Amazon’s Digital Text Platform

If you are not aware of it, Amazon has released a book reading device called the Kindle. This is a nice little electronic book/mp3 player that lets you read electronic books. It has been getting good reviews from such notables as Neal Gaiman and Robert J. Sawyer. I suspect that authors like the Kindle because it will sell more of their books at a higher profit.

Amazon, in an attempt to get more content for Kindle, and therefore make more money, has opened the Digital Text Platform up so that an anyone can publish a Kindle book. It is a new outlet for the terminally self published, but it is also a way for any author to begin selling books on Amazon without any investment other than a few hours of their time.

I experimented with Amazon’s new Digital Text Platform for about an hour this morning. I managed to get a very rudimentary book published. I will eventually create a how-to page for Amazon publishing, but for now here’s my first impressions.

1) The most important thing is how much money can you make. You can charge anywhere from 99¢ on up. You make 35% royalty. How many sales you make depends solely on how well you promote your book. Amazon will list the book in its Kindle section and the book will show up on Amazon searches.

2) The system wants bare bones HTML. It will take zip files containing graphics, but it will not handle multiple pages HTML with links. It wants a one large HTML file.

3) The system will take a PDF file, but will screw with it. The Kindle format is based on HTML so it is best to go the HTML route from the start. (DO NOT USE SAVE-AS-HTML IN MS WORD – THIS IS BAD! BAD! BAD!)

4) You must provide SSN and bank account info to complete your account information. I have an Amazon associates ID, but it is not recognizing that I have already entered this information.

5) The best procedure is to create a large HTML file, preferably without special characters or odd formatting. Use named anchors to link to the internal chapters (I will give exampled in my how-to page). Upload the file and let Amazon process it. Then download the file and see how Amazon has messed with it. Make changes. Add heading tags and the special Amazon page break tag for each chapter. Upload it and view it using their viewer and then download it again. Rinse, repeat, rinse.

6) Images must fit in the Kindle window which is 450×550 pixels. They say that PNG files are best. JPG files are compressed and sometimes the compression can cause artifacts and blur.

7) HTML must be very simple. Don’t use background images. Don’t use tables, frames, divs or other block items. I would avoid fonts, text colors or anything that would get in the way of reading. The KISS principle is useful here: Keep It Simple Stupid!

The Kindle is another way to get your novel or short story collection out there. If you are making $1.00 on a $10.00 book sale through then you can charge about $3 on Kindle and still make a dollar per sale without having to worry about postage. I would recommend going for the 99¢ price and settle for making 34¢ per sale and hope to make lots more sales. Amazon lets customers sort by price and it would be nice if you showed up at the beginning of the list rather than down near the end.


  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Can you enlarge the font appearance to make it easy to read on the device?

    Monday, January 14, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  2. Keith wrote:

    For an author or publisher, it would be easy to create a “Large Print” file. If you have a kindle and want to increase the size of the text there is a button that lets you choose between 6 font sizes. This lets you zoom in and use a big text size.

    Monday, January 14, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  3. envaneo wrote:

    It seems the kindle is not availible here in Canada

    Jim Shannon

    Monday, January 14, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink