KDP Select

December 12, 2011

Since I publish directly to the Kindle store, I get information from Amazon on the new stuff for those that distribute ebooks via Amazon. Recently, I got an e-mail talking about KDP Select. Today, I am putting up thoughts on the idea, but I cannot give a reliable view, since I have not used it.

KDP Select, according to Amazon, is an option where the one who submits the work can offer ebooks free for a limited time and allows them to profit off of lending. As I have yet to use it, I cannot really say anything else much good about.

Now, even though I may not be a credible source on this, since, as I said earlier, I have not tried it, there are things I absolutely dislike. First, Amazon wants the ebook to be exclusively on the Kindle. Amazon is one of the biggest companies on the Internet, but that does not mean that everyone and their dog is going to be in any top ranking list on their site. I sure have not seen great success from them. Second, but related to the first, I have to use an inferior format called MOBI. I can't find any details about KF8 other than HTML5 support, which does not impress me as it is not finalized, and CSS support that should have been around since the beginning, along with fixed layouts. EPUB 3 can do it too, but requires HTML5, which I don't plan to learn until W3C finalizes it. Both KF8 and EPUB 3 definitely sound superior to MOBI, but EPUB 2, successor to OEB, is also superior, and I have a post on that. As I can already get valid XHTML 1.0 and HTML 4, I can say that EPUBs definitely looked better than the Kindle variant, since the tags work as the should (e.g. Whitespace is automatically applied between a heading and a paragraph and even between paragraphs). MOBIs did not even have content I wanted in italics italicized for the longest time. For that reason, I'd prefer to make my work exclusively available in EPUB. The main reason for me to use EPUB over MOBI is that I already have the tools at my disposal on Mac and Linux. To make MOBI files, I have to get Kindlegen or Calibre. I would rather use the latter to maintain my library and sync my ebooks, not to convert files, though it is possible. On Windows, There are somewhat all the necessary tools, except that it is easier to get valid EPUBs using Info-Zip than the native compression feature. I also don't need to worry about what software a person has. if I use EPUB, I can tell them how to access content with getting any plugins or software. With MOBI, the files are not as accessible, so it can only be viewed in readers that support the format, such as Calibre and Kindle for PC. Third, I make more from my print editions than my ebooks, although I am considering going digital only because the printer distributor annoyed me by submitting my books to iBookstore and Barnes & Noble's ebook store without consent.

Despite Amazon being the biggest game in town for ebooks, my dislike of the MOBI format and the consideration of HTML5 and styling support that should have been around from the beginning, in MOBI, in KF8 makes me want to stay clear of this kind of setup. If I were forced to choose, I would take EPUB exclusive any day, but as I want my readers to have a choice, I'm not going to do that.

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