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e-book related topics > What's with the eBook store attitude?

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message 1: by Guido (last edited Feb 12, 2010 02:51PM) (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments For the past weeks I have been scouting the web for eBook websites, trying to see how I can get as much distribution as possible for my Jason Dark series. What I found was shocking at best - an attitude that rivals cell phone carrier business models in their sheer arrogance.

Surprisingly enough, Amazon is probably the single best distribution outlet out there right now. The biggest player in the field show's everyone else how it's done and no one seems to take a lesson from them. Its Kindle store is easy to manage and super-fast when it comes to listing new product or getting updates done. Amazon is clearly the leader in this industry and it is no wonder the Kindle is such a hit!

Barnes and Noble is the exact opposite. It makes you wonder how they ever expect the Nook to take off when they don't even have a proper way for authors and publishers to contact them. It has been 4 weeks since I emailed them at the designated ebookstore address and not a peep was heard. Way to go! I mean, really, you people have a loooong way to go.

Smashwords is probably pretty awesome, too, though I have not used them because I am not a fan of their off-the-mill auto-meatgrinder format conversion. If I could provide my own fine-tuned eBook files I'd be with them in a heartbeat. Maybe I will eventually...

BooksOnBoard works only with large publishers. What the heck? Is it really too much work to allow smaller publishers upload files to your servers and get them in the catalog? That is not how you gain market share, people.

MobiPocket seems to have ceased business or something. It is not clear from their website. All they say is they no longer accept any publishers and refer people to Amazon instead. goes down the high horse road, by telling applicants they will have to work with an aggregator. They refuse to work with anything but high volume publishers. Again, I am not sure what these companies are thinking but they are deliberately relegating themselves to the sidelines. and belong together and have the same attitude as the others. Unless you can provide 10 titles for their store they are not interested in talking to you. they don't even seem to realize how they turn themselves into laughing stock with remarks like "because of the considerable time and expense it takes to establish an author at Fictionwise." Yeah, right... you're doing all the work, I see. Get real, folks! is a very friendly distribution outlet for fantasy, horror and science fiction writers in particular. While their publisher front and back end still need some work, they are attentive and responsive, and listen to the needs of authors.

I have yet to hear from Sony and Diesel Books but it's been only a day or so since I contacted them, so we'll see.

Anyone else have any distribution outlets and stories to add?

message 2: by Alison (new)

Alison | 55 comments Guido, If you list your book with Smashwords, they do all the work getting it into the other ebook sites.

Smashwords will distribute your book to Kindle, B&N, Sony and I think they have several more in the pipeline, and they have just signed with a Canadian distributor too.

For the future of your e-book, I'm a strong believer that Smashwords is the only way forward for us indie authors/publishers. They are also incredibly helpful.

I had a problem once, for some reason the PDF version had corrupted and I found out about it on a Sunday afternoon. I wrote to them in their contact box on their website that Sunday afternoon and I'm not kidding you, I got a response back about 1/2 hour later from the head honcho himself, Mark Coker, and he helped me fix the problem there and then.

Nearly fell off my chair!!

message 3: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments I know they are great guys. I have been friends with their CTO for a long time and one would think I'd have been on there for the longest time, but as I said I am simply not a friend of their meat grinder approach, knowing how tricky some of the platforms can be to get proper results. I may just give it a try, though, and see what their resulting output looks like and then decide from there.

message 4: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 64 comments ditto Alison

message 5: by Svetlana (new)

Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna I agree with Alison

message 6: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments Well, I've uploaded two of my books to Smashwords and we'll see how they work out for me. I am not all that happy with the auto-converted output, as I suspected, but I take it for the time being, hoping that some day they will allow me to upload my own fine-tuned eBook format files.

message 7: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments book worked out fine on Smashwords in all but two formats: Palm pdb and plain-text. (If I weren't devoted to my Palm TX, I probably would never have noticed) The epub, mobi and pdf versions look great.

I expect to have two more books out by the end of this year, and at least one will be on Smashwords. Not sure about the other -- it's a picture book and Meatgrinder doesn't handle those as well.

message 8: by Rick (new)

Rick | 25 comments Smashwords tells you upfront that most likely you won't make very much money. I haven't so far. But it's interesting to see how many people download your book. And Mark Coker is very responsive. Sometimes I hear from him in less than five minutes with an answer to a question.

message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments I haven't made anything yet, but I'm not giving up yet, either. I gave away a bunch of free downloads the first week, so I have 102 "sales," though.

message 10: by Jess (new)

Jess Scott (jesscscott) The style guide is absolutely crucial (helps when you're uploading your book to other eBook sites too, besides Smashwords):

I'm happy being on Amazon and Smashwords (and the distribution outlets they handle) for now. 1-2 very efficient outlets are way better than none :)

message 11: by Adam (new)

Adam Bender (adambender) | 21 comments I haven't seen anyone mention Scribd, but it's a pretty solid site too. They take PDF files and display them sort of like YouTube videos (which you can even embed on your website), and you can sell eBooks. Only issue is they won't convert your stuff into epub or the other formats that are more friendly for eReaders.

I'm selling my book through Scribd and Smashwords currently. Seems to be a good combo!

message 12: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments Since I am the one who started this thread, I think it is time for an update because a lot has changed in the past short months.

There are a number of new distribution channels open now that offer premium distribution at incredibly exciting royalty rates.

Not surprisingly, Amazon is still King of the Hill and the single best distribution outlet out there right now. The biggest player in the field show's everyone else how it's done, especially now that they are paying 70% royalties, and everyone should take a lesson from them. Its Kindle store is easy to manage and super-fast when it comes to listing new product or getting updates done. Amazon is clearly the leader in this industry and it is no wonder the Kindle is such a hit!

Apple has opened its iBook store to everyone, and like iTunes before, it makes your books available to a huge audience. Sales are coming in - not at the rate as Amazon - but there is development. Apple still has to iron out some glitches and definitely needs to improve their search engine, but things are looking very good and will no doubt get even better as time goes on.

Barnes&Noble is about to open PubIt!, their open distribution portal which will allow even small authors to list their ebooks with them. While not available yet, it has a lot of promise, as B&N has made some truly aggressive moves with their nook reader, even forcing Amazon to lower the price of the Kindle. I'm very much looking forward to their debut.

Borders made a surprise appearance out of the left field. By teaming up with Kobo many indie authors now have the chance to also get into this eBook store directly. While Kobo does not work with one-book authors, if you have a few titles, this is definitely a possibility.

With the major players now being open for business, in my opinion the future for smaller eBook sites are looking grim. There is simply no reason for people to use BooksOnBord, Mobipockets, Fictionwise, Scribd to purchase their books. With their stores hard-wired into the reading devices, the premium channels will clearly dominate the market in no time at all, especially since they all offer software versions of their readers for a variety of desktop computers and mobile devices.

Even Smashwords has no future in my opinion. Sales have never been there for Smashword titles - not for me o any other authors I talked to - and there is no benefit in using them for premium distribution and the only reason I can see authors using them in the future is for their ease of use to create eBooks - mangled and erroneous as the results may turn out - and maybe in order to process coupons - which you could do in a much more controlled fashion through your own website.

I am honestly amazed how quickly this industry has changed and I am eagerly looking forward to the future 12 months as the 800-pound gorillas will fully establish themselves.

message 13: by Adam (new)

Adam Bender (adambender) | 21 comments I'm a little new at selling ebooks and have just started with Smashwords... Are you saying it's actually a better deal to go directly through the sites Smashwords has contracts with, like B&N, Kobo, Sony, etc., rather than using Smashwords as the middleman?

message 14: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments Yes, that's exactly what I am saying.

Start with Amazon, as they are the most important outlet. Prepare your mobi file, create an Amazon DTP account - - and upload your book to their store.

Next I would look at Apple's store. It requires that you have a Mac, though, as you will need a special utility that Apple is providing to prepare and upload your book to their store.

And so forth... as I said, B&N has not opened their store yet, and Kobo will most likely turn you down with only one book at this time, but at least if you do Amazon and Apple directly, you are already serving to major outlets yourself without having Smashwords as the middleman.

message 15: by Adam (new)

Adam Bender (adambender) | 21 comments I'm a PC-only guy at the moment, but will definitely check out doing Amazon directly. What software do you use to prepare a mobi file?

message 16: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments That depends to a large degree on how you go about it. In my case, I need an ASCII editor to turn my writing into a properly formatted HTML file and I then do the actually eBook conversion in "Calibre," a free software package ( that supports many eBook formats.

However, if you don't know how to create HTML, you can save your document as an RTF file in your word processor and bring that into Calibre as well for conversion.

message 17: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Crimmel (jeffreyrcrimmelcom) | 43 comments I made it to Amazon kindle finally.
great read at half the price.

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