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Self-publishing your book successfully in South Africa is one thing, self-publishing your book as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle is what some would call nearly impossible. But this is just what Dr Bertie du Plessis, author of Don’t lose your pension, did.
Du Plessis is the founder of MindPilot (Pty) Ltd, a strategic communication consultancy to some of South Africa’s leading business leaders and corporations. His blog, Read This! on Fin24, South Africa’s largest business portal, is regularly the most read and most commented.
Du Plessis is the first South African author and publisher who broke through the digital e-book barrier. He originally self-published his book through Crink, a publishing consultancy within On the Dot Innovations and the larger Media24 group. Fulfilment of printed copies through Amazon is nearly impossible as a South African publisher would need to have stock available in the US. However, e-books break down this barrier for authors as the fulfilment of electronic files is simply an easier online process.
In January 2010 Amazon announced that authors and publishers outside of the US are able to publish and sell their books on Amazon using their Digital Text Platform (DTP), to upload and sell books in the Kindle Store. Prior to this, the DTP was only available to authors and publishers with a US billing address. The bad news is that South Africans are still stumped because Amazon pays overseas authors by cheque posted to the overseas address – not electronically.
For South Africans this creates an unsurpassable barrier because Amazon does not deliver in South Africa.
But how did du Plessis do it? . . .
“Before January 15th when Amazon allowed non US residents to upload to Kindle, I attempted different (legitimate) routes to bypass the Amazon prohibition. The process was laborious and met with unforeseen obstacles and limited success. There are suppliers to Amazon that will upload your publication – but they are not always technically reliable and from a financial point of view everyone in the distribution chain takes a cut of the profits and may leave the author with very little to show for his or her efforts. May I add that Amazon places a penalty on non US authors with a US$2.00 mark up on all Kindle books sold to residents outside of the US on behalf of publishers outside of the US to comply with US tax regulations.”
Du Plessis decided to go the UK way with a legitimate UK banking account at his disposal and a residential address of close family whom he visits annually where payments could be posted.
Concludes Dr Du Plessis: “Even the digital world has severe barriers of entry to South Africans. The one thing the whole laborious process taught me is that, as South Africans, we are hugely disadvantaged when attempting to enter global markets through internet commerce.”