Deciding Whether to Sell Your E-Book at Amazon

The books that Amazon sells on its site are formatted as AZW files, a proprietary format that’s based on MOBI and used on the Kindle. You cannot sell an AZW file from your own site or any site other than Amazon. To cater to Kindle users and bypass Amazon, you can create a MOBI file using Calibre and sell it on your own website. (See Chapter 8 for instructions for using Calibre, and see Chapter 12 for help with selling from your site.) Kindle users can send MOBI files to their devices by e-mail or by plugging the Kindle into their computer and transferring the file via USB cable.

The main benefit of having your e-book available on Amazon, however, isn’t simply to provide Kindle readers with a file format that works for them — it’s to benefit from having the biggest book-buying audience in the world. When readers browse the web for a new e-book to read, they’re likely to head straight to Amazon (rather than search at Google). Unless your e-book is available on Amazon, they won’t be able to find it.

Of course, for a few reasons, you might not want to make your e-book available on Amazon. Perhaps it costs more than $9.99, and you’ll therefore receive only 35 percent royalties — and a few disgruntled readers. Or perhaps you have personal or political reasons for choosing not to join forces with Amazon.

If your main objection concerns the 70 percent royalty rate (you may feel that Smashwords offers a better deal, or you may want to sell ...

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