Amazon has a new tool for its Kindle Direct Publishing authors, via a new KDP EDU wing of the same aimed at educators and academic institutions. It’s called the Kindle Textbook Creator, and it lets authors prepare electronic textbooks for students, for publication across Fire tablets, Android devices, iPhones and iPads, Mac and PCs. It’s kind of like iBooks Author for Apple and iTunes U, but it uses PDFs of existing texts as a starting point and offers over-the-top digital features for Kindle-based consumption.
Kindle Textbook Creator seems designed for speed, and for working with the legacy textbook publishing industry, as opposed to iBooks Author which is more designed to help educators build digital-native experiences from scratch. Books built with Amazon’s new tool offer multi-color highlighting for students, as well as built-in notebooks, flashcards for review, dictionaries, and of course multi-platform support, in addition to translating the PDF version of their document into something that works on any reader.
The standard economics of KDP apply with the new EDU publishing arm, meaning authors earn royalties ranging up to 70 percent depending on options, and keep control of the rights related to their content. KDP EDU titles are also eligible for Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, as well as marketing features including Amazon’s free book promotions.
The EDU Textbook Creator seems fairly simple in its current form, but Amazon says it will continue to add features as time goes on, so don’t be surprised if tools for educators get a lot more sophisticated eventually. For now, it’s a concession to the legacy educational publishing industry that also seems to want to encourage more self-publishing efforts by educational professionals and authors. Apple’s iBooks Author tool tries to convince educators to go digital-first, while Amazon’s says bring whatever you’ve already got to the table to help us expand our education market reach.