A Warning for Writers

By Judith Lawrence

Just wanted to give a heads up to our group to ask to see the publisher’s contract for whomever is doing their print and distribution.

I have a writer friend who just broke off a 5 year good relationship with her publisher. Her 1st print book did well, and her second print book did better. Her publisher placed the first book with Bookmate, as an e-book a while ago. He was about to place the 2nd book as an e-book on Bookmate as well when she found out. I thought it strange that the Publisher was doing this so soon, as her book was released less than six months ago, and sales were coming in daily. it’s one of those books that will one day be a classic.

Bookmate is a Russian owned e-book free distribution site where for $5 a month, you can read any of the approximately 500,000 books they advertise in multiple languages. It appears that many publishers are sending their print books for e-publishing.

My friend was not aware that the 1st book was on Bookmate, and has not received any royalties through her publisher or Bookmate. When she complained to Bookmate that she had not agreed to having her e-book listed, they advised her to take it up with Ingram book distributors, who have not replied to her. Her publisher refused to have it removed due to contractual obligations, so she pulled her 2nd book from his publishing company.

Some info below that I gathered about Bookmate.

Bookmate started in a Russian market where piracy was so rampant that publishers had nothing to lose by signing with Bookmate, and it pays publishers from a pool that consists of 50% of its revenues. Safari Online has used a similar model for over a decade, and it does okay.

With 500,000 titles from publishers around the globe, Bookmate now has over 1.5 million subscribers, about 7% of which pay around $5 a month for the service. The fee is collected by Bookmate’s partner telecoms.

Bookmate has also developed reading apps for feature phones. This has let them partner with MVNOs including pay-as-you go companies similar to Tracfone here in the US. In some cases, Bookmate’s partners charge on an incremental day-by-day model, not a monthly fee.

On another subject I found this site about publishers and distributors online that might prove useful. It lists a few to avoid. http://pred-ed.com/peba.ht


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