I write novels, I'm not a big name publisher or anything else but I have ideas that I think should have a chance to be seen by others. Most of my work is for private use, like sharing with friends because I'm kind of scared of what kind of reception my books may get. I suppose that's another question entirely though.

The main question is, am I able to have something sold on Amazon (just for example) for say, $5 USD but on the other hand, have a private blog or personal website, or even an open source art site like DeviantArt for free, probably in .pdf form or likewise?

It would be a lot like having something that everyone could enjoy in my opinion, something I still have rights to and all of that but people could actually go buy the book if they liked it to show appreciation.

(I imagine there would be ISBN issues between selling and having something free, though.)

Seeing as a lot of people, artists inparticular, like to use things like Patreon for every little thing they do, would my best bet be just publishing my stories openly, but having something like Patreon be an option? Thanks for your time, have a nice day or night.

4 Answers 4


The Kindle Direct Publishing contract says that you will not make your book available elsewhere for a lower price. So if your book is available on a web site for free, you can't sell it for more than $0.00 on Amazon.

If they find your book available at a lower price, they will drop the Kindle price to match it. And they will scold you.

I don't know whether Amazon would consider a PDF edition (sold elsewhere) to be the same book as the Kindle edition that you sell through them.

Many other retailers are the same. The contract forbids you to make your book available elsewhere at a lower price.

  • I see, thank you for giving letting me know the more legal end of things, or what I could expect if I were to follow through with Amazon or commercial retailers I would imagine. I suppose I'll write a plan out and see what would be best. I'm not too sure either, about Amazon considering a different format being a different book. I suppose there could be some changes between the two that would make them different in their own way. I guess it makes sense a contract would forbid just giving away a product they help advertise or sell.
    – Tayrma_T
    Sep 17, 2015 at 0:09
  • This is incorrect because a website is not a book. You cannot sell your electronic or print book through Amazon for $10 and sell it through Apple for $5. But you can create a movie of your book and sell it for $0 and you can create a website of your book that also costs $0. You can sell rights to a chapter to a magazine (website) for whatever amount you please. Feb 23, 2016 at 20:54
  • I wouldn't have interpreted giving something away for free as selling it a lower price. Giving is not a type of selling, in my understanding. I would have thought if giving it away for free was also prohibited they would have added a bit specifically banning that as well. Also there is a book for sale on Amazon that is also available free quite legally it seems. This has been the situation for years. The title is "Python Crash Course", and if you search for "Python Crash Course pdf" you will see you can download it free. Jul 3, 2021 at 16:47

A good thought for you may be what would be appropriate were I a major published writer and wanted to give away copies that the contract publisher will receive no commission from. There is a single yet albeit unconfusing answer that will be answered in a publishing contract. Yet while selling at your personal expense while giving out free copies you are a bold and generous writer unafraid of loss while gleaning personal gain in form of charity or whatever tag you feel comfortable with

  • Thank you, I think you are right about asking myself which way I would want to publish. Giving away copies would be pretty generous while also still being able to sell I guess. I might go that direction with it, still thinking it over.
    – Tayrma_T
    Sep 16, 2015 at 2:37

I highly recommend that you publish your book in both a paid electronic book version and ad-supported Web version. Those are two different mediums. Each of them has distinct advantages over the other.

It is fairly common for technical books to also be available in a Web version. I’m pretty sure that all of the last 10 technical books that I purchased were also on the Web in their entirety. For example:

Web Audio API by Boris Smus

I read portions of that book on the Web before paying for it, same as in the past I would read portions of a print book in the bookstore before paying for it and carrying it out of there. I paid to get these advantages:

  • quality — better user interface, no ads

  • convenience — offline access and lifetime access, because a website can go away at any time

  • honor the implicit contract between reader and author and publisher — the author and publisher basically said to me, “if this is the right book for you, if you find value in it, you are part of the book’s community, so please pay into the community’s shared production costs to support this book and also future books from this author and/or publisher.”

Because there was no metaphorical gun to my head, it wasn’t a grudging decision of “OK, OK, I’ll pay for the book,” it was a very positive decision of “you guys nailed it with this book, this book will really add value to my life, I want the convenient and high-quality version, and I am happy to put a little money in the book’s tip jar.”

The Internet is still young and electronic books are like tiny babies. The fact that a model of free sample chapter in your electronic book reader has been done a lot so far doesn’t mean that is the right way to do it for the benefit of either the reader or the author or publisher. The ad-supported Web version with a downloadable electronic book is actually much more like the print bookstore. In both cases you can browse the entire book before you buy, and in both cases, when you buy you get similar advantages of a higher-quality reading experience, more convenience, and honoring the implicit contract between reader, author, and publisher.

One problem today is so many authors — especially new authors — are doing all this writing, production, publishing, and promotion of their electronic book, and then they sell 3 copies because nobody loves that book yet. Nobody has really even seen it. If you have already written 5 best-sellers then maybe you can expect people to jump at buying your 6th book sight-unseen. But that is only a small minority of authors. For most authors, you are still trying to build that kind of relationship with your audience. One way to do that is a Web version of your book so that a broad range of people can read your book and get that relationship started.

An important thing to recognize is that your audience is divided into 3 significant parts:

  1. enthusiastic readers who have enough money to pay for books, and generally like to pay for books

  2. enthusiastic readers who do not have enough money to pay for books, but may one day have enough money to pay for books

  3. people who won’t pay for a book under any circumstances, either because they don’t want to or because they can’t

I think the sample chapter method is focused on converting people from group 2 and 3 to group 1. The ad-supported Web method is focused on pleasing the enthusiastic readers in group 1 and 2, who are by far your best customers, and selling paid books to them. Group 1 will pay for your book now, group 2 may pay for your book later, and group 3 was never going to pay for your book anyway.

I did a lot of research on this, and the thing that really converted me to doing the ad-supported Web version plus paid downloadable version is the cost of advertising. It is really hard to reach people today because the market is so fragmented. I was looking at paying Google a lot of money to place ads for my paid version on other people’s websites in order to get readers to go and view a sample of the paid version and maybe buy it. But I realized that if I did an ad-supported Web version, that acts as an ad for the paid version, but Google pays me. Still have to promote the website, but that is easier because you can go to social media with a link and say here is a link to something you can enjoy right now, whether you go on to buy the paid version or not.

As for ISBN and book contract pricing issues, there are none. A website is not a book and does not have to have an ISBN, although you can apply one to the website version if you like. If you do, you use a different ISBN. A paperback book and hardcover book and electronic book (Amazon or iBooks) and interactive book (iBooks) of the same work have 4 different ISBN’s. So you may put your electronic book ISBN XXXXXXX123456 into Amazon at $5 and the contract prevents you from putting that same ISBN into Apple for $3. However, it has no affect on the website version which either doesn’t have an ISBN, or has a different ISBN XXXXXX654321.

Where to put your book on the Web is put it at your own dot-com that you create with something like Squarespace which gives you complete control over it without having to learn to be a Web designer. And you place ads on it through Google’s AdSense. Do a dot-com of your name (e.g. Ernest Hemingway) and put your book at a so-called “clean link” (no extraneous information or tech ephemera) like:


… and that gives you a very easy to remember, easy to promote, easy to type, easy to understand Web location that you can promote like crazy on social media and elsewhere. And of course you put a prominent link on there to the paid version(s). And then your next book would go at:


… and now your website is really becoming a destination for readers.


If you mean, Is there a law against it? No.

A retailer might ask you to sign a contract promising not to sell for less than their price. As Dale mentions, Kindle -- and Amazon in general -- ask you to promise this.

From your own point of view, why would you want to do this? If people can find your book for sale for $5 and available elsewhere for free, why would they pay for it? It seems like you would be competing against yourself.

RE ISBNs: An ISBN identifies a particular edition of a book: the text, the cover, the binding, etc. If you produce, say, a hardcover version and a paperback version, or a version with color pictures and a version with only black & white pictures, they must have different ISBNs. But you wouldn't have a different ISBN just because you're distributing through a different channel or charging a different price. An ISBN is like a part or item number: it identifies the specific book for ordering purposes. If a company made a red shirt and a blue shirt, they'd need different item numbers to distinguish them. But they wouldn't make different item numbers for each store that sells their shirts.

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