Blogger in Residence, Chris Kerr, focuses on homegrown small ebook publishers in his latest post.
The words ‘small publishing’ conjure up images physical books lovingly posted out to customers, sometimes with handwritten notes. That said, ebooks are increasingly part of the picture for small presses.
They can transform sales by giving even the smallest presses access to the global ebooks market. Small publishers must do a lot with very little money. Releasing a book as an ebook before printing it can allow them to gauge the audience for a book before signing off on that initial print run. Many presses sell physical and digital books in parallel, while some are digital-only.
The Independent Publishing Fair, part of the recent Noted festival, was a great way to get to know Canberra’s small press landscape up close. I’ve chosen four Canberra small presses with a presence in the ebook market to compare in this post.
Editia ‘is a digital first publishing business focused on longform journalism and non-fiction shorts.’ They offer ebook publishing and print on demand, and emphasise that their titles are available worldwide. They prefer that their titles are available without digital rights management (DRM), where possible.
Platforms: ePub and Kindle. They are upfront on their site that Kindle content is DRM. They include some helpful information on how customers who’ve accidentally bought the wrong format can still get the most out of their purchase, among other things, which is a nice touch.
Prices: $9.99 to $11.99
Blemish Books ‘publish fiction, poetry and essays by new and emerging Australian writers’. Some, but not all, of their titles are available as ebooks. The ebooks are presented in a separate ebooks store.
Platforms: ePub only. They note that ePub books can’t be read on Kindle.
Prices: $5.00 to $10.00
‘FableCroft Publishing is a boutique press dedicated to the future of speculative fiction in Australia.
The creation of Australian editor Tehani Wessely, FableCroft has a charter to promote both emerging and established authors and artists in the speculative fiction field, as well as the broad genre as a whole.’
Platforms: Kindle and ePub. FableCroft’s eBook store is not very intuitive. Some books are only available on Kindle while others are available in ePub through marketplaces like Kobo, Smashwords and iTunes.
Prices: Varies a lot
Between 2010-13 Seizure published six issues of a full-colour literary journal, bringing over 50 new writers into print […].
Platforms: iBooks and Kindle
Prices: approx. $2.99 (iBooks), $3.87 (Kindle)
These four Canberra publishers demonstrate the many different ways of approaching ebooks as a small publisher. The wide range of the ebook prices is quite surprising. It seems like the jury is still out on whether ebooks should be priced roughly the same as print books to avoid undercutting that market, or discounted quite heavily to lure in customers who would never pay face value for a physical copy, plus shipping.
The diversity of platforms on offer is striking too. The variety of platforms and distributors out there make selling ebooks potentially a little confusing. This is still a young industry, and it’s a bit of a jungle out there. The most successful strategy for a small publisher is to make your books available in as many formats as possible and guide customers clearly and honestly through the minefield, so they end up with an ebook in a format they can actually read.
Chris Kerr is a poet, reviewer, editor, publisher, former technical writer and budding copywriter. He co-edited issue 62 of UK Poetry magazine Magma and edited a book forDead Ink. Chris is an assistant editor of the April 2016 issue of Meniscus. He wrote a poem about Chernobyl that appeared in Ambit just after he’d moved to Canberra from London. He’s currently working on a series of collaborative code poems and aspires one day to write a poem about tennis that’s good enough not to bore readers who couldn’t care less about tennis. Chris is still happy that Lana Del Rey set T. S. Eliot to music on her last album. You can follow him on Twitter @c_c_kerr.