Screenshot of Amazon's KDP Bookshelf


Getting To Grips With Ebooks - 3

29th September 2019

The two issues we’ve been trying to get to grips with are linking the physical paperback of Natural Phenomena to the ebook on Amazon’s KDP, and whether or not we can create a KDP paperback for other world areas.


After a couple of days the physical paperback still wasn’t showing up to be linked, and this appears to be something to do with the KDP site being US-based and the physical paperback being on the store. In the end I resorted to an email to Amazon and that was sorted by the next day.


As for the KDP paperback creation, my fear was that Amazon wouldn’t allow me to create one because a physical one existed. To get some answers I joined the KDP community forum on the KDP site and threw the question out there. Turns out it’s not a problem at all, just as long as I hold the publishing rights. So all good. 


What it does mean is formatting another manuscript and cover so the KDP paperback could be created. Amazon want you to base it on 198.4mm x 128.5mm, which is big, much bigger than the physical book we’ve had printed already, and larger than a typical oversized paperback here in the UK. However, after some reading on the site, they do allow you to do other sizes, and one of those sizes is half a millimetre different on height and width of what I’ve already laid out in InDesign. It’s not just a case of reusing the InDesign file though. To be safe I created a duplicate and applied the fractionally different size, made sure the margins and bleed were all within their guidelines, and then applied a fresh ISBN for this Amazon edition. I also altered the folio page and the page we created asking for reviews to make it relevant to an Amazon printed book. 


The cover also needed looking at to ensure it fits their specs. Amazon provide a handy calculator to work out the correct sizing, which is essential for getting the spine the right size. You simply choose your paper and ink from the limited selection on offer, enter your internal page count, and a handy layout diagram is generated with all the sizing in place in both metric and inches. I resized based on this, dropped in a new barcode to reflect the different ISBN, removed any pricing information and was good to go.


All KDP requires is a hi-res PDF with bleed (if you have bleed set) but no crops or other printers marks. You go to your KDP bookshelf, click Create Paperback against the title in question and it pre-populates most of the fields in advance from data you’ve already entered for the ebook. Uploading the PDFs is easy, as is setting your publication price, and you get the opportunity to proof the book digitally. It will highlight any issues it finds, although, fortunately, my PDFs sailed through.


A quick note on pricing, royalties and expectations. If you’ve ever bought print you’ll know that the more units you buy of something the cheaper it is to print. When somebody buys one of something it’s costly to make that single item. That means that on a $9 book Amazon’s getting most of the money, firstly because they deduct the production cost, then they deduct their 40%. I stand to make just over a dollar per book. It doesn’t sound like a great deal, but that’s the price you pay for on-demand printing, and access to a global market that would otherwise be beyond your reach. I don’t think that’s too bad a deal all things considered.


So as of now we’ve got a physical UK paperback plus a global-reaching ebook and on-demand paperback ready for the book’s official release on the first of October.


I’m aware that some orders are in for the ebook so I’m looking forward to finding out how the delivery for those goes, and receiving any feedback. I’ll update this blog thread when there’s some news to report. 

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