Viva La Revolution!!
Since the first shot was fired, a little more than one year ago, the fight for legitimacy in the Print On Demand and Ebook publishing industry continues at a fast and furious pace. In any revolution, there are the leaders, the followers and the bystanders who are only waiting for the smoke to clear before taking sides.
The revolutionaries are usually a small group of individuals who, for a variety of reasons take up arms against the injustices of the establishment and use whatever means to enact change. So it goes with the Electronic Publishing Revolution. The news from the front is not very encouraging. Major books store chain Barnes & Noble, who at first was very enthusiastic about its partnership with iUniverse.com, is now re-thinking its position, making it even harder for iUniverse authors to schedule booksigning events at these sites. Due to the POD policy of non-returnable books, stores are reluctant to make a large commitment for fear of being "stuck" with unsaleable inventory.
Which is exactly what happened in October when I was invited to participate in the "World’s largest writing workshop." The community relations manager of the Barnes & Noble store in Burbank, CA ordered her usual stock of 22 books three weeks prior to the event. However, because the book was an iUniverse title, corporate put her order on hold. Fortunately, I had five books of my own I took to the event, and she had three, all of which were sold on site. However, I lost 22 royalties payments because of the store’s policy. Meanwhile I had to invoice the store myself and as of this date, two months later, have not received payment for the five books I sold at the event.
Most bookstores receive a 40% discount on all books they purchase. However, iUniverse only offers 30%, another reason independent bookstores are reluctant to purchase POD books. iUniverse does offer authors a 45% discount on books purchase in quantities of 20 or more for specific events, but then the author only receives 5% royalty (if you take into account the shipping charge, the royalty is even less).
One thing to remember, is that ANY POD's only offer the service of printing your manuscript in book form, either paperback, hard cover (Xlibris) or ebook, or a combination of both. And, they will make it "available" on Amazon.com and other Internet bookstores. Most of the POS publishers use Ingram or Books-In-Print for distribution, which allows books to be ordered at the customer service desk at some bookstores, but without a special "small publishers" contract with Barnes and Noble, or a BINK number from Borders, your book won’t be listed in the store’s computer. Last January, I hosted a booksigning at our local Borders. Just last week, I was in the store and noticed they had a computer on-site of the Borders.com web-site. I looked up my book and was delighted to find it listed on their computer. HOWEVER, when I went to the main desk to inquire if they had it in stock, they’re computer couldn’t find it. Even though I knew the book was in stock at that store and I had hosted several events at that site, because it didn’t have a BINK number, it was non-existent as far as Borders was concerned. If I hadn’t gone into that store, I never would have known this as my "publisher" iUniverse doesn’t handle on-site stores
The marketing and promotion of POD books is still left up to the author, and that's the most difficult part. For an example, the LA Times Book Festival in April is an excellent opportunity for authors and their POD's to showcase their work, however iUniverse continues to ignore these opportunities and refuses to even co-sponsor a booth for the event. 1st books and Xlibris have attended these book shows and festivals, both to promote their companies and their authors, a benefit to all. With B&N now re-thinking their contract with iUniverse and many if not all independent bookstores and major book reviewers such as the LA and NY times still refusing to accept POD publishers as legitimate, and not even considering stocking or reviewing our books, it's going to be an up hill climb for most first time authors to actually gain a reputation for excellence.
However, we must remember that this is still a NEW industry. With more and
more POD's coming onto the scene, the competition is going to be fierce, and as
a result I hope to see more and more authors begin taken seriously by
traditional outlets. Time will tell....
U-Turn to The Road To Riches