Amazon introduces KDP Kids and Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

Amazon introduces KDP Kids and Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

I remember when people would argue that children’s (pre-teen) books were always going to be better on paper than in e-book form.

Certainly, tactile input processing is different in children than in adults.

When you look at the Kindle store book bestsellers (as I often do), you don’t see that many books for kids at the top (although it does happen).

Well, looks like Amazon would like to change that.

In this

press release

Amazon announces a new book publishing venture…KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for Kids:

There have pretty much always been independently published kids books in the Kindle store (since it’s been open), but this is something different.

It gives you the tools to make digital pop ups…and apparently, quite easily, based on the blurbs they have.

Of course, the market for fancy illustrated books is really for the

Kindle Fire (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

rather than the non-Fire Kindles…when you are talking illustrations (and animations) there is no comparison.

However, this publishing will also let people put age and grade levels on their books, which will help even if it is more text-based.

I’m a bit curious about that: can anybody just pick whatever they want?

Age and grade levels can be very tricky.

When our now adult kid was, oh, six or so, they were reading at a much higher level. The school librarian gave our kid a Goosebumps book…nightmare city! The reading level was more appropriate, but the material wasn’t. That’s what I mean by it being tricky.

There are 163,828 children’s books in the USA Kindle store right now…I suspect we may see that grow pretty rapidly.

I have no question that this is a plus for the authors. I think it will also be a plus for the readers…and since this is part of KDP, it ought to bump up the options for kids using

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is Amazon’s $9.99 “all you can read” subser (subscription service).

If Amazon isn’t figuring out a simple way to gift memberships in KU for the holidays, they will really be missing a chance.

This may also sell more Kindle Fires, and possibly the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and even the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There is a Kindle app for the former and not for the latter…but you could mirror a Kindle Fire to a Fire TV, and they may work out an app for books.

Would you read a book on a TV?

I could certainly see reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or a Dr. Seuss book to a room full of kids!

I don’t think the people at Amazon are anti-p-book (paperbook), but it’s better for their business model to promote e-books. P-book distribution is still largely under the control of tradpubs (traditional publishers) and brick and mortar stores, although e-tailing is probably moving up (and will move up more in a hurry if Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million collapse).

If your kid is reading color, slightly animated e-books on a Kindle Fire through Kindle Unlimited, it really commits you much more deeply to Amazon.

Then, maybe you become a Prime member (free month with that Kindle Fire…free year with that Fire phone). Once you’ve done that, you start buying the higher margin physical items from Amazon (or third parties fulfilled through Amazon) and the big A can start making a profit…without raising e-book prices all that much.

They haven’t been raising the e-book prices generally…except for the New York Times bestseller hardback equivalents, which have shot up an extraordinary amount this year, based on my Snapshots.

Let me ask this, though: do you still have p-books you got as a child? I do. I think a lot of people do…cherished (often “well-used”) parts of youth. That won’t quite be the same with digital kids’ books. 😉

What do you think? Have you always had an idea for a kids’ book…and now you think you might be able to do it? Is there anything that worries you about this? For example, could people with fringe or anti-social ideas use this to reach children? Publishers get to choose their own categories…would someone publish the Kama Sutra (maybe with teddy bears) through KDP Kids? If you could easily gift KU to a kid this holiday season, do you think you would do that? Do books like this pose any threat to the continuance of the non-Fire Kindles? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



7 Responses to “Amazon introduces KDP Kids and Kindle Kids’ Book Creator”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    The authoring tools are very easy to use. But that is part of the problem: the format doesn’t offer much in the way of creative possibilities, and it does not support ‘accessibility’ (TTS, multimedia etc). ePub3 FXL is perhaps a little too complicated but at least it is not nearly as limiting. It baffles me why the industry could not have just have converged on PDF or some subset thereof. It’s a mature technology and they are very easy to create as part of a normal publishing workflow.

    Moreover the file sizes (for both Kindle and ePub3 FLX) are huge. It used to be KDP limited submissions to 50MB, but I could not find a reference to that on the KDP portal. It actually states that you can upload up to 650MB to the conversion service, so maybe that restriction is gone now (after all publishers pay a ‘delivery fee’ depending on the size of download). Again, PDF can include vector graphics which are resolution independent and tend to be much smaller than equivalent rasterized images (which is what fixed layout books are for the most part).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Good info, as always!

      TTS (text-to-speech) doesn’t need to be added to something…it is automatically available, as long as there is text which it can interpret. Maybe that’s why there is no option for it? Alternatively, maybe this can only take the books as a series of images, which can’t be read by the text-to-speech…

      The industry doesn’t settle on everybody using the same thing, typically, if the same thing is owned by one entity (Adobe, in the case of PDF). Just as people are shy about Amazon getting too much control, driving them to go with a smaller competitor (like Oyster or Scribd, for example), they wouldn’t want it to be that Adobe could simply quadruple licensing fees at will and everybody would be with stuck with it. Look how much heat Amazon has taken because Adobe elected not to support Flash on mobile devices!

  2. Kari M Says:

    I had to laugh when I read about your then 6-year-old being given a Goosebumps book! My son was reading Goosebumps books at age 5, and we were called into the counselor’s office right as he was entering first grade. She asked if he had read them because of older children in the home (he’s an only child). Then she said she had talked to him and decided that it was no problem because he told her they weren’t real, just made-up stories, and not very good ones either because the plots were always the same. That’s when he skipped a grade — and he was much happier.

    To this day and he’s finishing up a master’s degree, he discusses books — plots, characters, etc.

    But I don’t think he would have enjoyed ebooks as a child. He doesn’t like them as well as paper books now.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kari!

      Your son sounds great! 🙂

      I’m not sure it’s a question of being able to separate fiction from fact…I don’t think my kid actually expected to be burned alive in the bedroom because of what happened in the beginning of the book. I think it depends on…empathy, and how you integrate what you read. I get emotional with some things I read or see, but my Significant Other used to confess to “crying at Kodak commercials”. 🙂

      My adult kid also prefers p-books to e-books…that may be a Millenial thing, don’t know. However, if e-books is all they had as a child, I think they would have enjoyed them just as much as p-books. The enjoyment of the p-book is, I think, in part nostalgia.

      • Kari M Says:

        I wonder if children really do prefer e-books over p-books or if it’s the parents. I’m thinking mostly of me. When my son was little, we were always carting around 5-7 books anytime we went anywhere and then we had to keep track of them. An e-reader at that time would have made things easier.

        I’m thinking that the tactile, fine-motor skills would be important, and pushing a button to change the page requires a different skill than turning a more fragile paper page. I think I would want any child to have access to both as I think the brain would be trained differently.

  3. tuxgirl Says:

    When I was really young, my mom used to read books ahead of me. That didn’t last as long as she intended since I started to get into the pile of books she was going to read for me before she got to them.

    I’m starting to worry about how I will handle this with the munchkin. She’s nearing 5 and can read chapter books to me with just a little help with unfamiliar words. So far, she’s not an urgent reader — I have to encourage her to read to me — but I know that once she gains some more confidence, we are going to be struggling with the reading level vs emotional maturity issue.

    Just the other day, she made a comment implying that she believes that anything in a book or story is factual. Go figure.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tuxgirl!

      Good to hear from you!

      Yes, it’s an interesting issue…reading level versus “emotional maturity”. I think letting kids find their own level can work very well. In the case of the Goosebumps book, it was recommended…and since it was borrowed, there was a disincentive to simply abandon it. If our kid had been doing self-directed browsing, I don’t that’s a book which would have been chosen.

      As to fact versus fiction in a book…that’s a problem Watson (IBM’s artificial intelligence that played on Jeopardy) had. They had Watson read everything in Project Gutenberg, as I recall, but then the issue becomes not believing what Tom Sawyer says about astronomy as truth. They solved that, and what Watson eventually had that other computer systems didn’t do at all well, was a sense of how “right” it was. Watson correlates other people’s confidence in a fact (perhaps by tallying academic citations), and then applies it to its own “guesses”.

      I had a fascinating experience when I was teaching drama at a vocational education camp for inner city kids. I think they were 11 to 13 years old. These were very bright kids: they could pick up Shakespeare pretty easily, for example.

      However, I ran into startling gaps in their education. They didn’t know what planets were (they understood the fictional existence of other planets as places, but didn’t know we were on one)…and they believed that dinosaurs were as fictional as dragons. It did make me wonder about the schools which they had attended…how was the teaching made relevant to them?

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