eBookMall.com re-launched their publishing services sometime last month. Authors and publishers weren’t able to submit ebooks to be sold on their website for a while during the time that they were making big changes to their website. I was curious whether they’d changed their submission rules and whether they were in line with the current industry standards, so I signed up as an author to find out more about their system. All in all, their requirements and payments seem to be pretty comparable to most other indie services. The way you submit ebooks is a little different but pretty straightforward once you actually get into it. I’ll go over what I thought were the most important aspects below.
Here is the basic overall process for submitting ebooks to eBookMall.com:
- Create an account on their website.
- Email them at ‘submissions (at) ebookmall.com’ to let them know you’re interested in selling your ebooks on their website.
- They send you a package of PDF documents. This includes the official Terms of Service, a guide to submitting ebooks, a guide to having your manuscript converted into ebook format, a guide to sending in author bios and photos, a spreadsheet that you use to organize your ebook data, and a PDF of codes so you can specify things like the category placement that you want.
- You prepare your ebook files and email them in.
- They add your ebooks to eBookMall.com
I thought that these PDF guides were very professionally formatted and easy to use. It is a lot of information to go over, but it’s pretty simple once you just start looking through it. It’s pretty much the same information that you’d get from other websites.
DRM is something that you’ll want to consider. If you submit your ebooks to eBookMall directly through this program, your ebooks will not have DRM. If you have your heart set on having DRM on your ebook downloads, you can still sell your ebooks at eBookMall but you have to do it through a third party: Ingram’s ‘Lightning Source’ ebook distribution (www.lightningsource.com). As far as I know, Lightning Source only accepts publishers, not individual authors, but it’s possible that has changed so you can always look into it. If you sell your ebooks through Lightning Source you can have them distributed out to a lot of ebook websites and they apply Adobe’s DRM to the downloads.
eBookMall is only accepting PDF and ePub formats. They also used to sell Microsoft Reader and Mobipocket, but those formats have both gone by the wayside. Kindle ebooks are not accepted because Kindle ebooks are really only sold at Amazon.
There were a couple restrictions that I noticed while reading through their documents:
First, they require that you are the copyright holder of the ebook (or represent the copyright holder) — they don’t accept any books that have expired into the public domain and they don’t accept ebooks that you can buy and then sell again (those ebooks with resell rights that are kind of junk content).
I also got the overall impression that they want your ebooks to look pretty professional. They probably wouldn’t accept ebooks that look sloppy or unfinished. This is good because you can assume that most ebooks you buy on their website will be good quality, but it might make it tougher for authors who don’t know much about how to create their own ebooks.
There are other minor details as well, like they require your cover images to be sent in as JPGs that are only vertically oriented (as most book covers are). Each ebook submitted has to be under 10 MB. Also, you can submit free ebooks but they will have to pass with stricter rules. Basically they just want to make sure that any submitted free ebooks don’t contain spam or very little value.
The way in which you actually submit your ebooks is a little different than on other websites. Instead of filling in a form online, they want you to prepare a spreadsheet. This might sound intimidating at first, but it’s basically all the same data that you’d type into an online form. I guess I see where they’re coming from with this method because you can use your spreadsheet to submit anywhere from 1 to 10,000 ebooks (or whatever their upper limit is – I didn’t see anything about that) and you don’t have to keep filling in the same form over and over. You’ll probably also be able to just copy&paste a lot of stuff.
In a nutshell, you just enter the standard information about your ebooks: title, author name, filenames of the ebook and cover image, price, categories, whether your file is printable or not, ISBN (not required), product description, and territories where you want the ebooks to be sold. You can limit this to specific countries or sell worldwide. Once you have all of this filled out, all you have to do is email them your spreadsheet, ebook files, and cover image files.
Authors will earn 50% of the sale price. This struck me as kind of low at first, but they also explain that they don’t charge any hidden fees. eBookMall pays for all credit card transaction fees, for example, so their half of the money is eaten up by basic business overhead costs. It might still end up being less than other websites, I’m not sure. Either way, my thought is that you can at least use them as another ebook outlet and earn something rather than nothing.
One restriction to consider is that they’re only paying via PayPal, so you’ll need a PayPal account. They provide live sales reporting so you can always login and check on your sales.
Publishing New eBooks
If you have a book manuscript you can get it converted into a PDF or ePub ebook. They provide a separate guide for this in the package of documents that you get. You have to send them your manuscript in a digital format such as Word, RTF, or Open Office Document. They say that this service starts at $69 but can be more, depending on the book. They don’t do any editing so you have to get that done yourself. They don’t have any specific regulations about page sizes, margins, fonts, etc, but request that you basically lay out your manuscript the way you want it to look when published. So this is a pretty basic service, more of a simple manuscript-to-ebook conversion than actual publishing. The same requirements about owning the copyright apply to this service, and they don’t accept public domain works. They only accept manuscripts written in English.
Project Gutenberg has free downloads of public domain works in .txt .html and .epub formats. They were all created by volunteers over the past 15+ years. These aren’t high quality digital books, but they are free and without DRM, so you can read them on just about any device.
Scribd is a service where users can upload their own documents to share with others. You can download those documents or embed them into your website. Not all of the documents are books, but there are lots of books included.
This site has all legal free downloadable ebooks. I couldn’t find anything on the website saying which formats the ebooks are in, but my guess is that most are PDF.
This is a small but growing collection of free ebooks. Downloads are either PDF or ePub. Some are samples but most are full books by modern authors.
MemoWare has a ton of documents and files that are formatted for different devices. They used to advertize devices like Palm and Pocket PC, but now their website says their files also work on Kindle and Nook.
Amazon has an entire section of their website with free Kindle ebooks.
Adobe has a collection of free sample ebooks that you can download for Adobe Digital Editions. They are PDF and ePub formats.
Free ebooks organized into categories. Some are online and some are links to other websites for a download.
This is a big index of free books that you can find online or for download in PDF format. You could kind of consider it a Wikipedia for free ebooks.
Here is a great free online personality test that will help you find out your personality type according to the Myers Briggs theory based on Jung.
With the free account option you can get access to HTML ebooks and up to 5 downloads in PDF or TXT.
If you want to read ebooks that are protected by Adobe DRM on your iOS device (that includes iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) the app I recommend is Bluefire Reader.
Most of the ebooks being sold by mainstream publishers that are in PDF or ePub format are protected by DRM. Book publishers, just like music publishers, are concerned about software piracy, so they require ebook stores to use Adobe’s DRM on the ebook downloads. Programs like Adobe Reader and other standard programs or apps that read PDF files aren’t set up to deal with that DRM, so you need an app that can handle it.
Here is what you will need to do:
1. Follow my previous instructions for how to set up Adobe Digital Editions correctly. You’ll need to install it and then “authorize” with your Adobe ID.
2. Get the Bluefire Reader app for your iOS device. Download it from iTunes and install it on the device.
3. The first time you open Bluefire Reader, you’ll be asked if you want to authorize it with your Adobe ID. You should go ahead and do it. Just follow the instructions given.
Make sure to use the same ID that you used when you authorized Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. That is how Adobe will allow you to use your ebooks on both your computer and the iOS device.
4. If you haven’t already, get an ebook that you want to read.
5. Transferring Files
Note: This will only work with iOS 4 or later. If you have an iPad you should already have that, but if you have an older iPhone or iPod, update the OS so that you can transfer files from your computer to the device.
a) Connect your device to your computer.
b) Open iTunes and click on your device. It should look something like this:
Obviously if you have an iPad it will say “iPad” or whatever you named your iPad, etc.
c) On the top-center area of the screen, click Apps. In iTunes on my computer, it looks like this:
d) Scroll down to the “File Sharing” section, which should be at the bottom of the screen. Select the Bluefire Reader app from the list, and click “Add”. On my computer it looks like this:
e) Now you can find the ebook that you want to transfer. If you bought a DRM-protected Adobe PDF or ePub file, it should be in a folder called “My Digital Editions”. Any non-DRM ebooks will be wherever you put them on your computer.
It might sync to your device automatically or you might have to perform a sync on your own. After that you should be able to open Bluefire Reader on your device and see the ebook.
I recommend that you find ePub files rather than PDF whenever possible. It seems that most e-readers and ebook apps display them a lot better because ePub files are reflowable, which means that the text of the book can rearrange itself to accommodate your screen size much easier than in PDF files.
This question regarding whether ebooks are printable or not seems to have become less of an issue over the past year or two, as more ebook reader devices have become available and as they have become more popular. Before that, ebooks were being used on the computer more than they are now. Also, people would often purchase an ebook with the intent of downloading it to their computer and then printing a copy.
Personally, I think that’s pretty silly. I am guessing that the idea behind this method is that you could buy an ebook and print it faster than you could buy a paper book and wait for it to be delivered. But when you consider the cost of printer paper and printer ink, I don’t think it makes much sense.
Another situation that might lend itself to printing an ebook is when an independent author has self-published his/her book as an ebook, but it’s not available as a paper book. In that case, a person might be interested in the content of the book but not want to read it on a screen. In this situation, printing an ebook makes a little more sense, but it still seems like way too much trouble to me.
The majority of ebooks that you’ll buy are not printable at all. Let’s consider each popular ebook format separately:
Kindle AZW Format:
I don’t own a Kindle or use Kindle ebooks (I have a BeBook Neo) so I’ve never tried to print a Kindle ebook. However, I searched Amazon’s Kindle Help section and I couldn’t find any information about printing at all. This leads me to believe that Kindle ebooks don’t have a printing function. Since they are designed to be read on Kindle devices, or other Kindle apps for your computer or mobile devices, it makes sense that a printing function would not have been built into the software.
Microsoft Reader Format:
Microsoft Reader ebooks are not printable at all. Microsoft did not build a printing function into the software.
Mobipocket Reader Format:
Mobipocket Reader ebooks are not printable at all. Again, Mobipocket did not build a printing function into the software. This makes sense because even though Mobipocket ebooks can be read on a Windows PC, they were primarily designed for reading on mobile devices like Blackberrys, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, etc.
Palm eReader Format:
Again, same story. There is no printing function because this software was designed to be used on mobile devices.
EPUB ebooks are printable by default. If the EPUB file is being protected by DRM, such as with Adobe’s Content Server DRM, then the publisher of the ebook can disable the printing function. If you’re not sure whether this has been done, it’s safest to assume that you won’t be able to print the ebook. Don’t buy an ebook with the intention of printing it if you’re not sure whether you will be able to print it.
PDF is the most likely candidate for printing, but you still have to make sure that printing hasn’t been disabled by the publisher of the ebook. When a PDF file is created with Adobe Acrobat, the creator of the file can change the document security so that printing is not allowed. (Other features can also be disabled, such as the ability to copy text from the document.)
Other Formats like Word, txt, HTML:
Microsoft Word files, plain text files (.txt) and HTML files are printable. But like I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t consider these files types to be real ebooks.
Should eBooks Be Printable?
My answer is: I don’t think that ebooks need to be printable. One of the main differences between an ebook and a paper book is that the ebook is not printed on paper. If you buy an ebook and then print it, you lose some of the benefits of ebooks like the fact that they don’t use up trees, and the fact that they are digital files that don’t take up physical space.
Many book publishers don’t want their ebooks to be printable because they are concerned about copyright violations. Printing an ebook multiple times with the intention of re-selling it is much easier than scanning a book and then printing off multiple copies.
There are some cases in which an ebook needs to be printable. Some ebooks contain maps, charts, or other graphics that might need to be printed. There are also ebooks that contain plays or sheet music that might need to be printed by the person who is using them. In those cases, it is important that the book publisher leave the printing function available for the consumer. But like I said above, if you are buying an ebook with the intention of printing it, check with the seller before placing your order.
In a nutshell, you can determine fairly easily whether an ebook will be printable or not if you consider the format of the ebook and whether or not it is protected by DRM. If the ebook is EPUB or PDF, it will probably be printable if there is no DRM present. If the ebook is in a format that was designed for use on e-readers or other mobile devices, then it is not printable. If you’re buying a current popular ebook from a mainstream ebook retailer, you should assume that the publisher of the book requires DRM on the download, which will disable printing in most cases.
Bottom line: If you want a printed book, buy a printed book. Don’t buy an ebook.
There are currently many different ebook formats from which to choose. As the ebook industry develops, the amount of formats will probably decrease, as some become standard and others fall away. We’ve already seen this happen to some extent with older e-readers being discontinued and their ebook formats disappearing with them.
These are the most common current ebook formats:
PDF — .pdf
EPUB — .epub
Microsoft Reader — .lit
Mobipocket — .prc
eReader (Palm) — .pdb
Kindle — .azw
There are other formats that can usually be read by e-reader devices, such as .txt and Word files, but I don’t really consider those to be actual ebooks. It’s nice that e-reader devices can display those types of files but they’re really just general text files that you use on your computer.
The best way to choose the format that’s best for you is to make your decision based on what kind of computer or e-reading device you’ll be using. Here is list to get you started:
PDF — Windows, Mac, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Cool-er, Cybook, BeBook, Pandigital Novel
EPUB — Windows, Mac, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Cool-er, Cybook, BeBook, Pandigital Novel
Microsoft Reader — Windows, Windows Mobile
Mobipocket — Windows, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Blackberry, iRex iLiad, Nokia
eReader (Palm) — Windows, Mac, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (Apple devices with Stanza)
Kindle — Amazon Kindle
You should always check the tech specs for your particular device to verify the ebook formats that it can use.
eBookMall has a useful comparison chart that shows many devices, the best ebook format for each, and some tech specs like size and weight. Also, there is a huge chart on Wikipedia that shows a comparison of devices and their supported formats.
I used to recommend that people consider whether they need to print the ebook when choosing a format, but so few ebooks are printable now that it’s almost becoming a non-issue. Your best choice for printable ebooks is PDF, but many (if not most) book publishers disable the printing function on their PDF files because they are concerned about copyright protection. In general, if you need a book on paper, it’s best to just buy the paperback.
The formats listed above are the most common that I’ve seen. If you have an e-reader that reads a different ebook format, please leave a comment and mention it. That might be helpful for others who are trying to figure out which ebook format they should use.