Barnes & Noble Launches PubIt! Self-Publishing Service

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).


  1. I use both Pubit! and Kindle for ebook publishing and it's awesome. I sold over 300 copies of my books the first month they were released. That's not a bad start. I haven't sold very many in paperback format. Kindles and Nooks are the future.

  2. I think ebooks are the future. I travel for work and no longer buy hard copy books. I'm also a writer and have my ebooks on amazon and pubit and they are selling remarkably well. Can't complain.

  3. Hi Victoria-
    RE; ebooks and their relative small distribution—I agree, numbers are small. But consider this, numbers for first print runs for most books–also small-5000 library run. Many books don't enjoy a 2nd run. Considering the author can also distribute the ebook, the small % seems less small and more hopeful for the author. If you have a good product, only your energy/imagination stops you from selling it…

  4. Sounds like good news to me, especially if you're already self-published through the Kindle. I've worked with independent authors that have sold thousands of ebooks–many more than they initially expected, for sure–so there are surprising opportunities in this current ebook publishing environment.

  5. Like all options…this is a good thing for writers who are in a small niche. Stuff like small town histories, minority religious literature and non-commercial niche fiction fits well. In terms of selling a lot of copies…not so much.

  6. Like many other similar options, PubIt is not open to writers outside the USA unless you have a US bank account, etc.
    So it's not really global. Are the financial requirements in case you make a million dollars and the tax people want their cut?

  7. @ catdownunder

    I think since it's free to set up (if you own the device) that quite a few people might be willing to do "the hard work." I certainly would, as long as the terms stay reasonable. But you would need a strong readership built in already. Certainly I don't see this as a hot tool for debut authors, just a possibly useful one for people able to take advantage of it.

  8. I think it could have its uses, especially where an author already has a strong internet following, but may not have the money to do a quality POD or self-pub run. Of course there are limitations, but I could see myself using this, if the occasion came up.

    Thanks for posting!

  9. Well now, if you had a built in readership of even a 1,000 without having to advertise there might be something in it – but not much. Seems like they want you to do all the hard work yourself. Yes?

  10. Really interesting. I can see this being useful if you went the self-publishing route in print, but would authors really do this just by itself? I suppose it's pure profit…if anyone buys it.

    Surely authors, if no one else, will continue to support print publishing over e-publishing. I hope?

    As always, thanks for the awesome info. 🙂


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