Borders Joins the Self-Publishing Fray… Kinda

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released new sales figures for the industry. An interesting figure in the announcement is that “E-books for the period comprise 9.03% of total consumer book sales, compared to 3.31 percent at the close of 2009.

Wow, e-book sales are spiking!

On the heels of this comes an announcement from Borders that they will be launching a self-publishing platform.

I was wondering when Borders would get on the Indie Author/Self-Publishing movement. With so many traditionally published authors now releasing their own backlist, adding to that movement, it only makes sense. But, considering the financial problems Borders has been having, why didn’t they do this before? They need all the help they can get.

Well, the announcement isn’t as great as it first sounds. Details are still sketchy, but here is what I’ve found out so far:

Borders Self-Publishing Platform Name: Borders – Get Published. Hey, at least it’s better than Pubit. :erk:

Launch Date: October 25. We’ll see if they can make that date, although the fact they are using BookBrewer to power the technology and platform might help them keep the deadline. Having more eBooks to offer for the holiday season would help Border’s bottom-line. Supposedly the books will appear in the eBook store within 48 hours.

Now, the problems with this offering, and why Authors need to do research before jumping in:

First, the authors must go through BookBrewer, as this publishing service is not through Borders itself. The plus is that authors can use that service to sell books through other partner eBook retailers (including Amazon, which would be stupid to do considering the pricing and royalty scheme. Just go to Amazon directly!). The bad is the price, and the fact you are using a distributor.

And the price? Here is the OUCH part and not very smart of Borders. There is a fee to be published. For $89.99 (okay, JUST CALL IT $90 and get it over with!) BookBrewer will assign your book with an ISBN and make it available at prices set by the author (typical pricing limits are $2.99 – $9.99). Royalties will vary with each retailer.

The $200 ($199.99) package comes with a full version of the ePub file. Apparently you don’t get a copy of your file with the first tier, only the higher priced second tier. What other perks there are to paying so much more is not clear.

Oh, and on top of the fees listed above, they also take a 25% royalty. The royalty by itself wouldn’t be so bad, but I do object to the upfront fee on top of it.

By comparison, “Smashwords pays the author, or the author’s designated publisher, 85% of the net sales proceeds from the work.” That equals a 15% royalty of what they receive after the Retailer takes their cut and NO upfront fees.

Hmm, the price comparison isn’t good so far. Not unless BookBrewser has negotiated better royalties with the individual Retailers that no one else can get, and I have yet to see any evidence of that.

They claim “This is quite a deal compared to other services, which charge between $300 and $3,000 to do the same thing.” Yes, only if the author doesn’t do their research properly and gets caught by the sinking dragnet of Vanity Printing.

Yep, severe sarcasm in that last part. The more I look at this, the worse the deal looks. Yeah, nice job, Borders. Do you want to try again?

While BookBrewer has its own website with information, I do not know how much of it will apply to the Borders partnership deal.


Can authors who already have a good, corrected and properly formatted ePub file upload it and have it published as-is? This is one draw-back to Smashwords. The fact the one release says “Authors can add content by typing in the platform, by copying and pasting it into an online form, or content can be fed from an existing website or blog. The content will be saved as an ePub file.” does not bode well.

Can authors use their own ISBN even at the lower tier if they already have it bought for their book? Heck, can they use their own on the pricier tier?

How fast is the reporting period turn-around? Does it beat the quarterly statements from Smashwords? NOTE: On their website they say reporting is Quarterly, but I don’t know if that will change with the new partnership. If it doesn’t, then just use Smashwords. There would be no incentive to go with this service over Smashwords on this particular item.

Is DRM automatically inserted into the files? Do the authors have the option of not having DRM on their books? This might also be dictated by the retailer, as some require it.

For the pricing and royalties, why use this service if you can do it for free through Smashwords? Yes Smashwords takes more time to propagate to the Retailer store, but yeash!

Overall, I am not impressed. Actually, on some parts I’m disgusted. Authors, do your research first! Know what you are getting into and research the alternatives. Think logically, not emotionally. Remember this is a business. If someone is charging more, they better offer more.

Borders, you aren’t a big enough market share for me to put up with this. You already had Smashwords, who has a good reputation in the Indie Publishing movement (despite some problems). You couldn’t have chosen a better partner?

Unless this deal considerably improves, I will be using Smashwords (also researching a few other venues) to get into the Borders, Kobo and other stores and platforms, NOT BookBrewer.

Other viewpoints who are also not impressed.

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Borders Joins the Self-Publishing Fray... Kinda

3 thoughts on “Borders Joins the Self-Publishing Fray… Kinda”

  1. It pays to understand what you are not getting for your dollar before using GetPublished. Scams come in all shapes and sizes. 🙂

  2. This is a great, thorough piece that seems to cover a whole range of “brave new world” publishing options. For the vanity presses to fall seems a pretty good thing, imo. And long live the content filterers of the future!


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