have several version of the book to choose from. The PDF version did not convert well. I could have used the word processing version, but mine is a master document and I was not sure how well that would convert to Microsoft Word, as accepted by Amazon. I tried exporting the OOO version to HTML, but the results were not that good. OOO generated a table of contents with hypertext links, but the links are on the print page numbers, which do not make much sense for an e-Book (as the Kindle has smaller pages than a paper book). I could have used the web version of the book, but would have had to assemble all the chapters, which are separate web pages, into one document.

What worked best was the HTML generated by the Moodle Book module. This produces a good table of contents and creates reasonably clean HTML. I just had to remember to download the CSS file to go with it and zip them for uploading.

One change I made was to move the front matter of the book to after the table of contents. While with a paper book you can quickly flip over the boring stuff at the front, with a e-book this is tedious. It is better to put the table of contents first. Readers will see the front matter if the then scroll through the book, but will quickly learn the can skip this by clicking on the first chapter in the content.

One issue to be resolved are the external hypertext links in the book. In the USA, Amazon provide limited web browsing, but not internationally. The reader can't see the difference between local links in the book and external ones. The reader could get frustrated when the click on links which do not work. I might need to hide the external links for the Kindle version, or at least distinguish them. This is possible with some more CSS.

One catch with Kindle are the high charges by I get only 35% of the recommended retail price of the book. This is more than LuLu charge. Amazon also require that I make the cover price no more than the book is available from other outlets, so I cannot set a higher price for the Kindle version of the book.

In any case I thought it was time to stop theorising and start trying it, so I pressed "publish" and got this message:
Green Technology Strategies Tom Worthington (Author) 01/22/2010 ...

Publishing Green Technology Strategies. Your book is currently under review by the Kindle Operations team as we are trying to improve the Kindle customer experience. Please check back in 48-72 hours to see if your book was published to the store. This will not affect any titles you are currently selling in the store, but uploading updates to existing titles will take longer to process...
It will be interesting to see how long this actually takes for the book to appear on the Kindle catalogue.

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