For the past few years, Amazon has been transitioning the way it sells eBooks. A few years ago, you could purchase the standardized Adobe eBook with all formatting intact (graphs, tables, graphics, photos, footnotes, endnotes, and general “pretty-ness”) from Then they slowly moved such books over to their eStore.

Now Amazon has taken the Kindle Store to a whole new level. However, are the books you get from the Kindle Store as good as books in print? Though the Kindle is fully capable of reading PDFs (Adobe eBooks), even with the ability to highlight, note, etc., the Kindle Store refuses to sell Adobe eBook formats. This begs the question, why?

Well, let’s do some math. For years Indie authors and vanity publishers have used Ingram Digital for distribution of Adobe eBooks. The minimum discount through Ingram Digital is 25%. That’s 5% to Ingram and 20% to Amazon and other retailers. decided it makes a lot more money on print books (40-50%), so why should it give up that income on eBooks? So Amazon made a new rule. All Indie and vanity publishers must use their special Kindle Direct system to send eBooks in the “approved format” for Kindle. And their commission for each book sale is now 30%. Not only are they asking for 5% more than Ingram Digital, but they want Ingram’s 5% share, too. So why wouldn’t Amazon want 10% more revenue? I guess they aren’t making enough money off everything else they sell, from mac ‘n cheese to iPads.

“OK,” you say, “so I have to go through the Kindle Direct system to get my eBook in the Kindle Store.  So what?” you ask. Let me ask you a question: Did you pay a book designer to lay out the interior of your book so it looks nice, pleasing to the eye, easy to read? Do you have graphics and photos that enhance the reader’s experience? Well, if you go through the Kindle Store, you can say goodbye to all that special formatting you just dropped a few thousand dollars on. In fact, if you want it to look even remotely close to the original print book’s design, with headings and subheadings, italics and bold all in the right places, now you have to pay an additional $500 or so to a company that can take your print PDF and re-format it so those styles stay intact. And there’s no guarantee your graphics and charts will stay in place. All of this additional expense to Indie authors is so the Kindle Store can have the eBook monopoly and make an extra 10%.

Most of my current authors write non-fiction, so formatting, layout, graphics, charts, and the like are very important to their readers’ experience. My question to Amazon is, if the Kindle can read PDF files just fine, why does the Kindle Store refuse to sell Adobe eBook formats? If it means having to distribute Ingram Digital books, the answer is clear: it all comes down to money.

In the meantime, if you want your book to stay “pretty” and give a better reading experience to your audience, you can still get the Adobe eBook format distributed to all of the following online retailers. And you can download straight to your Kindle through the web browser.

BookSense / American Booksellers Association (ABA)
Diesel eBooks (Tools of the Shade, LLC)
Publisher Services Inc. (MBS)
Campus eBooks (Denmark)
The Book Depository (UK)
TookBook (Croatia) (South Africa)
Kobo Books (Canada)
Saraiva e Siciliano (Brazil)
Fishpond (New Zealand / Australia),
DMC / The Copia
EC Media International (India)
The PocketBook USA
Tradebit (Germany)
Infibeam (India)
Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.


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