Amazon, You Burn My Feathers
We're living in Bezo's amazong world. And it's burning.
So, once again, I wanted to talk about Amazon—specifically it's Kindle Create app.
On the one hand, what Amazon has done—brought print-on-demand to EVERYONE—is, frankly, amazing. Never before in the history of humankind could (almost) anyone take something they've written and turn it into a physical book. Of course, the credit doesn't go to Amazon alone, but they've had an enormous part in standardizing and popularizing the process. You can literally go from a Word doc on your computer to a physical BOOK within a week. This is nothing short of incredible.
And not only that, if you don't even care about having a physical copy, you can crank out an ebook and (in theory) distribute it world-wide within a day. To Gutenberg and Franklin and all those printers of yore, this would have a monumental feat and achievement. It is.
Yet, as with every new technology, the wonder starts to wear off and quite soon after the tech is introduced, we come to take that tech for granted. We come to expect the tech. And when that starts to happen, we start to complain.
Now, on the one hand, such a behavior can seem immature. "I'm performing magic," you could imagine Amazon saying, "and you whine about it." And, in a certain sense, our griping is immature and childish.
However, on the other hand, what also happens soon after tech is made available is that we become a slave to it. Just think about how much time you spend on your phone. Just look around at a coffee shop. Or, hell, the other day I was at a restaurant and everyone at the table was on their phone—they weren't even talking to each other! Or, think about how the car has changed our landscape. Minus Central Park, gone are the trees and forests and plains of Manhattan. Instead of valleys of wild flowers, we have I-95 and parking garages. Our reality has conformed to the car. We have conformed to the car ... the clock ... the phone ... the computer ... In essence, despite how incredible the tech is, as a people, we quickly absorb it and then become beholden to that tech. And, sometimes, we live our entire lives around it (like the laptop I'm currently typing on).
Which is all to say this: As relatively easy as Amazon has made self-publishing and as helpful as they try to be, Kindle Create as an application is a pain in the ass.
For example, rather than allow you to modify formatting for the document as a whole, you have to modify the text ONE PARAGRAPH AT A TIME. Again, "self" publishing, incredible, but I just spent the last who-knows-how-many-hours laying out the text of the book we're currently translating into Spanish.
Now, KDP tells you to make all your changes in your original doc (i.e., your Word doc because that's the only file Kindle Create will accept). But then, in the very next breath, they also tell you that Kindle Create has a hard time transferring formatting—indents, margins, text fonts, etc. Which, again, sometimes means that you have to format a paragraph at a time! And, God forbid that you find some mistake in the doc that you have to go back to the original alter (to then transfer the file again—meaning you have to restart all your formatting from scratch), God forbid that happens to you halfway through formatting a two-hundred page book (happened to me TWICE), because you will need to start your marathon ALL OVER AGAIN.
Again, it's hard to complain about something so literally fantastic. AND YET, I have become a slave to the application they have created for me to upload our books on. I have become a slave to Medium (its advantages and dis-). I have become a slave to Wix blog and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. And the obvious counterargument is, "You are not a slave. You have a choice." But the counter-counter is this: as someone trying to start up a publishing company in 2019, do I really?
If the knights of medieval times could've fought with uzis and hand grenades and drones, they would have. But, especially we non-inventors, we tech noobs, we are constrained by the tech we are forced to use. And, in this case, my constraint, my yoke, the quickly becoming bane of my existence (hyperbole, sure, but whatevs) is Amazon KDP's Kindle Create.
What a wonderful nightmare.
Toho Publishing aims to be the best independent publisher out there, and we’re publishing Andrés Cruciani’s first novel. Join us (and him) on all the things: Facebook, Twitter, Medium, YouTube, and Instagram.