Leave it to Bezos

Amazon Figured Out How to Make Some $$$ on ‘Fan Fiction’

But there's no pornography allowed, so why bother?
Now is the part where I throw my head back and laugh. (Photo: flickr.com/oreilly)

Now is the part where I throw my head back and laugh. (Photo: flickr.com/oreilly)

Dig out your folder of Gossip Girl short stories, because Amazon has figured out a way to make some cold, hard cash on derivative works. You know, other than just replacing all the names and selling it to a publisher.

Fan fiction is dead! Long live fan fiction!

Today the company announced Kindle Worlds, described as “the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so.” But you can’t cash in on any old blockbuster fiction series, lest you want J.K. Rowling showing up at your house with her goons to knock some sense into you.

Rather, Amazon has gotten licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip GirlPretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries. More licenses are reportedly coming soon; can’t wait to see which authors let people cash in on their lovingly crafted worlds. Both fanfic writers and rights holders will get royalties from Amazon (35 percent of net for the former).

There are a couple of big problems with this, though. For one, there are no crossovers allowed, so you can’t dump Sam and Dean from Supernatural into the Vampire Diaries. The Daily Dot’s Aja Romano doesn’t think this is really fan fiction, so much as just “offering to pay fans to write franchise tie-ins.”

Even more seriously, there’s no dirty business allowed. You can’t include “pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts” if you want to sell through Kindle Worlds.

Does Amazon even understand the point of fan fiction? Why bother if you can’t lovingly depict sadomasochistic encounters between Megatron and Optimus Prime?

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com