eBookIt is a conversion and distribution platform for publishers and independent authors founded by business man and author Robert (Bo) Bennett in January, 2011. Based in Sudbury, Massachusetts, the company has more than 3500 titles listed with major retailers and is one of several web properties under Archieboy Holdings LLC(Bennett’s original company formed in 2001). The executive eBookIt team is listed here.
Authors and publishers have two choices when submitting titles to eBookIt; submit a preformatted (and validated) ePub file ready for distribution, or pay eBookIt to convert a submitted book file (.doc/docx, .pages, .odt, .rtf or PDF form) as part of one of its packages. Completed covers designs can be submitted in most image formats (or part of a PDF file), but should be 1659px wide by 2500px tall to cover requirements for the hi-resolution e-book reading devices (minimum 1400px by 2000px). As with most e-book self-publishing platforms, users must first set up a new account. eBookIt’s primary service costs $199 ($249 if PDF file submitted) and it includes the following:
The primary $199 package also includes a PRWeb press release featuring the following:
It should be noted that authors still need to prepare the copy (content) for the press release. eBookIt can do this but it comes at an additional fee. Authors supplying a converted and validated ePub file ready for distribution only $99 for this package, or just $25 if they don’t want the press release service included.
Authors will be provided with a proof in PDF format once formatting is complete.
“We do send you a pdf proof after we do the formatting of your books. This pdf is a representation of how the other formats will work. Since the other formats can only truly be tested on the devices they will be read on, we do not provide you proofs of all the formats. But we do guarantee that the conversions will be done correctly, as represented in the pdf proof.”
Authors should also be aware that additional charges may apply if even minor changes are made following conversion and submission to retail partners. All changes must be reported and made via email.
“Changing metadata (book pricing, description, author info, keywords, etc.) is $25. If possible, review all your metadata on your book detail page in the client area, and let us know of all changes at the same time. It will be the same $25. We need to manually resubmit/update your info with all of our retailers, and this takes about 30 minutes. […] Editing is billed at $49/hr in 15 minute increments. While minor edits themselves do not take that long, be aware that we need to add time on to any edits for a) reconversion of the original document into .pdf, .epub, and .mobi formats, and b) resubmission of the new file to all of the retailers. This is manual process. This usually takes about an hour ($49). This includes submitting a new cover image.”
eBookIt list books for distribution through the following major retailers:
This may look like a small list but do remember that Ingram and Kobo also include multiple external retail outlets worldwide. The list does not appear to be quite as extensive as Bookbaby or Smashwords.
Authors have the option — from their client dashboard — to switch on or off DRM (Digital Rights Management) on titles.
Pricing, Payments & Sales Reporting
Authors can set the general retail price of their books but they should be aware that this price may affect the overall share a retailer takes. The following is a breakdown of the discount on a book’s retail price taken by eBookIt’s retail partners. Remember, eBookIt is an aggregator. It does not set the share split or revenue paid to eBookIt. Discounts vary across retailers.
It should also be noted that eBookIt takes a 15% commission on the NET profit (revenue) received from a retailer before the remainder is paid to an author.
“So for example, let’s say your book sells for $9.99 at Amazon, and qualifies for the 70% royalty. Amazon would pay eBookIt.com $6.99; eBookIt.com retains $1.05, and pays the author $5.94.”
eBookIt.com has its own online bookstore and all titles for submission externally are listed there. There is no provision for direct sales from an author’s website, though the author does have access to all file formats from his/her client account and is free to sell books directly.
Sales reports are also available from the sales area of a client’s account, with payments made via PayPal every month. There is no minimum amount set for payments to an author no matter how low the total sales accrued per month. Sales are recorded approximately 60 days after the date of recorded sale with a retailer. Payments can be made by arrangement to a bank account if payments exceed $500 per month or by check if a minimum of $100 in sales revenue has been reached in the client’s account. Sales for POD books are paid quarterly (See POD later in this review).
eBookIt by name and eBookIt by nature, but unlike many of its direct competitors in this area of the author services market, a print-on-demand (POD) option is also available for clients and this includes distribution with Ingram (paperback, hardback and color books).
However, there are some limitations on this service:
TIPM’s example below is based on a 5.5 x 8.5 matte cover paperback of 200 pages using its pricing tool. As you can see, eBookit does apply a 25% print mark-up.Profit Per Book (distribution): $ 15.95 (retail price) x 55% (standard trade discount for retailers) = $ 8.77
$ 15.95 (retail price) less $ 8.77 (retailer’s share) = $ 7.18
$ 7.18 (amount left after retailer’s share) less $ 3.50 (charge for printing) = $ 3.68
$ 3.68 (gross profit) less 25% (ebookit share) = $ 2.76
$ 2.76 USD
* profit may vary based on geographic market in which the book is sold
Price Per Book (your cost): $ 7.11 USD
Setup Charge*: $99.00 USD
* If this is a reorder and no changes are being made, there is no setup charge.
Retail Distribution: $15.00 USD for first year
ISBN (if needed): $0.00 USD
Electronic Proof (PDF): $0.00 USD
Total: $185.08 USD + shipping and tax
(shipping based on published rates of shipping partners – nothing added)
Authors can order books for their own use, but a minimum order applies and the author will just pay for print costs and shipping—no mark-up from eBookIt. I’m concerned at the retail price an author would need to set to make a print version viable.
eBookIt is a tough call because so much is based on how prepared an author is with book files before upload. The more design and layout tasks taken on by the author, no matter what e-book service is chosen, then the greater flexibly he/she has. It is the difference between paying $249 upfront (with a PDF file) to paying as little as $25 with a validated ePub file and dispensing with the press release distribution. I also think e-book distributors and aggregators need to develop beyond an over reliance on Ingram, and striking direct deals with library services and smaller retailers directly. As one of the originators of the free e-book self-publishing platforms, Smashwords still leads the way for innovation and depth of market penetration (outside of Amazon Kindle).
The website is very user-friendly (for its functional options) and it is trying to offer as much as possible for authors and publishers all in one place. The manual input on formatting and conversion is a major plus and this is what sets it apart from the automated approach of services like Smashwords. I’d still like to see a free option included, but I don’t believe this was really the founding intention of Bennett when he set up eBookIt.
The detail for author earnings and revenue details need to far better presented out on the website, and I don’t accept that the Ask a Question option is the best place to bury away critical information an author needs when visiting the website. Sure, we have the CHAT, and CALL options there, but how many authors will be put off if they have to go searching for information?
eBookIt has shown amazing growth in the past two years and this tells me authors want a degree of handholding when it comes to preparation of e-books for publication. If this is your strength, then you play to it. eBookIt can’t be faulted here for providing the handholding suppot. Like Bookbaby’s print division, while eBookIt’s print and distribution offers more, it simply can’t compete with CreateSpace and IngramSpark. It’s a bell and a whistle rather than a piano and violin in the orchestra, and maybe it explains why competitor Bookbaby Print decided against introducing the distribution option.
eBookIt need to iron out some transparency issues when it comes to how it presents information to prospective clients; otherwise, a solid and growing e-book platform for many authors.
PROS—Many services and options in one place; manual input on submitted files; reasonable rates for primary e-book services; multiple file formats facilitated; DRM can be turned on or off; easy e-book validator and dropbox options; print and distribution option available for clients; and impressive market sector growth as an e-book option for authors over the last two years.
CONS—Better support needed for direct sales options; critical info hard to find (more transparency needed); additional charges for changes on files; print mark-ups on distributed print books; e-book proofs only available in PDF; over-reliance on just Ingram as a distribution option; no free set-up option; and limitations on revenue payment options to the author.
(Unlike Bookbaby, I can’t ignore some of the limitations on pricing and print options because eBookIt does offer distribution to trade.)RATING: 7.0/10 (Provisional)
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
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