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Barnes & Noble’s Pubit! About To Launch

I got an email yesterday from Pubit!, a new service that will allow writers to publish their own ebooks and offer them for sale on Barnes & Noble’s website, announcing Pubit!’s imminent launch. Barnes & Noble may be the world’s biggest bookseller, but Amazon is the world’s biggest ebook seller. According to the daily digest of publishing news I receive from Publisher’s Weekly, ebooks aren’t the future of the book business, they are what’s happening now.

Less than half an hour after I reopened the Pubit! email this morning, I was signed up. It took that long only because I spent twenty minutes studying the publisher’s agreement, royalty terms and content policies. I’ve been waiting for this site to launch all summer. In fact, Barnes & Noble had announced that it would be launched this summer, so maybe Indian summer is what they were really shooting for all along.

The royalty percentage is a little low at 65%, compared to Amazon’s 70% for its Kindle Digital Text platform authors, but on a book retailing for $4.99 that translates into a twenty five cent difference. I’m guessing that this will rise to match Amazon’s royalty rate once the surge of authors uploading books begins to slow down.

And the name…well, let’s just hope the person responsible for coming up with “Pubit!” has been transferred out of the marketing department. 

There has never been a better opportunity, with such a low barrier to entry, for a writer to publish a book and get it distributed to a national audience by major booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The main caveat to this development is the increased amount of effort an author will have to put into drawing attention to his or her work.

Could this be one of the changes Leonard Riggio is betting on to turn Barnes & Noble around? PubIt! can quickly and cheaply put a big repository of ebooks on the web to counter Amazon’s vast library, and the millions of ebooks Steve Jobs claims his IBooks store contains.

The BISG’s “Survey of Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading” consists of three surveys taken over the course of nine months. The most recent findings and their implications for the industry include:

Thirty-seven percent of e-book buyers bought their first digital book within the last six months. Because so many consumers are only beginning to develop the habit of buying e-books, publishers have an opportunity to shape expectations about such things as pricing and the timing of digital releases.

E-book Sales Statistics from BISG Survey

It’s very likely a case of too little, too late, but I am pulling for Barnes & Noble to make a comeback. In fact, I will be headed to the nearest store soon after posting this piece to look for some books I noticed in the New York Times Review of Books last week.

The best thing about this?

After all these years of being a loyal customer, I will finally get to see my own book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble…

…even if it’s an electronic shelf.


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