eBookIt – Reviewed

ebookit_review_1
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:
    • Manual formatting of submitted file (eBookit has a team of ten formatters)
    • Assignment and provision of ISBN (users have the option of using a free ISBN registered to eBookit or one from their own block of ISBNs)
    • Conversion of submitted book file to all retailer specs and e-book types (including mobi)
  • Quality checks on converted e-book files on e-book reader simulators (includes correction of any obvious errors)
The primary $199 package also includes a PRWeb press release featuring the following:
    • Placement on PRWeb.com
    • Indexed on Major Search Engines (Google, Bing)
    • Placement on Major News Sites (ie., Yahoo!News, topix)
    • 10 Industry News Feeds
    • 5 Regional News Feeds
    • Media Subscribers
    • Enhanced Blogger Visibility (via Zemanta)
    • 2 Media Lists
    • Placement on Premium Web Sites (ie., StreetInsider, Scottrade)
    • Image Placement on Photobucket
    • National Media Distribution Via The Associated Press
    • Distribution to local news sites
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:
    • Google Books
    • iBookstore (Apple)
    • Amazon
    • Barnes and Noble
    • Baker & Taylor
    • Kobo
    • Ingram Digital
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.

    • iBookstore (Apple): 30%
    • Amazon: 30% (retail price between $2.99 – $9.99) or 65% (below $2.99 or over $9.99).
    • Barnes & Noble: 35% (retail price at or between $2.99 and $9.99) or 60% (retail price at or below $2.98 or at or greater than $10.00)
    • Kobo: 45% (varies slightly based on country/currency book is sold)
    • Google: 48.05% (Retailer’s approximate share)
    • eBookIt.com Bookstore: 25%
    • Baker and Taylor: 55%
    • All Others: 55%
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).
Additional Services
eBookIt provide additional services for clients, including Book Cover Design for $99, Proofreading at $16 per 1000 words (pretty expensive for what is basic proofreading), complete Audiobook Production and Distribution (voice production $100-200 per hour, based on 9000 words per hour + $149 distribution), and Book Promotion Services (Press Release Distribution – $195, Press Writing Service – $295, and a US or Global Media Blast – $295).
Print-on-Demand
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:
    • Books must be formatted using eBookIt’s formatting services
    • The POD is only available to existing eBookIt clients
    • Books cannot be set at a retail price resulting in a loss of money
    • Each book project takes 4-6 weeks
    • Trade discount can be set at either 55% or 25%
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. 
Overall
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

If you found this review or article helpful, but you’re still looking for a suitable self-publishing provider to fit your needs as an author, then I’m sure I can help. As a publishing consultant and editor of this magazine, I’ve reviewed and examined in detail more than 150 providers throughout the world like the one above. As a self-published and traditionally published author of nine books, I understand your needs on the path to publication and beyond. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands, and a great deal of your time, why not book one of my personally tailored and affordable consultation sessions today?
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Authors

6 Comments

  1. Shaker said:

    What a rip-off! eBookit is just after money doing all these things that cost authors fortune, while Smashwords does all these for free. No thanks.

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  5. Will said:

    What authors do not understand is that ebookit has no obligation to tell the truth about number of books sold. It’s just that simple. I have had many friends and relatives tell me they purchased one of my books, but it never shows up on ebookit. In addition, Google Analytics shows hundreds of hits. Is this the fault of the retailer, or ebookit? I really don’t care! The industry is rife with lack of oversight. When reported sales are based on honesty, the author gets screwed! That is why I have gone to Bookbaby and the next book will be Amazon, because they advertise for their clients, and pay for sales, albeit not much.

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