Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Think I Learned About This in Health Class

Barnes & Noble has recently announced their self-publishing service—named, rather unfortunately, "PubIt!"—which is due to launch this summer, thereby making thousands of heretofore unread self-published novels available on the vast, increasingly terrifying state (world?) fair midway that is the Internet.

Digital rights will apparently be protected via Barnes & Noble's proprietary DRM, but no word yet on the "competitive" royalty structure that will draw market share away from other self-publishing operations, most notably Amazon's. According to B&N, PubIt! (no, I will not stop saying it) will make content available on the Nook, as well as PCs and the entire Mac Empire line (personal computers, the iPhone, the iPad, the iDon'tKnow, &c). Interesting times, meine Autoren!

With the proliferation of e-books, Internet platforms from which to launch them, and devices with which to read them, I think the next two to five years are going to be extraordinarily interesting. If you'd asked me a few months ago, I would have told you I expected the Kindle and the iPad to assume the majority of the market share and that they would squeeze the Nook out in a couple of years; with PubIt! (ha!) now on the scene, I'm not sure that's true anymore. It will really depend on how many people associate the brick-and-mortar brand of Barnes & Noble with 1.) book sales (relatively easy) and 2.) e-book sales (not as easy, especially with Amazon currently monopolizing that market). Given the choice, I think most people will still choose to self-publish their e-books with Amazon, since the Kindle for iPad app allows them to enjoy the best of both worlds, whereas PubIt! (okay, I'll stop now) only allows authors access to the iPad and the Nook.

What do you think, fair readers?


  1. Well, it does seem completely appropriately that the PubIt! will make books available on the iPad. I cannot be the only one that thinks the iPad sounds like Kotex's latest innovation.

  2. I don't understand your comparison to Kindle for iPad and B&N iPad/Nook. B&N uses its B&N reader app on Apple products. How is that different than the Kindle for iPad?

  3. I do have a Kindle but I never venture towards reading (and especially paying for) self-pub books. If they weren't good enough to be 'bought' then I'd probably rather not read them. So for me, it's all in the realm of "I don't care if it hits kindle, nook or otherwise"

    I do love your iDon'tKnow. I'm sure that's coming out soon.

  4. Ditto what Joseph said. I don't see a competitive advantage aside from Amazon's head start.

    I have a Kindle and like it but I'm recommending Nook to friends who are in the market for an eReader and don't want an iPad. Nook has the lending feature, for one thing. And since the software (like Kindle) can be downloaded to a PC I can loan a B&N eBook to a non-Nook owner as long as they don't mind reading it on their PC.

    And although the Amazon pissing contest over eBook pricing is temporary, for the time being I find new releases in digital format available at B&N but not Amazon. If I'm jonesing for a book I don't care if it cost me $12.99 instead of $9.99 to get it right this minute. Even though I own a Kindle, Amazon has lost several sales from me over the last month because of availability of titles. I just bought from B&N.

    I'm a market research group of only one but if there are more of me out there B&N could make some headway growing their market share.

    As far as self-pub goes, would an author be contractually prohibited from making a title available at both sellers? It might have two different ISBNs but it seems like something they would consider, esp. with no upfront investment.

  5. I can't think past the PubIt... seriously... where are their brains?

  6. So basically, B&N is creating an alternative eBook distribution chain to compete with Amazon. This can only be a Good Thing; we need some choices.

    Still, there's that DRM issue again. I wonder what will happen when indie publishers who understand that DRM sucks and don't WANT any DRM on their titles try to get their titles into B&N's eBook distribution chain?

    I mean, there's no downside for B&N; if I, small indie publisher, want to go to all the bother of creating the right Nook-friendly files or whatever, and go through the no-doubt automated, turnkey upload process to get the thing into B&N's store, then B&N stands to gain whatever sales take place. They're not out anything for production costs, so any piracy on that title doesn't affect their bottom line. Why should they care, in their way of thinking, if some indie publisher is dumb enough to eschew DRM? Shouldn't B&N still be happy to have the title in their catalog? If they sell even one copy of the thing, it's a net win for them.

  7. The Amazon advantage is the size of the e-book market they control (the last figures I read claimed 85% of all e-book sales are with Amazon). Also, last I heard the number one e-book seller on iPad was Amazon.

    I think where B&N is heading is to a bookstore version of the retail Apple store. Visit a B&N store to play with the nook, sample e-books, use a POD machine if you want your book old school format, and use PubIt if you are a local unpublished author.

    Of course, everything will change again in a month or so when the Google Reader editions join the fun.

  8. "PubIt"?! Oh, honey, no... Just no.

  9. I think anyone associated with publishing should stay well away from the urinary tract region. Pubit? Wepad? Can't any of these guys afford market research personnel?

    -- A decidedly brown reader