It’s almost two years since Amazon allowed mainstream publishers to upload ebooks to the Kindle store in five Indian languages: Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, and Malayalam.
Indie authors writing in those languages were put in the ridiculous position of having to upload to Amazon via a third party aggregator to get slice of the action.
Amazon’s KDP guidelines are quite clear about what will or will not be accepted in the Kindle store.
Authors and publishers can upload and sell books with content and metadata written in the languages listed below. Content uploaded in languages that Kindle doesn’t support won’t display properly on Kindle devices and will be removed from sale.
In fact the five Indian languages were slipped onto the supported list a while ago, but only this week did Amazon make the official announcement, reported widely on the sub-continent.
To be clear, the support is only for ebooks. Despite CreateSpace being rolled into KDP as KDP Print, indie authors will not be able to make or list paperbacks for Amazon POD distribution in the Indian languages, nor in Arabic which is also limited to ebooks only.
The list also includes Japanese as ebook only despite Japanese being offered by KDP Print (but not the old CreateSpace). As so often happens, it appears not all Amazon departments are on the same page.
Anyway, here’s the “official” list of KDP-supported languages as of this morning.
|Arabic (eBook only)||Galician||Nynorsk Norwegian|
|Bokmål Norwegian||Gujarati (eBook only)||Provençal|
|Breton||Hindi (eBook only)||Romansh|
|Danish||Japanese (eBook only)||Swedish|
|Dutch/Flemish||Luxembourgish||Tamil (eBook only)|
|Eastern Frisian||Malayalam (eBook only)||Welsh|
|Finnish||Marathi (eBook only)|
The list looks impressive at first glance, but actually if we set aside Afrikaans, Arabic, Japanese and the Indian languages we are left with languages indigenous to western Europe, many of which have speaker numbers in the low thousands (Norther Frisian 10,000 speakers, for example, or Manx which Wikipedia says has just 1,200 speakers).
Amazon has for many year now stated on its website that,
Our goal is to have every book, ever published, in any language available for Kindle customers to purchase and begin reading in less than 60 seconds.
Mainstream publishers do have some options indies don’t – Chinese, for example – but by and large it looks like that snippet from the AuthorCentral pages was written in a bygone era when Amazon perhaps seriously did see the Kindle’s global potential.
Sadly there’s no sign that’s still the case.
This “unsupported languages” nonsense is probably *the* single most stupid thing about KDP taking over CreateSpace. Why is it even a problem for them to print a PDF that’s in another language when the fonts are embedded? I can certainly understand the technical problems for a Kindle book, but it makes no sense whatsoever for paperback.
I have a client left flapping in the wind as a result of this transition because his books are in English and Chinese (each book contains both). Yes, we can run things through IngramSpark, and do, but wow, what a pain in the ass… and less profit for him. Another author-publisher I heard about had dozens of Turkish books doing wonderfully for him using CreateSpace, but now he can’t update them.
Perhaps worst, though, is that — a full six-plus months after this “transition” — KDP still is not providing a word about (a) why this problem exists and (b) when they will fix it.