Sunday, May 19, 2013

WTH is Amazon Doing to My MOBI Files?

As an indie author publishing on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, I have spent the last year working with KDP files and noticed last week that my preview files were doubling in size!  I use Kindle for PC to edit because it helps me see errors simply working with the Word document does not.  Once I finish an edit, I upload it to KDP, save it as a draft, then download the new book preview.  With 13 books in my KDP bookshelf and my inability to edit for more than 3 or 4 significant features at a time, I've done this thousands of times.

The mobi file sizes crept up slowly, which I disregarded for the most part.  But in mid-May, I began noticing them double in size, as well as taking actual minutes to download, instead of mere seconds.  Since I also publish on Smashwords, and they offer mobi files, I ran a comparison of file sizes.

Smashwords file sizes are smaller than the size of the Word document and jpeg cover because they compress the cover; I've complained to them that my huge, beautiful covers look terrible on both my ereader and those of my friends.  Nevertheless, if you will compare Smashwords mobi files to Kindle's new mobi files, you will see they range from 11% to 14% the size of the new Amazon files.

Some significant notes (data in bold):  If I downloaded the Amazon file to any storage besides its regular Kindle Content file, it was smaller.  If I uploaded a new version, the new mobi file doubled in size.  It did not matter if I made content changes or not; see the difference between Dignity and Dynasty, and compare to Nobility (no changes/no new upload):

Mobi File Sizes
Book (Word file + cover)                                                     Kindle                            Smashwords              
Dignity (.480 mb + 3.04 mb = 3.52 mb)
downloaded 5/9/13
downloaded 5/18/13 not to Kindle content file
downloaded 5/18/13 to Kindle content file, after making a few changes / edition 2

4.599 mb
1.537 mb
7.714 mb             
1.114 mb
Majesty (.485 mb + 3.25 mb = 3.735 mb)
7.907 mb
.948 mb
Fealty (.477 mb + 3.23 mb = 3.707 mb)
8.118 mb
1.078 mb
Royalty (.462 mb + 3.43 mb = 3.892 mb)
8.432 mb
1.059 mb
Dynasty (.489 mb + 3.28 mb = 3.769 mb)
downloaded 5/9/13
downloaded 5/18/13 after making no changes in document
downloaded 5/19/13 after uploading file/no changes

4.826 mb
4.826 mb
8.191 mb
1.090 mb
Loyalty (.645 mb + 3.19 mb = 3.835 mb)
8.624 mb
1.398 mb
Evan’s Ladies (.325 mb + 3.14 mb = 3.465 mb)
7.485 mb
Nobility (959 kb + 4.97 mb = 5.929 mb)
downloaded 4/29/13
downloaded 5/18/13 after making no changes, but also not uploaded since 4/29

3.443 mb
3.443 mb

as yet

There is a reason for compiling this information, naturally.  I had uploaded new versions of four of my books and received the confirmation from KDP on Friday, May 17th, 1:12 a.m. that the third book, Fealty, was 'live'.  I kept waiting for confirmation for the fourth book, Dignity, and noticed that not one single sale of ANY of my books registered after that.

Since the magnificent Ricki Wilson had just put up a spotlight on my most recent book, LOYALTY, I was eager to see how much my sales would increase.

9:19 pm 5/16/13
INDIE SPOTLIGHT on LOYALTY, Book Six in Eva Caye's TO BE SINCLAIR Series @EvaCaye 

Not only have I not registered any sales for at least 48 hours, the original tweet has been retweeted 30 times, many more than the usual 2-3 retweets I get.  In addition, I've updated two other marketing sites and discovered a few others, which I've been working on while wondering when Dignity would go live and KDP would start showing new sales.

I emailed KDP and received a response that their technicians were working on it.  Dignity finally went live a couple of hours ago, but I have yet to see any new sales register on the six books I have been selling so far in May.  

What is the issue?  I believe Amazon may be getting too paranoid over ebook sales.  Their restrictive measures annoy everyone, for you are unable to transfer your book to any other device.  In addition, I've read about a number of other problems people have had with their ebooks, such as having them disappear completely, or the indie publisher finding out she 'owes' for some bizarre instance in which the book was updated, the previous purchasers notified, and instead of just being able to download the new version, they charge the author for those new downloads.

One of my many complaints with Amazon is that I cannot have a Kindle for PC account separate from my husband's Kindle account on our same PC.  As a result, if I buy an ebook from Amazon, I must assign it to my cloud reader, because it will not download any but my husband's books to our PC unless he deletes his Kindle for PC, and all his books will disappear.  Since the mobi files are doubling in size, I project it is because Amazon is adding new restrictions to what people are allowed to do with their ebooks.

I think Amazon should get a clue!  I would not want 8 meg files filling up a Kindle if I could get 1 meg files from Smashwords, would you?  Of course, my fondest hope is that they quit screwing around with mobi files and show me my sales!  I've had more than one author friend tell me they are positive Amazon does not automatically register sales, that they are often hours or even days late.  When the author notes not one book sale WHILE speaking to a friend who is JUST THEN reading aloud from her new ebook, it's pretty obvious.

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