Smashwords, iBooks, and Amazon

Oh, distribution is a learning experience. With the ebook files created on Smashwords, I’d checked all the boxes to distribute to Kobo and Amazon’s Kindle and the iBookstore and there is a neat chart about the status of each channel. All the places I was vaguely aware of, but had never used, such as Kobo, sailed right through. iBooks and Amazon stuck, although there was a note Smashwords and Amazon were working on “technical integration”.

Then the file was sent to iBooks and never showed up. After two months, I queried Smashwords and eventually received a response: they’d re-sent the file. And, less than two weeks later, it was up. Which left Amazon.

Amazon has a new ebook program called the Kindle Lending Library, with increased payments to authors and other goodies. The catch: you have to distribute with Amazon exclusively. Since Smashwords’ entire business model creates ebook files in multiple formats for multiple ebook readers they aren’t too happy with this. According to the Smashwords blog Amazon is denying them ‘agency rights’ and there’s your technical issues in a nutshell.

Before I go any further, I should say how much I appreciate Smashwords. They charge an author NOTHING. I followed their clear instructions, created a file, uploaded it to their site, and multiple, correct files came out the other end. There is no obligation to use them for distribution and it’s possible to pick and chose which sources they send your book to.

So I reluctantly un-checked the Amazon box, created an id/password on Kindle Direct Publishing, worked through a few info screens, and uploaded my book to Amazon using their Kindle authoring tool. Naturally, Amazon uses a format no one else does. But it went through without a hitch, as did my cover, and the whole thing took about 20 minutes. I was extremely careful NOT to opt-in to the Kindle Lending Library, which is of course the default, and accepted the lower revenue percentage. It’s always nice to see the knife before the corporation stabs you in the back. So the ebook is “in review” at Amazon and should be available in a day or so. As soon as it goes live I’ll post a link here.

The paperback is also up on Amazon. Lulu was true to their word (“can take 2 months”) and all the data is there. Oddly, the book description lagged by over a day. There is no reason I can see for this, unless Amazon is treating book descriptions as reviews and sending them through a text filter to take out porno. And the price is, crazily, the full retail price of $24.50. I’ve sent them a note trying to get this changed to approximately the Lulu price of $14.70 because I will sell absolutely nothing at hardback prices. Again, I’ll put up a link here when things stabilize.