15 Dec 2010

Yesterday we talked about how you can sell your eBook on Amazon’s Kindle Store and whether you will need an ISBN and an ITIN number to sell on Amazon and the other two big eBook retailers; Apple and Barnes & Noble. In today’s post we are going to look at Apple and B&N in more detail and run through the process of setting-up seller accounts and publishing your eBook on these retailers.

How to sell an eBook on Apple’s iBookstore

Within two months of the launch of the iPad, Apple claimed to have sold over 5 million eBooks and to have grabbed over 20% of the total eBook market. With iPad sales continuing to soar, there seems little reason to expect that the iPad and Apple’s own iBookstore shop will play anything other than a major part in the eBook marketplace during 2011.

iTunes Connect Requirements

To sell your eBook on Apple’s iBookstore (which is accessed via the iBooks app rather than through a traditional online shop) you need to sign-up for an Apple iTunes Connect account. This is similar to Amazon’s KDP service although you don’t upload your eBook via your Connect account (we’ll come to that in a moment). In order to sign-up for a Connect account you will need to meet a few ‘Financial Requirements’ including having a valid US Tax ID and a  valid iTunes account linked to a credit card.

Before your book can be uploaded it will need to be converted to the ePUB eBook format. To convert and upload your eBooks to Apple’s iBookstore you have three choices:

  1. Do It Yourself
  2. Use one of two Apple-approved Conversion Houses
  3. Use a professional eBook Conversion/eBook Aggregator company such as eBookPartnership.com

If you choose the DIY approach you will need to choose which software you use to create your ePUB file, and then download and install Apple’s iTunes Producer software. This only runs on a Mac (running OS X 10.5 or later and with at least 1GB RAM). If you don’t have a Mac then you will need to employ the help of someone who does. iTunes Producer will allow you to upload your ePUB to the iBookstore.

Apple have recently selected two large Conversion Houses to provide conversion at what they tout as ‘special Apple-negotiated rates’. If you choose this option, the price you pay for conversion and upload will depend upon a number of things:

  • the length of your book
  • how many images, footnotes, tables, block quotes and lists(!) it contains
  • whether you want to stick to one of the three pre-determined style options

The third option is to use a company like ours, eBookPartnership.com, that specialise in converting your manuscript to eBook and then distributing it to Apple and other retailers. Different companies have different pricing models and we price based on the length of the book and the type of content. To convert a 256 page novel to both ePUB and Mobi (used for Amazon) we charge just £89. To convert and then upload to both Amazon and Apple costs just £149.

Whichever option you choose, after your eBook has been uploaded you will need to wait for Apple to approve it before it is available to purchase in the iBookstore. The approval process can take anywhere between 1 and 4 weeks, and recently we have sometimes experienced an even longer delay.

How to Sell an eBook on Barnes & Noble (B&N)

B&N recently launched PubIt! – a web-based system to allow self-published authors to sell their eBooks via the B&N website’s NOOKbooks section (named after B&N’s NOOK eReader).

PubIt! is easy on the eye and straightforward. With quirky prompts and help messages, the system is a little like the younger, cooler brother of Amazon’s KDP offering, with a conversion tool, uploading, reporting and support all under the same umbrella.

Unfortunately if you aren’t resident in the United States you probably aren’t going to be able to hang out with PubIt! To sign-up you need to have a US postal address, a US bank account and credit card, and a valid US Tax ID.

Selling an eBook on Barnes & Noble

The ‘add a book’ form on PubIt!

Assuming that you can get through the registration stage, the process of adding your eBook to the NOOKbooks section is pretty easy. There is a long one-page form where you enter all the details about your book and upload your content file. PubIt!  accepts a variety of formats including Word docs and ePUB files. When you have selected your content file you hit the ‘Upload and Preview’ button and PubIt! works its magic, converts your file to ePUB and then allows you to preview your eBook on a NOOK emulator.

As mentioned PubIt! is a fairly new service and users have experienced quite a few bugs and irritating issues. There is a useful FAQ section if you get stuck and there is also a well hidden PubIt! support forum (no longer available).

Well, that’s it for now. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll run through how you can sell your eBook on other retailers such as Kobo, Waterstone’s, Lulu and Smashwords.