Amazon Offers Blog Self-Publishing for Kindle

Amazon has opened the Kindle blog delivery service to all blog publishers. If you want to submit your blog to the service, be sure to read and understand Amazon’s "Digital Publication and Distribution Agreement – Blogs and Periodicals." The agreement is presented at a late step in the sign-up process. This agreement grants Amazon quite a lot of control over the distribution of your content, including the authorization to set any pricing that it chooses, to offer your content in any venue, and to aggregate your content at will. The agreement specifically prohibits the use of advertising in your publication. The publisher’s cut is 30% of Amazon’s revenue, and the proceeds are prorated among multiple publishers if the content is aggregated. The publisher can, however, exit the agreement with a 30 day notice to Amazon.

This service appears to be exclusively intended for the publishing of content that exists in typical blog format. However, the Kindle is more suited to the display of narrative-style blogs than to link-centric blogs because the Kindle’s web browser is basic and often problematic.

It appears that Amazon’s terms and service settings would allow a publisher to experiment with the development of a unique-to-Kindle periodical that is delivered as the superset feed of a blog. Such a publication could offer content that is only available in full through a Kindle subscription. However, a big footnote is that Amazon will set the price for the subscription, so this avenue is not yet suitable as an outlet for existing specialty periodicals like newsletters with paid subscribers.

It is not yet clear what controls are in place to prevent "publishers" from gaming the system with hard-to-police pirated content, prevent "publications" that merely aggregate the content of others without permission, or prevent "blogs" that package book-length content in each post. Such potential problems may be among the reasons why Amazon refers to the service as a beta release.

For most blogs, this new Kindle publishing service should be viewed as a way to modestly improve exposure while perhaps covering the cost of an occasional cup of coffee at McDonalds. One publishing strategy that small blogs should consider is to aggregate content with other publishers using a tool like Sam Ruby’s Venus so as to create new publications that are jointly owned and promoted, and that can offer comprehensive coverage of specialty topics at great value for Kindle readers.

As the Kindle publishing service evolves, publishers should encourage Amazon to offer less onerous terms, increase publishers’ share of the revenue, and allow more flexibility in formats and pricing. We suspect that a more Apple-store-like revenue model (perhaps 70% to publisher, 30% to Amazon, with usage-based data delivery costs explicitly funded from the publisher’s share) would invigorate the market and thereby encourage the creation of premium content. That would be good for Amazon, for publishers, and for readers. The service as currently implemented seems unlikely to produce much additional value for anyone.

If you nonetheless want to publish your blog for delivery from the Kindle store, visit Amazon’s Kindle Publishing for Blogs Beta.