It seems there is an anomaly with publishing ebooks for free download on the Kindle platform at present: some publishers are allowed to publish free ebooks, others are not. Just today, I came across a number of books that were being offered as free downloads and I decided to test the process. I managed to order and download one of these free books and subsequently received the Amazon invoice for $0.
Now, initially, this delighted me because I have been providing free ebooks to my site visitors for the past six years, before the Kindle was a twinkle in the eye of the Amazon world. I would love to be able to make all of my free books (at present, about 100 or so) available for free download on the Kindle. However, my account does not permit me to do this. The minimum price I can set for my books is 99 cents. I have asked the question of Amazon/Kindle and they have told me that I am unable to provide my books as free downloads from their store.
Well, of course, it is their store so they get to set the rules. However, there is a little problem that I have tried to make them aware of and, so far, they don’t seem to be very interested. The thing is that my free books all include distribution rights of some kind. Some of them even permit people to resell the material. However, as I said, this was all setup before the Kindle was invented.
It turns out that people are indeed selling my books on the Kindle. I don’t mind that too much, but I do mind them making such a bad job of it and I also mind that the Kindle site does not seem to be interested in helping me to sort things out to that their customers get a fair deal and, at very least, a well-formatted publication.
Here are the problems we face with respect to this issue:
1. Some Kindle Account Holders have named me author – erroneously
2. Some Kindle Account Holders have named me as co-author – erroneously
3. Our Books have been converted very badly to Kindle format
4. The 3D effect covers do not render properly on the Kindle
The books in the White Dove Books site were not all written by me. The ones that were have my name on the cover and acknowledge me as the author in the text. I never put my own name on a book I did not write. So I object to these books being sold on Amazon/Kindle falsely naming me as the author. Perhaps the Kindle Publishing wizard needs to ask a question to the effect: do you have the right to use the names you are providing as author?
Second, some of the people who uploaded our free material decided to add themselves as an author and name me as a co-author. In addition to being expressly prohibited in the Statement of Rights, this is plain unethical. Again, why some people seem to think they can do what they want with material they obtain for free is beyond me. However, again, the Kindle wizard needs to ask something like: if this work is not your own original work, can you confirm you are operating within the terms of the publisher’s distribution agreement?
Thirdly, the free books we provide are in PDF format and were designed to be read on a PC, not a Kindle. When viewed on a Kindle device, the formatting is terrible. If account holders choose to submit PDF materials, rather than using Word or HTML format, then the resultant output in Kindle is plain aweful. If account holders do not have the source material, there is probably a very good reason i.e. they are unlikely to be the originators of the work. They may not be breaking copyright, but by providing a poor reader experience, neither Amazon/Kindle not the person who uploaded the material are doing anyone any favours.
Lastly, the covers we use at our site were created for display on a website, not for uploading to the Kindle. The Kindle platform automatically adds a 3D effect to a flat cover. Since our covers are already 3D, the double rendering of the cover makes the image look very poor. Again, the reason that a contributor does not have the flat image is very likely because they are not the originators of the work. By using a 3D effect image, rather than a flat graphic, the resultant cover, rendered to Kindle looks terrible. Again the customer experience is very poor indeed.
The above issues are serious in my opinion. Not only are Amazon customers receiving a very poor deal being sold books that they could easily download for free from our site, but they are also receiving badly formatted publications. This is because none of our books were formatted for the Kindle platform, but for reading on a PC. Of course, I have already raised these issues with Kindle, on two separate occasions already; and have written to them for a third time today.
So far, the responses I have received have not attempted to engage with the problem, neither have they properly considered the solution I proposed which was to allow me to provide my free books for free download on the Kindle. The reason I would like to offer my books as a free download on the Kindle platform is specifically so that the above issues could be addressed for the benefit of THEIR customers.
This solution would help because:
1. People would be less likely sell free books on Kindle
2. The formatting issues could all be properly addressed
Unfortunately, the response I received said that it was not possible to offer books as free downloads via the Kindle Store. However, this again turns out to be wrong. I note that some ebooks are indeed offered as free downloads. As I mentioned, I have just obtained one from the Kindle Store today. A little Googling reveals that others are asking the same question i.e. why is Amazon/Kindle apparently allowing some publishers to publish their books on Kindle for free?
Personally, I am amazed that Amazon/Kindle do not seem to want to deal with this matter. The replies I have received have been prompt and courteous, but did not address the issue or help me at all. I expect that my free books are not the only ones that have been uploaded to the Kindle store for resale. What amazes me the most is that I had thought that a company like Amazon/Kindle would be very interested in the customer experience and putting these things right. As the popularity of the Kindle increases, this is an issue they do really need to get properly sorted out.