Getting Started with Barnes & Noble’s Pubit!—A Mini-Tutorial

by Joel Friedlander on March 30, 2011 · 33 comments

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Although Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader is the dominant force in the e-book world at the moment, Barnes & Noble, the business based on a huge network of brick-and-mortar book superstores, is also growing.

With the launch of the Nook Color last year, Barnes & Noble has gone the Kindle one better, and people who have tried the Nook seem to like it quite a bit. Barnes & Noble also allows Nook owners to bring them into a store and read any book for free for an hour at a time, from the collection of over 2 million titles.

Like Kindle, Nook has apps that allow you to purchase and read your Nook books on your iPad, your smartphone and your PC as well as on the readers themselves.

I’ve seen estimates that over 3 million Nook Color e-readers have been sold, and that Nook now accounts for 25% of the e-book market. That’s a lot of potential customers. To make it easy for indie authors to sell their books for the Nook and the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble has installed a simple and easy to use interface. They call their publishing program Pubit!

Even Easier Than Kindle?

I went over to the Pubit! site to check it out and upload the ePub files of A Self-Publisher’s Companion. These were prepared for me by Joshua Tallent at ebookarchitects.com.

You’ll have to go through the usual Account Setup, and I won’t bore you with that. Even though you’re a seller, you’ll have to give up a credit card, too.

But that only takes a minute, and then you get to the main dashboard and data entry area.

Pubit! has cooked the whole e-book submission process down to one screen, and it’s a pleasure to use. Here’s a look:


Barnes & Noble Pubit!

In 5 easy-to-follow steps, you’re lead through all the information needed to get your book into the Barnes & Noble system. This is publishing at its simplest and most streamlined. Here’s what you can expect.

  • Product listing, including the book title, price, author, publication date and publisher name.
  • Upload Your eBook provides a browse and upload utility. It’s highly recommended that you have your book converted to ePub files first, although you should know that you can upload a Word file and Pubit! will convert it for you, you just don’t know what you’ll get.
  • Upload Your Cover Image gives you another browse and upload utility for a 5KB to 2MB JPG of your cover.
  • Help Readers Find Your eBook asks for ISBN, for a related print edition, the age group of your target market, the language in which the book is written, the geographic rights you’re able to assign, and whether you want your e-book protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management) which may or may not prevent a buyer from making illegal copies of your files.
  • Tell Us More About Your eBook is the crucial section for your marketing efforts. Obviously you want to get all the numbers right in the first sections, but here you’ll be able to pick five subject categories (Kindle only allows you two), create an author bio (about 400-500 words) and enter reviews you’ve received. The other two areas here are keywords (you get 100 characters—use them wisely) and a Description field that will allow about 800 words (5000 characters). This is a huge opportunity to put your best, benefit-oriented, keyword rich copy to work. Really work on this book description because it will become the basic sales copy in the Nook store.

After your upload, you’ll get a chance to look at your e-book in a Nook emulator. Here’s what it looks like:

Nook emulator

Click to enlarge

Here’s the handy category picker:PubitCategories

Making Money With Pubit!

The pricing policy is clearly spelled out in the excellent and space-efficient help section. Pubit! tries to get you to price your e-book between $.99 and $9.99. It tries hard. In this range you will earn a 65% royalty, so a sale of a $9.99 book will yield you $6.49. However, go outside those bounds and your royalty drops drastically to 40%. This means that you will earn more with a book priced at $9.99 than you will with one priced at $15.00 ($6.00 royalty). So you can see they mean business. The maximum price allowed is $199.99.

As with Kindle, you have to keep the price of your e-book consistent across retailers.

About As Easy As It Gets

Having published many print books, it’s almost eerie how easy it is to publish e-books, whether on Kindle or Pubit! The whole Pubit! experience is well designed. The dashboard has four tabs that give you access to sales reports, payments, help topics, your books, and your account info.

If you have all your copy ready before you log on—and you should have this copy written out in advance for the many places you’ll need it—the whole process takes less than 15 minutes.

Now if we could only get these companies to agree on one, flexible, sophisticated and user-friendly file format, e-books would really take off.

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    { 32 comments… read them below or add one }

    Christopher Wills March 30, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Looks interesting and great news that a big company is joining the train. But how is this going to affect Smashwords, as they currently supply B&N? Also, why would an author sign up to pubit when using Smashwords once means they get their books on Smashwords site, in B&N, on Apple’s ibookstore, in Sony and in Kobo?

    Still, all this competition could lead to better deals for authors and a better quality service hopefully.

    Is it me or is it getting confusing?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Chris, I don’t think this will affect Smashwords too much. The service they perform is pretty valuable, whether you’re capable of uploading your own file or not. They cover lots of retailers, do ePub and Kindle conversions, and manage the payments from all the retailers.

    On the other hand, you can’t use your own ePub files with Smashwords, you have to go through their converter. Although their service is free, I wanted to have more control over the e-book files, so I had my own conversions done, eliminating Smashwords as a possibility for this book.

    Reply

    Keith B. Darrell March 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Joel, are you aware that, unlike Amazon, PubIt requires authors to give them a credit card to keep on file and that its terms state: “Your PubIt! account will be placed on hold and all of your eBooks will be taken off sale if one of the following has occurred: The credit card on file with PubIt! has expired.” .” Why do you need to give them a credit card? What services are you buying? “Barnes & Noble will provide refunds to customers who are unsatisfied with their eBook purchases. Returns will appear on your My Sales report and will be deducted from your next payment.” But, if there are more returns than sales, B&N will charge the author’s credit card for the returns.

    Reply

    Keith B. Darrell March 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Also, PubIt’s terms also state: “Please be aware that the following content is unacceptable and submitting or posting said content in your eBook file, cover image, or product data will result in immediate termination of your account: Advertisements: Material contained within your eBook that primarily seeks to sell a product other than the eBook itself…” and “Hyperlinks of any kind, including email addresses… Advertisements or promotional material” (even for the author’s other books!) and “Contact information for the author or publisher.” So, an author would not be permitted to include an e-mail address to be contacted for foreign rights or a preview of an upcoming book, or a link to a blog, Facebook, web page, or other social media site.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Keith, yes I read the part about credit cards, too. I wonder how common it is to “return” an ebook, and where do you take it to “return” it?

    There are lots of links in the book I published on Pubit! so it will be interesting to see what happens with that. Although I would rather have the freedom to put ads or links to my website, etc. in the book, it doesn’t really bother me. After all, my domain name is in the subtitle of the book.

    Thanks for giving extra information for readers, Keith.

    Reply

    Linda Cassidy Lewis April 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I believe the ban on hyperlinks pertains only to the product description.

    From the PubIt FAQ:

    The information that describes your eBook (Product Data) is also subject to our Content Policy. Please note the following data points that are not permitted in your Product Data:

    * Hyperlinks of any kind, including email addresses.
    * Request for action (i.e.: “If you like this book, please write me a review.”).
    * Advertisements or promotional material (including author events, seminars, etc.).
    * Contact information for the author or publisher.

    Reply

    Keith B. Darrell April 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    The Barnes & Noble PubIt terms are listed here – http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=reg_terms_print . They incorporate by reference several other documents, including their Privacy Policy, their Service Policies, and their Content Policy. Their content policy is located here -http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=support#content_policy listed as on their FAQ page as a subsection of their “Service Policies”. From the way it is listed, Product data falls under “Content Policies”, so it would appear to apply to any and all “information that describes your eBook (Product Data)” that appears within the content of the ebook itself. As you noted Linda, B&N states:

    The information that describes your eBook (Product Data) is also subject to our Content Policy. Please note the following data points that are not permitted in your Product Data:

    * Hyperlinks of any kind, including email addresses.
    * Request for action (i.e.: “If you like this book, please write me a review.”).
    * Advertisements or promotional material (including author events, seminars, etc.).
    * Contact information for the author or publisher.

    What is “information that describes your eBook”? Would that include the copyright page? Suppose you include your company’s URL or e-mail on the copyright page? My reading of this, based on 25 years as an attorney, is that B&N could argue such inclusions would violate their terms. Admittedly, it is a poorly drafted legal document, as evidenced by the ambiguity it creates. I read through their entire documentation and found eight other points I did not like and concluded that my publishing company would not be using PubIt unless or until it modifies its terms.

    There are a lot of publishing options out there today, and publishers (and authors) should not rush blindly into contracts.

    Reply

    Linda Cassidy Lewis April 3, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Keith, I have a book in processing with PubIt right now and it contains both an email address to the publisher and a link to my website on the copyright page, so I guess I’ll soon find out if that violates their terms.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 3, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Keith,

    Thanks for your informed and educational comment. Certainly authors who become publishers need to learn to review contracts carefully and most especially, make sure they understand what they are signing.

    Like Linda, I also have a book under review at Publit. My practice is to download all contracts, including the 30-page contracts where you are only shown a few lines in a window that has an “I Agree” check box below it, and copy them to a file where I can read them in a better environment.

    My decision to publish with Pubit! was based on getting access to their reader base and on the Nook, which looks to me to be becoming more popular. Knowing the restrictions, I was willing to trade off the ability to link out to other resources to play in their ballpark. Other publishers have to decide for themselves what they think is in their best interests, and I encourage them to do so.

    Reply

    Keith B. Darrell April 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Joel,

    My decision not to distribute through PubIt (and let’s call them what they are, a distributor, not a publisher), was based on a review of their stated terms in which I found 9 deal-breakers for me, including the credit card issue. These issues included content censorship, restrictions on trade, lowered payout compared to Amazon, chargebacks for returns, and the credit card issue.

    As a publisher, I have turned down many contracts with distributors because I found the terms unfavorable. These contracts were usually offered on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis by larger entities who, recognizing their unequal baragining position, offered non-negotiable contracts (the very nature of a contract is that it should represent the negotiations of the parties) that sought to force their unreasonable terms on naive authors and novice publishers, so eager to be published and distributed that they skimmed by the small print. Well, that small print means something, folks; that’s why they insist you sign it! So as I said, as a publisher, I turned down many contracts that I was told I couldn’t afford to pass on. Seven years later, my publishing company is still here and thriving; a few of those same distributors have gone under. Moral: Read the fine print; stick o your guns; don’t be cowed into going with the herd.

    PubIt is a new entry, trying to catch up with Amazon. I hope, as it matures, that it will tweak its terms to make them more palatable. B& N is a good comapny; I deal with them on a regular basis, and I am sure they will eventually adjust their terms, and when they do, I look forward to distributing through PubIt.

    On a similar note, I received a contract from another distributor last week. Although I wanted to add the device represented by this particular distributor, I found the contract to be totally unacceptable. Sometimes you have to be able to walk away. (I am not at liberty to divulge the names of the parties involved, but I will note that the contract was one of the most unfair, one-sided, disadvantageous I have ever read, and my initial though was one would have to be a moron to agree to these terms. I suspect I was in the minority of those who bothered to read the contract, within a smaller number who actually understood its wording and implications, and within a negligible number who refused to sign it).

    Another aside on contracts: The terms and words used in contracts do not always have their common, ordinary, everyday meaning. What may seem like an obvious meaning to a layman may very well be interpreted to mean something completely different by law, or by a judge. Always consult an attorney before signing a contract. Yes I know attorneys are expensive, but they are also a deductible business expense. Ignorance is more expensive.

    Joel Friedlander April 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks, Linda, that’s really helpful. Love your blog, by the way, you might think about submitting one of your self-publishing posts to our Carnival of the Indies.

    Reply

    Linda Cassidy Lewis April 3, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Thank you, Joel. I’ll keep Carnival of Indies in mind. And thank you for this blog. I’ve learned a lot from your posts.

    Reply

    Nick Daws March 31, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Great article, but worth pointing out that, according to their T&Cs, to use Pubit you must have “a valid U.S. Bank Account, U.S. Credit Card, and U.S. Tax ID”. In practice, that means it is only currently open to US authors, and not those in the UK (or elsewhere) like me.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 31, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for filling readers in about their policy, Nick.

    Reply

    Wolf DeVille November 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I just wanted to mention that B&N/ Pubit want to have world wide rights in their contract, even if they are only in the US.

    Reply

    James Byrd April 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Thanks for the great overview of using PubIt! Joel. I’ve been wondering what it would be like to publish directly through them. The book we published through Smashwords is distributed to B&N, but it has back matter pages that promote other things. It seems that going through Smashwords lets you publish under a different set of T&C.

    Although Smashwords is an excellent service, like you I’d like more control over the formatting of our epub files, which is why I’ve started looking into publishing directly through services like PubIt! and will also look at the iBookStore.

    It’s good to keep in mind that services like PubIt! are not mutually-exclusive with using Smashwords in general. You can always “turn off” distribution to an individual vendor if you plan to use that vendor’s service directly. For example, we turned off Amazon, since we already use KDP for that title. Of course, the Smashwords feed to Amazon isn’t functioning yet anyway, so it isn’t much of a worry, but if Mark ever gets that baby rolling, we won’t have a conflict.

    Reply

    Stephanie Maier April 6, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Joel, this is my first time reading your blog, and it’s been extremely helpful and informative.

    Question re PubIt!: Can you publish on PubIt! AND ALSO on Smashwords or some other ebook publisher? Is this possible and is it a good way to get more potential readers?

    Also, does anyone here know of someone who’s making money through PubIt! or Smashwords, and if so, (you may have a blog on this) what are good marketing methods to get your ebook noticed in the sea of e books? My problem is that where ever I choose to publish it, I think it will just be buried in a sea of thousands of e books, so who will ever know about it?

    I know that’s a very basic marketing 101 question, but perhaps someone will indulge me or point me in the right direction. I know about having a website and using social media, blah blah, I was just wondering if there’s any marketing ability within PubIt! or Smashwords themselves.

    Thanks for the info.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Hi Stepanie,

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog, there are over 500 articles here on book design, self-publishing and related topics.

    Both Pubit! and Smashwords are non-exclusive, so it’s fine to put your book at both if you like. Keep in mind that BN.com is a retailer, while Smashwords also acts as a distributor. Neither of these companies will do anything to market your book—that’s your job. There’s a ton of book marketing advice freely available, so I would explore and use that before considering anything that costs you $$ since results may be hard to come by.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

    Reply

    Richard LYNTTON April 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Joel,
    Excellent info … Thanks.
    Further to question above from Stephanie, is there
    Any reason why u wouldn’t put an ebook
    On more than one platform … ie. Pubit and Amazon and apple etc.
    Best,
    Richard

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Richard, there’s no reason not to put your book with any and all of these retailers, since their arrangements are non-exclusive. You should keep your pricing uniform though wherever you are selling. You’ll also need one set of files for Pubit! and a different set of files for Kindle.

    Reply

    Ankur Choudhury April 18, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Hi there. I’m thinking about publishing my 2nd book in e book format. I was thinking of using Pubit affiliated with Barnes and Noble. Can I also publish it through Amazon Kindle at the same time as I retain the rights to self publish.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 18, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Hi Ankur,

    Yes, you can publish with all of them, since each agreement is non-exclusive.

    Reply

    Lou Maurio August 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Hi Joel,
    I had my book converted to an epub file and and a mobi file,
    but neither plays on the ipad. When I download a book from the ibook store those books work. Does my book have to have something esl done to it to work.

    Reply

    Jeff Rasley December 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Joel, I have uploaded 3 books through Pubit. 2 have several photos in them as they are adventure travel books. The photos is one came through beautifully, but the photos in the other show as a blank frame with a large red X inside. Both docs were in Word with the photos pasted into the doc. Any idea why the photos show in one but not the other?

    The doc in which the photos failed is larger with more photos, but well under the 20 MB limit.

    P.S. My website link is contained in all 3 books which were accepted.

    Reply

    Elyse March 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

    The thing that bothers me is why do they need a credit card and your bank account? I mean it makes them sounds like they are after your money and will hack your accounts. I was never asked for these items when I was starting out on amazon’s kindle for self-publishing.

    Reply

    James Byrd March 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

    They want your bank account information so they can direct-deposit money into it. I’m personally a big fan of this kind of “magic money” residual income.

    They want your credit card information because there is always the possibility that returns in one period will outnumber the sales during that period. For example, you sell 10 books in one period, and the next period you sell 1 book, but get 5 returns. In that situation, they want back the royalties they paid you on the returned books, and your 1 sale doesn’t cover it. They charge your credit card for the royalties on the remaining 4 books.

    In my experience, this situation is extremely rare. E-book return rates and POD print return rates don’t seem to be anywhere near what we’ve seen in the traditional print industry. This is mainly because most returns in traditional channels are store returns, not actually customer returns.

    Reply

    Scott Medbury July 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Worse than that, Pubit is pathetically UScentric, E-books span the world, no borders! Amazon recognises this, and it is why it will continue to outpace and grab majority market share. With Pubit, a publisher must have a US bank account, A US CREDIT CARD and a US tax number….all extremely difficult to obtain even for UK or Australian residents, none of this is required on Amazon. Wake up Pubit!

    Reply

    Narelle February 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Is there any way that an Australian author can publish an ebook directly with Barnes & Noble (via Pubit)? My husband & I are currently using Smashwords to distribute our ebooks, however we are experiencing constant delays with Smashwords distributing to Barnes & Noble. Sometimes it is taking up to 4 weeks after uploading our books onto Smashwords before the books appear on Barnes & Noble. We don’t have a US bank account or a US credit card.

    Reply

    Ellie Crowe March 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Thks for all your info. I’d appreciate your advice on 2013 Nook color. Shall I upload a picture book 6wide and 9 high or is the screen now bigger? Is 150 the correct resolution? The book has pictures and two lines of text per page.

    best wishes and thanks fo any info on picture books

    Reply

    Cari Silverwood September 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Australians can get a US ITIN number from the IRS or you can get anEIN even easier.

    You can also get a bank account with Payoneer and use that to receive payments as they are US and thus you get a US bank account. They have various charges, of course, but it’s an option to consider. This is what I’m doing for direct deposit with Amazon so I don’t have to always get those pesky checks/ cheques sent overseas. For large amounts I still get checks though. I am about to look at going direct to B & N myself.

    For aussies, Though you can get an ITIN, it’s is really difficult nowadays to jump through all those hoops. Do the EIN instead.
    This link is to a guide for getting either.

    http://angelacastle.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/aussie-author-guide-to-getting-itin-or.html

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the link, Cari, that’s helpful for Aussie readers. Not sure how many people will see it, since Pubit has been replaced by Nook Press.

    Reply

    Cari Silverwood September 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Yes, I realised this today. A friend still called it Pubit, which misled me.
    Feel free to add the information to a post if you have any need to do that.

    Reply

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