GoodEReader recently covered the addition of a suite of self-publishing tools to Penguin Group’s online writing community website, Book Country, but after a few indie authors got a hold of the information from Book Country, the response has been less than appreciative.
In the business of publishing ebooks, authors tend to find that there are two models, both of which have their merits. In one model, such as at sites likes Smashwords, there is no upfront fee to publish an ebook to their site but there is a percentage of sales retained by the platform. Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker was very proud of this fact in an interview with GoodEReader earlier this year, pointing out that a model like that one means there are no barriers to publication for an author, even recounting the story of one homeless author who uploaded his ebook to Smashwords at a computer in his local public library. On the other hand, there are models such as BookBaby’s that charge a one-time upfront fee, but then never take any percentage of the sales, meaning the entire sales price goes to the authors.
Unfortunately, Penguin’s subsidiary Book Country has decided to go with both models. It charges a set-up, or formatting, fee to the authors at the time of upload, then it keeps 30% of the cost of the ebooks sold in royalties above what the platforms already take. For example, an author whose Book Country title sells on Kindle will give 30% of the sales price to Amazon, then will give 30% of the remaining 70% to Book Country.
A number of highly respected self-published authors have spoken out against Book Country’s practices, including David Gaughran and Joe Konrath. For their part, Penguin stands by its pricing model by insisting that the quality of ebook formatting and uploading is superior to that of sites that do not charge the author to upload, and therefore Book Country’s fees are worthwhile.