Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
In an article posted last week I drew comparison between Writing Life, Kobo’s new self-publishing platform, and three other existing platforms: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!, and Lulu.
If you remember, because Writing Life is not yet released, I had several unanswerable questions about Writing Life. How would its royalty rates compare with the other three platforms? Would there be a price minimum?
Luckily for us, Mark Lefebvre, the director of self-publishing and author relations at Kobo, read my article and was kind enough to write to Appazoogle to help answer these and other questions I had. Thanks to his information, I was able to update all three tables from my last post where information was missing and/or incomplete. (Note: Anything newly added is highlighted in yellow.)
Ease of use
As you can see in the ease of use table, we now know that Writing Life will also accept the Open Office format, an open-source software suite made by Apache. It’s also possible for Kobo authors to upload their ebooks without obtaining ISBNs, although it’s still highly recommended that they do, so their titles can be listed in Kobo’s partner databases such as Chapters/Indigo in Canada, WHSmith in the United Kingdom, and FNAC in France.
In the distribution table, I added the $0.99 minimum price for any books being sold on Kobo for profit; there is no price maximum, and ebooks can still be listed for free. Lefebvre also confirmed that there will be no restrictions on where Kobo authors can sell their ebooks.
Lastly, in the third table I included the royalty details provided to me: authors will get a 70 percent commission on ebooks sold in sixty countries and priced between $1.99 and $12.99; in other territories and at all other price points, the royalty will be 45 percent. And unlike Amazon, which at the 70 percent rate charges a downloading fee of $0.15 / MB, Kobo will not charge any additional fees for its higher rate. Kobo’s lower rate is also slightly higher than both PubIt! and KDP’s lower rates, 40 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Of course, none of those three can compete with Lulu’s 90 percent author royalty in the Lulu marketplace. This doesn’t necessarily mean Lulu reigns supreme, since there are so many other factors to consider (including the customer base of each platform).
Lefebvre also explained the reason Kobo is, up until this point anyway, planning on making its self-published ebooks only available through the Kobo online store. The primary goal for Writing Life isn’t to necessarily compete with existing platforms, but to provide a way for authors who wish to sell their ebooks through Kobo an easier, self-service platform for doing so. Currently, authors can only upload ebooks through a complicated system consisting of several separate programs, including ONIX, Excel, and FTP transfer.
I asked Lefebvre if Kobo has any plans to enter the aggregation business, as Lulu has, pointing out the benefit for authors in being able to access their sales data for multiple retail channels in one central location. Given there isn’t much of a need at this time (there are already many great aggregators available for authors to work with), Writing Life won’t be doing so anytime soon, but he wouldn’t rule it out completely for the future.