Amazon on Thursday released a tool meant to help educators and writers publish e-textbooks.
It's straightforwardly titled the Kindle Textbook Creator, and it makes it easy to transform PDFs into an e-book format. Plain PDFs are pretty static learning materials, but Amazon says its Textbook Creator offers a simple (and free) way to organize an array of educational materials — graphs, equations, charts or anything else you might find in a textbook.
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Textbooks created with the platform will also give readers a variety of Kindle tools to take advantage of. There's a multicolor highlighting tool, a notebook feature to capture key passages, a dictionary/Wikipedia lookup function, and flashcards. Once readers buy the Kindle textbook, they can read it on all sorts of devices, like Amazon's Kindles, of course, as well as iPads, iPhones or Android devices.
This is all part of a new education-oriented spinoff of Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing division, which allows authors to self-publish. Another division of KDP, for example, is KDP Kids, which helps self-publishing children's book authors.Amazon hopes to draw in educators by highlighting the promotional opportunities
Amazon hopes to draw in educators by highlighting the promotional opportunities of using the Kindle Textbook Creator. As Amazon puts it, KDP EDU users will have the benefit of "Amazon's powerful marketing tools and global reach."
Textbook authors will have the opportunity to keep up to 70% of book royalties, according to Amazon, all while keeping control of the content they're shelling out. Of course, this isn't all altruistic. Amazon is hoping to attract more self-publishers to KDP so it can get a cut of the profits and bring more users into its Kindle ecosystem. The overall U.S. textbook industry has been estimated to pull in $10 billion annually.
The tool works for Mac and PC, but for now it's only available for download in English.