I”m supposed to be writing. I need to be writing or my editor is going to come through my computer and beat me. But there are times when you simply can’t believe what you’re reading. That’s what happened to me as I was skimming the twitter feed through tweedeck over lunch. OMG, just when I thought I’d seen the worst thought out plan from Borders — specifically, asking the bankruptcy court to let them give some of their execs 6 figure bonuses — I came across this: Borders is going to charge educators $75 to publish their books. Yep, you heard me right. For the low price of $75, any teacher can publish their book through Borders and BookBrewer. And just what does the teacher get for her hard earned money? Why she gets a free hard copy of her book.
Now, when I first saw news of this on twitter, I went to the web to find out if it was true or not. It is. Borders is going to charge teachers for the exact same thing they can do for free through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords. And they are ONLY charging $75 for the privilege of getting ripped off.
Okay, I hear you pointing out that the teacher gets a hard copy of her book. That’s an awfully expensive copy of that book. Especially when you consider that you can go POD through CreateSpace and Amazon for free.
So I went to BookBrewer and wasn’t any more impressed than I was with the Borders’ announcement. To begin with, if you use them to create an e-book, they are going to charge you anywhere from $20 – $40. For $20, you get your file converted into an EPUB file and you get distribution. (Read the fine print. If your book is submitted to an online retailer, it can be rejected FOR ANY REASON and there is no recourse that I see.) But it gets better. For $30 they will convert and give you your converted file. NO distribution. For $40, you get it all.
Now, color me skeptical, but you can get all of that from Smashwords for free. And that includes the distribution. Amazon and BN also allow for free upload and you are put into their stores. All right, I hear you saying that BookBrewer converts the book for you. Well, so does Smashwords. All you have to do is have a DOC file that meets their requirements. Then there are these two nifty little programs — Mobipocket Creator and Calibre — that are both free and both very easy to use to create either MOBI friendly files or EPUB files.
But let’s look a little further. Borders promises a free hard copy of the book if the teacher signs up for $79. Now, there’s not a lot of detail specific to the teacher offer online. However, Bookbrewer is currently offering this special: For folks who have already paid BB to create their e-book for them, they can now pay BB an additional $49.99 to create a paperback version of their book. And, gee, you can order your books at a discounted price and then you can set the price to sell them. Sounds an awful lot like vanity publishing, doesn’t it?
Now, I may be missing it, but I don’t see anything regarding this so-called POD that mentions anything about distribution except where it talks about sending copies to the author.
So, let’s see, if you are Joe Blow accountant who wants to be a novelist, you can get your ebook put together by BB for $19.99 and for another $49.99, you can have it made into a print book. If my math is right, that adds up to $69.98. Hmmmm….that’s less than the $75 they are offering to educators as a “special” price. Or is it special because IT COSTS MORE?!?
I have no patience for deals like this. If you know a teacher who is considering it, tell them to run, not walk to Smashwords, Amazon and B&N. Read what they offer — and what they charge (NOTHING) — and then compare that, and their terms of service, with Borders and BB.