There are many mediums for ebook publishing today. But how does a publisher or author choose which one to use? Or does he or she even have to choose at all?
Now that the iPad has captured 22 per cent of the ebook market in it's first 60 days, authors are clamouring to get their books into the iBookstore. What most are finding out is that publishing on the iPad is no simple task. Where Amazon has had three years to make publishing eBooks on Kindle a snap, Apple is just now clunking up to speed. The publishing process on iPad is almost not worth it, until you weigh in the fact that the iBookstore is now available on over three million iPads and all iPhones with the new iOS 4 - that's a potential audience of over 40 million people. That's right, it's not just ebooks on the iPad anymore, it's seamless distribution through the iPhone, too. Add to this a major push by Barnes and Noble and Borders to build their own eBookstore platforms and your ebooks could reach over 100 million readers.
A Little Ebook History
Back in 1999 Nuvomedia built one of the first ebook readers. It was called the Rocket ebook and they thought they were turning a new page in publishing history. Unfortunately, they were 10 years too early. The connection between buying and reading books was too clunky. It wasn't until Amazon tied Kindle to a cellular network and made it possible to browse and purchase ebooks with one click, that the revolution began. Once readers could make compulsive book purchases, Kindle sales took off.
Then Amazon made another amazing move, they built a Kindle iPhone App. This was critical because it turned every single iPhone into a Kindle. This was a major turning point in the development of ebooks - the bookstore was more important than the device. Now Kindle apps are available on iPad, Android, Blackberry, Mac and PC.
Modern Day eBookstores
Today Apple, Barnes and Noble, Borders and even newcomers like Kobo are creating their own eBookstores and mobile eReading Apps. Initially these bookstores were tied to devices like the iPad, Kindle, Nook and the Kobo, but the device is less important than who sells the book. And as each company creates its own platform for selling books we need to find easier, faster ways to publish them-and to make them available in all the different stores.
When Kindle and the iBookstore first opened they focused primarily on big publishing companies with top sellers. Then they slowly made it possible for self-publishers to get their content into the store. Today you have to jump through some hoops to get your books listed, but it's possible. The biggest problem is getting your content into the right format so it can flow nicely on all the different eReaders. Amazon created their own format and Apple went with the industry standard ePUB format. Unfortunately most authors don't have a clue what an ePUB is or how to turn their beautiful PDF into one. Enter the publishing service providers.
Though it gets more complicated for authors to publish and manage their own books, services like FastPencil.com are making it easier. By using a service, authors can focus on their content and leave the formatting, publishing and distribution to FastPencil. Unlike Lulu.com or CreateSpace.com, FastPencil is the only online publishing system that provides authors with a free online book editor, free formatting and design templates and totally integrated publishing and distribution for all platforms-including print-on-demand and ebooks.
As a result, it's much easier to publish your ebook on all the different devices-iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo - and reach your readers when they are ready to buy. You don't have to worry about ePUB formats, design or distribution. You can do what you were meant to do: write.
Suggestions for Ebook Publishing
Having helped thousands of authors get over the hurdles on their way to publishing, I've come up with three suggestions that can save you a lot of trouble and help you decide where and how to sell more books.
1. Self-publishing is for workaholics-use a service. Before you dive into Self-publishing make sure you are ready to start your own business. Self-publishing is essentially acting as your own publisher which means you have to register ISBNs, collect sales taxes and manage a business. There's a better way to do it using online service providers like FastPencil.com who will manage everything for you, collect taxes and pay huge royalties.
2. Don't limit yourself-publish multiple formats in every channel. When you want to sell copies of your book why limit yourself to just the Kindle or just paperback? Readers in the future will not walk into bookstores, browse around and buy books. They will hear about a book from a friend, look it up on a mobile device, download a copy and start reading within 15 minutes. You want to be there when they come looking.
3. Link directly to your book-readers want instant gratification. Take advantage of every new marketing and sales tools available to get your book in front of your readers. Get direct links to your book on Kindle and iPad and put them on your web site or blog. Learn from the Rocket ebook experience and make it fast and easy to order your book.
Kindle, iPad, Nook, Kobo?
Kindle is by far the leader in ebook sales today, but Apple is gaining marketshare fast. The iBookstore is really hard to get into, but if you use a service like FastPencil it's a snap. Barnes & Noble is setting up their own publishers system this year for the Nook, and Borders has partnered up with Kobo to do the same thing. The ideal situation would be to release your book into all the different bookstores and also provide direct links for your readers from your web site or blog.
Today it's easier than ever to write, publish and sell your book. Couple that with the extensive reach of these new eBookstores and authors have an opportunity like no other time in history. Don't get caught up on the whether to stick with Kindle or iPad... do both!
Mash is Founder & Chief Technology Officer at FastPencil, Inc. which helps authors connect, write, publish and distribute books with just a few clicks. He is a successful entrepreneur with over 12 years experience in web applications and Internet publishing. Mash is responsible for innovation and product strategy at FastPencil. In this role, Mash has transformed the company from an online writing tool, to the only end-to-end social self-publishing platform with multi-channel, multi-format distribution. In his free time you can find him stand-up paddle surfing in his hometown, Santa Cruz.