Amazon pops up with Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

kdpkids1New downloadable software from Amazon aims to make it easier for children’s book authors to prepare, publish and promote illustrated and chapter books for the Kindle.

The Kindle Kids’ Book Creator tool includes limited interactive tools that can help authors to build illustrated children’s books using features such as text pop-ups.

After uploading their book to KDP, age and grade range filters can be used to aim the book at the right range of children.

Kindle Senior Vice President Russ Grandinetti says, “Authors want to focus on telling great stories and we want to help them do that. No one should have to be a computer programmer to create a beautiful, illustrated Kindle book for kids.

“Kindle Kids’ Book Creator makes it easy. In addition to helping authors craft their books, we’re helping customers find them with things like age and grade range filters.”

kkcsoft1Some authors have had an early look at KDP Kids. Niki Alling, who has written and illustrated several children’s books, says: “The new Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I was able to create fun pop-ups with ease. I have plans to upgrade my existing children’s books with this new tool, and to use it with future books. I highly recommend it to children’s book authors who want to add some extra fun to their eBooks.”

Children’s author and illustrator Michele Lynn Seigfried says: “As a self-published author, doing all the work myself and being no technical expert, I found this so easy to use. It will definitely save me time and money when I publish my future books.”

Seymour Simon, a children’s science book author, says: “Since I’ve published books for children of all ages, it’s a big plus that the Kindle Store helps parents find books by their kids’ age range.

kkcsoft2The Kindle Kids’ Book Creator software can be downloaded for Mac or Windows at kdp.amazon.com. The Mac version takes up a fairly hefty 581Mb of space on a computer.

My first thought was this could also be a simple way of producing general illustrated ebooks using pop-ups but Amazon says in its FAQs, “Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is for creating illustrated children’s books.”

  • The software accepts source files in jpg, pdf, tiff, png and ppm formats and the final book created will be limited to 650Mb.
  • As the software allows authors to use Kindle-specific features, such as text pop-ups, authors can’t use the tool to produce epub files and also can’t import epubs.
  • Books produced using the program will be compatible with all Kindle Fire tablets, Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone and Kindle Android apps. Books can be previewed by using the integrated previewer in Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Preview support is currently available on the Kindle Fire while support for previewing on Kindle app for iPad and Kindle app for iPhone is coming soon.

I’ve downloaded and run a quick test of the software on a Mac by loading and converting a PDF file and it seems to be a quick and efficient way of producing an illustrated ebook.

Problems of Kindle delivery costs

One of the big problems of illustrated ebooks, however, is that Amazon charges a fee for so-called “delivery costs” based on the file size of an ebook.

This fee is only charged if you’re setting a 70% royalty option, so you can get round it if you opt for 35% payments, but I think it’s an unfair imposition on authors who have spent time and money on producing books and the fee is holding back the development of the illustrated ebook market.

The charge amounts to $0.15 per Megabyte in the US and £0.10 in the UK, which might not seem a lot, but if you have an ebook file size of 15Mb, which is easily achieved with a well illustrated ebook, then the author/publisher ends up paying $2.25 or £1.50 just to have the book delivered to Amazon’s customer.

This is a substantial amount to pay on an ebook and basically amounts to almost the equivalent of print cost, so it’s either loaded on to the book price, making illustrated books more expensive, or borne by the author/publisher, who gets no incentive to produce a good illustrated book.

It’s worth remembering that even non-illustrated ebooks are often hit with a delivery charge as the cover of a book is taken into account when assessing the file size.

Amazon encourages authors to provide quality covers and has been raising its requirements in this area, now saying, “For best quality, your image would be 2820 pixels on the shortest side and 4500 pixels on the longest side.” Depending on the nature of the cover picture, those dimensions could work out at a very big file, especially if you upload a Tiff file rather than a Jpeg.

Amazon isn’t short of server space and bandwidth, so I can only think this delivery charge is designed to rein in unfeasibly large files. While it might be an understandable plan to discourage ebooks amounting to several Gigabytes, there is no reason to penalise more reasonable sizes of, say, 20Mb-50Mb, and I think Amazon should consider setting a free delivery limit of, say, 50Mb.

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