Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Barnes & Noble Launches PubIt

Barnes & Noble has launched a self-publishing program called PubIt!, which allows authors to send their material straight to eBook on their Nook reader. You can learn the full scoop here:

http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home

Royalties are given at a scale, so eBooks that sell for $2.99-$9.99 will net you 65% of the List Price. Anything outside that price range, with a low limit of $0.99 and a high limit of $199.99 (the range limits at which B&N will sell your book) gets you 40% of the List Price. That's pretty hefty either way. But there are ...

Caveats:

1) Content - B&N reserves the right to determine whether your material is acceptable for publication, meaning it cannot be "illegal, libelous, infringing, offensive, harmful or potentially harmful, threatening, harassing, legally obscene, defamatory, or intentionally hateful in any regard (see link above)." Nor can it contain advertisements, or solicit action from the reader (i.e. reviews). It also cannot contain the author or publisher's contact information, which I assume means that if your reader is looking for you on the web or through E-mail, you're out of luck putting that in your manuscript. The onus is on the author to determine whether content is compliant with all applicable laws, where it pertains to legality of your content.

2) Limited Distribution - Your book is only going to be available through B&N and its Nook reader, and is only offered in the United States. Anyone with a Kindle or Sony, etc., is probably going to be out of luck for reading it. Remember that your data is only good as long as you can read it. Ya gotta have the right gadget to get a PubIt! book. They did make some allowances here: you can read it on your "PC, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android smartphone enabled with our free NOOK eReading software (see link above)."

3) No Printie - It's eBook only, so you won't be able to get your book in print as well, unless you are an author whose books would also normally be available through brick and mortar stores (i.e. mass market).

4) No Marketing (Maybe) - B&N chooses which eBooks they will market, which means you will have to do the advertising legwork yourself ... which is a little harder when you can't put your contact info in your eBook.

5) Rights - Not mentioned with enough specificity for my comfort, anyway. They do say that if they find someone selling your eBook, i.e. infringing on your rights to sell it, "we will make commercially reasonable efforts to remove the eBook in question from future sale through PubIt! and we will make all commercially reasonable efforts to pay you the royalties due in connection with any sales of the eBook. This will be your sole and exclusive remedy (see link above)." This sits a little funny with me. "Commercially reasonable efforts" seems rather open-ended. There's also no spelled-out rights-reversion clause. I find that bothersome. Call me an old dog, but I like everything spelled out on paper before I give up my books.

6) Longevity - Recently, news came up that the B&N empire would be up for sale. With that up in the air, I wonder about the longevity of the company and its Nook reader. Again with the rights-reversion question.

So, in short, writer beware. Before you go into this with guns blazing, check and double check. The pay looks good, but you'll have your work cut out for you both before and after. Cheers!

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