At long last I’ve finished writing my first eBook, “Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing.” I’m going to publish two eBook versions: a “multimedia EPUB” with 17 embedded videos / screencasts, and a standard eBook version without the videos. E-Ink powered eReaders like Kindle don’t support embedded videos. Lulu has an excellent comparative table showing which eReaders can play different eBook formats. The table doesn’t reflect eReaders which can handle “multimedia EPUBs” versus standard EPUBs, however.
I’ve been researching options for publishing my eBook on Apple’s iBookstore, included in iTunes, and have applied for an iTunes Connect Online Account. I don’t know how long that process will take, however, so I’ve also explored some other options. Currently five companies are certified “iBookstore Aggregators” and will (for contractual fees) help you publish your eBook to iTunes.
These companies now include:
Only two are listed by Apple as supporting “multimedia EPUBs:” Ingram and LibreDigital. The fine print of what LibreDigital will “take” as their services commission is listed as “Exhibit A” on their “Terms” or “Agency Distribution Agreement” document. In this legal document, the author (that’s me in this case) is “the Publisher.” LibreDigital is the “Distributor.” The contract states:
Commission Due to Publisher (for all Devices and Distributor / Agents other than Apple): 50% of the Customer Price payable by eBook Proceeds. The “sale” of an eBook shall occur when an eBook is first delivered to an end user.
Commission Due to Publisher when Apple serves as the Distributor / Agent: 55% of the Customer Price payable by eBook Proceeds. The “sale” of an eBook shall occur when an eBook is first delivered to an end user.
So, if I opt to sell my eBook on the iBookstore with LibreDigital as my distributor the money will be divided the following ways:
- Apple keeps: $3.00
- LibreDigital keeps: $3.15
- I keep: $3.84
Basically, LibreDigital wants to keep half my money after Apple takes their mandatory 30%.
The terms also specify the Publisher must make (in their portion of the revenue formula) at least $500 per month to receive a check that month from the publisher. This is a stark contrast with Lulu.com, which will pay via PayPal on a monthly basis when you earn more than $5.
Lulu.com is the other option I’ve researched the most so far. I’ve talked with both David Warlick and Angela Maiers about their experiences publishing with Lulu, and they have largely been positive. Apple’s Connect Online information indicates Lulu doesn’t work with multimedia EPUBs, however, so I don’t know if Lulu will be an option for me. That may be the reason, when I uploaded my EPUB to Lulu last night, I kept getting EPUB validation errors. These indicated a document size must be selected for PDF conversion, but I didn’t upload a PDF or want one converted.
If I did go with Lulu, they offer better revenue percentages than LibreDigital. Lulu’s “iBookstore Pricing & Revenue Calculator” shows for a $9.99 book:
- Apple keeps: $3.00
- Lulu keeps 41 cents or $0.41
- I keep $5.59.
That’s a MUCH better deal, but I’m not sure if Lulu can work with my multimedia EPUB.
One of the key services which LibreDigital, Lulu, and other “iBookstore Aggregators” are performing for authors is validating the EPUB formatting of the final digital eBook file. EpubCheck is a free, open source EPUB validation tool but it requires that you run it from a Java command line. That’s beyond my desired geek quotient, so I haven’t used it. If you know of a GUI / simpler interface option for EpubCheck please let me know. Eventually, I’d guess someone will offer complied versions of it like we see with The Gimp / Seashore.
Charlene Chausis is a big fan of eBook publishing via ePub Bud. They do have great services (including a free EPUB conversion service) but they don’t offer EPUB validation. They will sell you an ISBN for $5, but they are the owner of record for it instead of you. I am not entirely clear what ramifications that has, but as an author my sense is you want (ideally) to own and control your own ISBNs. I purchased a block of 10 a few months ago from the official U.S ISBN Agency. Check out this blog post for more links and info from Charlene’s eBook roundtable session at TechForum Chicago a couple months ago.
At this point I’m not sure if I’ll go with Lulu or LibreDigital for publishing to Apple’s iBookstore. It might be best for me to wait for my iTunes Connect account to be activated by Apple. I’m going to verify if Lulu will handle multimedia EPUBS, and if they do I would like to distribute my books there as well as on the iBookstore. If they don’t I’m not sure about LibreDigital. Their commission prices seem unnecessarily high. I’m concerned that the terms of their default distribution agreement are perpetual as well, rather than limited term. That is a big deal. When you submit a form to learn more about their service, it appears you are electronically agreeing to all their distribution terms as-is. I am not comfortable with this. There is a LOT of fine print.
While I mull over these iBookstore publishing options and wait for Apple to approve my iConnect application, I’m going to publish the “standard eBook” version of my book on Kindle Direct Publishing and PubIt! by Barnes and Noble. I have to use Amazon’s tools to convert my document from Pages to their proprietary “AZW” format. B&N will accept ePubs so I’m going to try and publish my multimedia ePub there. If you want to buy my book and are an iOS user with an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, however, I’d recommend you wait until an option is available to electronically purchase the “multimedia EPUB” version. The screencasts and embedded videos really do add A LOT to the book. (My mom has been my primary editor and proofer for this book project, and she verifies this!)
eBook publishing is quite an adventure, as I expected it would be! If you have any bits of advice or thoughts on these alternatives and issues, I’d love to hear from you. As different purchasing options for my eBook become available, I’ll add them to playingwithmedia.com/pages/about.
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On this day..
- Indeed You Are Powerful – Digital Screen – 2015
- Furniture Quest for a Collaborative Classroom – 2015
- Other People’s Photos Showing Up in my TwitPic Photo Stream – 2011
- Diigo now supports screenshots – 2010
- How can our school set up a team blog for teachers? – 2008
- Let’s brainstorm ideas for Storychasers – 2008
- links for 2008-07-25 – 2008
- Will the 4th screen bring us together? – 2008
- Beware the dangers of multi-tasking – 2007
- Options for podcast publishing and web feed creation – 2007