Amazon announced this afternoon that it will be expanding its Kindle Direct Publishing business to support the needs of children’s books authors through a new program it’s calling “KDP Kids.” Along with the program, which is aimed at helping authors prepare, publish and distribute books in the Kindle Store, Amazon is also releasing a new tool, the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator.
This tool will allow budding children’s book authors to create chapter books and illustrated children’s books that are able to take advantage of Kindle features like text pop-ups, explains Amazon in an announcement about the new services. After the book is finalized, authors can also use the tool to upload the book to KDP while also stipulating the category, age and grade range filters needed to get the book listed correctly.
Optionally, KDP Kids authors can also enroll in KDP Select which allows them to earn royalties through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. They would then also have the ability use other marketing tools available to Select authors, like the Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotions.
The book creator tool doesn’t just have to be for new authors looking for a way onto Amazon’s Kindle platform, however, but could also support established authors looking to convert their books into a Kindle format in order to expand their reader base.
The software is available as both a Mac and PC download, and lets chapter book authors import manuscripts in Word (doc/docx), as well as HTML, Mobi, ePub and other formats, so there isn’t much need for additional conversion tools. Meanwhile, illustrated book authors can import files in PDF, PNG, JPG, TIFF, and PPM formats.
“Kids” is now one of many genres KDP supports today, which also includes categories like Literature, Business, Mystery/Thriller, Non-Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi, Teens/Young Adult and more. But children’s books are a potentially growing category for Amazon, as the youngest generation of readers today will be using tablet devices even before their first birthday in many cases, and will be comfortable moving to a digital reading format having never remembered the era where hardbound and paperback books were your only choices for reading.
The announcement comes at a time when Amazon is embroiled in a battle with publisher Hachette, which has put authors – and their readers - in the middle. But it also comes at a time when indie publishing is on the rise, having produced break-out hits (of questionable literary quality) like 50 Shades of Gray. It makes sense that Amazon would want to tap into this growing trend for other genres, too – especially as it markets its own Kindle Fire tablets to families with small children, where features like Kindle Free Time enable safe use of the device among ever-younger users, while other parental controls encourage and rewarding on-device reading.