Amazon launches Kindle textbook tool to compete with iBooks Author

We often think of digital textbooks as being read on iPads, and Apple rolled out iBooks Author, which lets users create textbooks and other interactive ebooks, in 2012. But Amazon, not surprisingly, wants in on the self-published textbook action, and on Thursday launched Kindle Textbook Creator, a beta tool that lets users convert graphics-heavy PDFs into ebooks.

Authors can also add highlighting, flashcards and some other features to the books. Textbook Creator is available for free download on Mac or Windows here.

The tool is only available in English and, according to the FAQ, “textbooks and other content created using Kindle Textbook Creator can only be sold via the Amazon Kindle Store as outlined in Amazon’s Software End User License Agreement.” Apple’s similar rule caused a lot of consternation when iBooks Author launched.

One thing I’m wondering about here is the revenue split. Right now, [company]Amazon[/company] KDP gives authors 70 percent of each sale of ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For books priced higher or lower than that, the author just gets a 35 percent cut — and that’s been the subject of debate recently. It seems as if this revenue structure could especially create problems for textbook authors of textbooks, which often cost more than $9.99; plus, [company]Apple[/company] gives authors a 70 percent split on all books sold through iBooks, no matter what they cost.

Amazon confirmed to me that “the normal KDP royalty structure applies” in this situation but said it is looking for author feedback as well.

Kindle VP Russ Grandinetti suggested at the Digital Book World conference last week that Amazon might consider changing its revenue split for certain types of books, including educational titles: “I think there’s a good argument to be made about whether we should make models for different categories,” he said.

A previous version of this story stated that KDP authors get a 30 percent cut on sales of ebooks priced below $2.99 or above $9.99. The correct figure is 35 percent.