Yesterday, Barnes & Noble announced the launch of PubIt!, a free self-publishing service for its Nook e-reading device. With PubIt!, B&N joins Amazon and Apple in offering direct-to-device self-publishing (though Apple allows this only if you have a Mac; if you don’t, you must use an Apple-approved aggregator like Smashwords).
Like Apple, B&N uses the EPUB open ebook standard (Amazon, by contrast, imposes a proprietary format). There’s a free tool to convert your manuscript, and an ISBN is not required (Amazon also doesn’t require an ISBN, but Apple does.) You must own your electronic rights, which means you can’t simultaneously publish elsewhere unless those agreements are nonexclusive. Unlike other devices, the Nook allows users to lend and share ebooks, and all books from PubIt (I refuse to keep typing in that stupid exclamation point) will be lendable.
Books can be priced anywhere from $.99 to $199.99. If you stick between $2.99 and $9.99, you’ll receive a 65% royalty–slightly more than Apple’s 60%, slightly less than the 70% option Amazon offers to US self-publishers (but with fewer conditions). Books priced higher or lower receive 40%. Like Amazon and Apple, B&N imposes some restrictions: if you sell your ebook via other retailers, your PubIt price can’t be higher, and it also can’t exceed the price for a print version, if there is one.
Titles uploaded to PubIt become available for sale within 24 to 72 hours.
What’s the advantage of using PubIt, rather than making your ebook available at Barnes & Noble via an ebook distributor? Better pay. B&N pays royalties on your book’s retail price, while distributors pay on net (retail less whatever discount B&N demands).
It wouldn’t be Writer Beware without a cautionary note. There’s a lot of hype about ebooks right now (frequently coupled with dire predictions of the imminent death of print). Indeed, ebooks seem to have finally reached a tipping point, and are experiencing explosive growth. Writers should remember, though, that whatever the electronic future may ultimately hold, the ebook market is still tiny (a little less than 9% of US trade book sales as of June 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers). And electronic self-publishers face all the challenges of exposure and respect that print self-publishers do.
The full PubIt publishing agreement is here (read it carefully).
The pricing agreement is here.
The content policy is here (there are some restrictions on what can be published).