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5/13/2009
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Amazon Lets Bloggers Sell Blog Subscriptions On Kindle

The online retailer keeps 70% of the monthly blog subscription fee and pays 30% to the blog author.

Amazon Kindle DX
(click image for larger view)
Amazon Kindle DX

Amid fears that journalism will die as the newspaper industry collapses, Amazon.com is making a bet on blogs.

A week after it introduced the Kindle DX, a new large-format electronic reading device, Amazon on Wednesday rolled out Kindle Publishing for Blogs, a self-publishing service that facilitates the sale of blog subscriptions through the Kindle Store.

Kindle Blogs get delivered automatically throughout the day over the Kindle's wireless connection. Because they're downloaded completely, rather than as the excerpts often made available through RSS feeds, they can be read with or without a wireless connection.

Amazon doesn't specify how frequently these updates occur, and an Amazon official wasn't immediately available to clarify the issue.

Amazon keeps 70% of the monthly blog subscription fee and pays 30% to the blog author, a deal slightly worse than the 35% royalty it offers self-published authors through its BookSurge subsidiary and considerably worse than the 70% royalty that Apple offers to developers who sell iPhone and iPod apps through iTunes.

Amazon also doesn't allow bloggers to set the price at which they wish to sell blog subscriptions: The company reserves the right to determine the sale price "based on what we deem is a fair value for customers." Amazon provides no information about how it determines that value. At present, all of the blogs available appear to be priced either at 99 cents or $1.99 per month.

Hacks take note: Even the most execrable prose is worth something. Amazon won't let bloggers offer subscriptions for free, though it exempts itself from that rule. Having seen the newspaper industry offer its content online at no charge and suffer for it, Amazon appears to be determined to save writers from self-impoverishing generosity.

If it's to do that, however, Amazon will have to deal with Internet-capable mobile phones, through which blogs and other online content can be read without payment, excluding monthly mobile phone fees.


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