In the era of self-publishing, publishing services for authors have sprung up everywhere. Amazon, the innovative giant that it is, saw an opportunity in the market for self-published ebooks. To capitalize on this opportunity, Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing.
Not to be left behind, Barnes & Noble followed Amazon and launched its own digital self-publishing platform, Nook Press. Then Kobo, desiring to remain competitive put into motion a digital self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life.
Interestingly, a late comer has joined the fray. Books-A-Million has recently launched BAM! Publishing. This DIY platform goes beyond Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. BAM! Publishing allows authors to create both print and digital books. In addition, they offer a wider sales distribution than just their own marketplace. Authors using the BAM! Publishing service can choose wider distribution to include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and others through their partnership with Ingram Digital Distribution Network.
You may be wondering if Books-A-Million is investing in printing equipment for this new service. Interestingly, they are not. BAM! Publishing will be offering print book services through Espresso Book Machines (EBM) located in a few of their physical stores. Authors ordering print books can choose to either go to a store with an EBM to pick up their copies or can have them shipped to them.
I find BAM! Publishing an interesting idea for Books-A-Million to capitalize on the Espresso Book Machines they have. However, BAM! Publishing is not inexpensive. After all, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo all allow you to upload a digital book and sell it on their site for free—no upfront cost to you. Not BAM! Publishing. If you would like to make an ebook available online through BAM! Publishing Marketplace and through the Books-A-Million website, the cost is $129. BAM! Publishing then pays a royalty rate of 80% of the Retail Markup amount for each ebook sold. The service is charging an even higher fee for wider ebook distribution (to Amazon, BN, etc.). This fee is $279 to have your ebook available in these channels for three years.
While Books-A-Million is trying to be innovative, I believe they may be pricing themselves out of the market. After all, savvy author and publisher understand that they can use Smashwords for free for a wide distribution of their ebooks, or they can choose to upload their books to the three major ebook sellers listed earlier via each’s self-publishing platform for free.
Additionally, those authors and publishers who have done their homework know that they can get their books listed for printing on any Espresso Book Machine for free via OnDemand Books’ ExpressNet SelfServe for U.S. Publishers. EspressNet SelfServe is the web-based interface that allows publishers to upload their titles directly to EspressNet, the proprietary software that connects the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) to a vast network of content, enabling EBMs to order and print books. Publishers uploading books through EspressNet receive a 25% royalty on the retail price of the book.
Just because a service is being offered does not mean it is competitive or worthwhile. Always do your homework. Book publishing and distribution does not need to be expensive. It can be very affordable if you take the time to learn the avenues available to you. Sadly, too often, authors seeking to see their book in publication jump on what they perceive to be the easiest route. However, often they end up spending more than they ever make back in book sales.