Need ideas: Selling a lite version of our eBook on Amazon


We are in the process of creating an eBook. Now we are contemplating to release this ebook in two versions, full and lite. 'Lite' version would be created to reach the extensive Amazon audience. The reasons we are not willing to sell our 'full' version from Amazon are -

1) We won't be creating the full version in pdf or word format (piracy concerns) rather it will be a flash file stored behind our secured website. Also, as per our understanding Amazon doesn't allow any digital version other than ePub (Kindle's proprietary format)
2) Amazon keeps about 65% revenue on every ebook sold.

Lite version will contain highlights from the full version and will be available at a fraction of a cost. At places within this lite version, we plan to put promos(ads) of the full version so that people can 'upgrade' to the full version.

Do you think this would be a good approach? or can we make our approach better? Any ideas would be appreciated.


asked Feb 26 '11 at 23:20
Ankur Jain
566 points
  • Have you ever heard of anyone else selling access to a flash file as a book? That would be a hard sell to me. – Steve French 13 years ago
  • @Stronico: I'm sure it won't if I show you how I set up my flash file :) We have tested it for our case and the format works pretty well. – Ankur Jain 13 years ago

6 Answers


I think in this situation piracy is your friend. Tony Hsieh gave away free copies of his book delivering happiness which was sent out by amazon. I think even with free copies it counts as a sale. Your sales go up, and you have a BESTSELLER. Then you stop giving away the free ones and make up your losses on free copies.

Free pdf. Give the full version.
I think other than that its JUST A HALF ASS MARKETING SCAM.
Trust me, if its in PDF you will find it on sites like Emrace it.

I personally think all literature should be free, and if appreciated then purchased.

answered Mar 2 '11 at 08:13
2,079 points


Are you sure about the rev share? As of 2011 there is a 35% and a 70% program.

That said, you can also create a "lite" version by using the kindle singles avenue. Also, Amazon now allows kindle subscribers to "loan" books to friends for a short time - expanding your reach beyond a single purchase.

The "flash behind a protected site" approach is late '90's and I doubt it would work today - you can create a site with updates, and work towards a web based upsell product by embedding links in the ebook if you'd like.

answered Mar 3 '11 at 14:08
Jim Galley
9,952 points
  • We don't qualify for 70 % program hence I said 65% in my OP above. Amazon Singles sounds good. The niche we are in is very much prone to piracy and plagiarism. We won't mind if the 'lite' version gets copied/distributed, we are even ready to give it for free but we can't afford to let loose our full version on the net. – Ankur Jain 13 years ago
  • Are you sure you don't qualify for the 70% program? For my (our) education, what disqualifies you from going with the 70% program? – Jim Galley 13 years ago
  • My company is incorporated in India and not under the 70% territory "Canada, United Kingdom (including Guernsey, Jersey, and Isle of Man), United States" as mentioned on the link you provided above. – Ankur Jain 13 years ago
  • ok - but according to the program guidelines, i. The 70% Royalty Option is only applicable to SALES TO CUSTOMERS of the 70% Territories listed below. I don't think the location of the book writer comes into play here - and I'm making the assumption that the books audience isn't limited to India. – Jim Galley 13 years ago
  • Oh yes. I somehow misread that part. Thanks jimg for pointing that out. (btw Most audience will be from US, UK and India.) – Ankur Jain 13 years ago


I like your notion of a freemium book.

A unique approach maybe to adopt some of the strategies from In short, the approach is focused on college textbooks. Registered users can browse for free online and pay to take the book offline. There are also a number of additional payment triggers built in (study aids for example). The content may have a longer tail to its value since pieces of content can be remixed or excerpts for future curricula. I don't know the contents of your book, but hope you can find this to be relevant.

Appears that 'A Child al Confino' has had recent success on Amazon with a short-term promotion as a free book. I don't know if they experimented with a lite version, but maybe a case study you dig deeper on...

answered Mar 2 '11 at 04:35
431 points


O'Reilly does or did something like this. They they included a long introduction of each chapter and then described what the reader was missing. I would like to come with one idea for inspiration. You could include ALL sections in the book so the Lite version has the same length as the Full version. You could just replace sections with something like:

*** ***** **** ****** 4% ***** **** * ******* ** *** ** 20th ** ***** 1998 *****

Meaning that numbers are kept, but the text is missing. This will clearly show the reader what he/she is missing, and make them curious. Because it is an eBook, it does not matter that you ship a lot of info that is useless. I would also include all figures and graphs.
answered Feb 26 '11 at 23:48
1,567 points
  • Thanks David. That is something to ponder. Do you have any idea whether Amazon will allow a text on product page like "This is a lite version of our eBook sold on This lite version contains x pages out of the total of x+y we have in the full version." – Ankur Jain 13 years ago
  • Sorry, I have no idea about that. If you get into trouble, you could consider calling it something different than Light and Full, but rather Handbook and Extended Edition or something like that, which should not be a problem, as I believe it is already done today. Such labelling will be confusing to the customers, though. If you need to make it into Handbook and Extended edition, then you might need to make tags instead saying ("300 missing words", just with a nicer label). – David 13 years ago
  • Personally this would really piss me off. If I pay for information , I expect to get it, not pages full of blanks. If however it was marketed as a condensed version (or whatever you want to call it) I think that is honest and I would have no problems with that. Trying to sell information can be a tough gig. I think you need a robust business model behind it such as add on services or products. – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • @Susan Jones. Of course, I expected the version with the blanks to be free as an appetizer where one also can see what one is missing. I did not specify this, and I understand that you would get pissed off. – David 13 years ago


eReader requires you credit card # to be used as a password. Usually people won't pass this on to 'share' with others.

I know 65% using Amazon seems high, but you may end up selling more books (You would have to do the math to decide.). You didn't mention who your readers are, so I don't know if being available on Kindle is a benefit.

Not knowing what your book is about or who would read it, are you being too concerned with piracy?

Put out the light version and get some feedback on what people are willing to pay for in a full version.

If I have to go to your site to read the book (I'm not familiar with the technology you propose.), I'm out.

answered Mar 2 '11 at 04:08
Jeff O
6,169 points


You want to profit from easily distributing your knowledge, but without giving away that knowledge in a form that can be readily distributed.

Sounds like a fool's errand. The more hoops you make your customers jump through, the more they'll resent you for it. It just makes it easier for a competitor to offer a comparable product with less hassle.

Your fear of plagiarism and piracy is misguided. Use piracy to your advantage, to distribute your work to many and use that reputation to sell something more tangible.

If all a customer needs is this knowledge and nothing further from you, there will eventually be an outlet where this information can be acquired for free. Fighting that is a waste of time.

answered Mar 5 '11 at 07:33
230 points

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