For Macmillan Authors Exiled by Amazon

Update: It’s Over. However, Calibre is still awesome cool, and so is Feedbooks.

Hello there.

I admire a lot of you. On the other hand, I have a Kindle. And so do others. Without access to the Kindle store, the question of how to reach Kindle readers may be thought about.

What I’m saying is that this can be done outside of Amazon Kindle distribution. You don’t get the nice “buy directly” capability, but on the other hand, your readers who love you can still read you.

Disclaimer: ebook rights are still something owned by your publisher, though. So you mayn’t be able to sell files, probably in most cases. I don’t know what you should do in that case; likely your agent or editor knows, or knows someone who will know. Maybe some negotiating can be done. I have no idea.

Perhaps this little article is useful for Macmillan imprints too. I don’t know. Or maybe Lulu (it would be so neat to see Lulu and Feedbooks work together, I think).

Here are some tips.

Tip #1: The Kindle reads Mobipocket books. Mobipocket is a format that is offered by Fictionwise and Webscriptions and Books On Board and many other places, as it’s a format that has existed for quite some time. You just need a Mobipocket offering somewhere—but without DRM. ‘Cause DRM for Fictionwise is incompatible with a Kindle, but they offer an open version as well. ((Yes, I know there are ways to crack this, but most readers will not do that.))

Tip #2: Use Feedbooks if you aren’t hip on creating a Mobipocket yourself, and/or don’t like Fictionwise’s Mobipocket conversion (which leaves a hell of a lot to be desired). Their interface is nice, and will give you multiple formats, in fact, to download, all with a linkable table of contents. You don’t have to make your book openly accessible on their site either (they don’t sell books), so you can just have them automatically create files to sell. All for free.

Tip #3: More for readers. But you can email your files to your Kindle (which incurs a cost, though, base of $0.15 these days, increasing if your file happens to be over 3MB), if you don’t want to use the old USB-to-computer-and-copy method. Webscriptions and Fictionwise even, I think, have a way for purchases to be automatically sent to your Kindle in this manner.

Tip #4: EPUB books without DRM can be easily converted to Mobipocket books. The Mobipocket free commandline utility, mobigen, does this. Here are some instructions I wrote. I can also convert EPUB books on a one-by-one basis if people would like this; even if you tell me I gotta buy the book before I convert it for you.

End of tips. Back to authors:

You can also just give the finger to those with Kindle devices, but that’s only possible if you use DRM or refuse to use both Mobipocket and HTML formats, which will screw over a much larger audience than Kindle owners. Though business is business, or something.

Personally I keep using my Kindle, because of my eyes (sorry, can’t help my eyes, they hurt horribly from LCD screens too long, which is why I couldn’t use an iPad anyways) and because I like its interface and its screen better than the Sony Reader or the Nook (respectively). And, well, a lot of publishers and authors still want DRM.

Anyways, the Kindle itself is not that closed. (Neither is the Nook, for that matter, although the Nook is based on EPUB, not Mobipocket.) Could it be closed off? Well, it hasn’t been yet, so I figure one might as well try to make money from all possible avenues. If it does become that closed, then this article is of no more use.

But remember that a lot of people still use Mobipocket reader on other devices, like cellphones.

3 thoughts on “For Macmillan Authors Exiled by Amazon

  1. Or you can be like me, a big buyer of books, with a Kindle, who has a Mac and doesn’t know how to crack DRM, who will just wait until this is either resolved or McMillan discovers how to sell mobi without DRM that doesn’t cost more than 9.99. Because unless it’s Pratchett, I don’t want any adult books in hard copy. nd if my Kindle could give me that cover in color, I wouldn’t buy Pratchett in HC either. And unless I can sell it, donate it, or loan it, I won’t pay more than a PB for it unless the PB is not out yet and even then nomore than 9.99.

  2. Kate,

    WOW! Calibre has much improved! Now it can automatically convert for specific devices without having to figure out funky menus and dialogs (and resetting preferences multiple times).

    Calibre runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Sweetness.


    I have no idea what to think anymore about the ongoing, ah, debate, so to speak. I do think that things shouldn’t have reached this point, but on the other hand, as Nick Mamatas, a man of great wisdom, points out, business is business.

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