March 14, 2011
Today I welcome author Nadia Lee to my blog. She's here to talk about a subject that has many international readers in state of desperation as sometimes publishers make it hard for us to purchase and read the English books we want to read so badly. Nadia has written an eloquent and clear post about this and I am proud and honored she decided to share it with you all on my little corner of the web.



About Nadia Lee:
Bilingual former management consultant Nadia Lee ( http://www.nadialee.net ) has lived in four different countries and enjoyed many adventures and excellent food around the globe. In the last eight years, she has kissed stingrays, got bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.

She shares an apartment overlooking a river and palm trees in Japan with her husband, an ever-changing collection of winter white hamsters and an ever-widening pile of books. When she's not writing, she can be found digging through old Asian historical texts or planning another trip.



Carnal Secrets is her latest work. You can find the blurb and excerpt on her website 
or purchase a copy from All Romance eBooks , Amazon Kindle US , Amazon Kindle UK , B&N Nook  or Smashwords

I read CARNAL SECRETS a few weeks back for review and will post my review this Wednesday. Make sure you come back to read what I have to say about Nadia Lee's lovely contemporary romance...


Take it away, Nadia...

Distribution: the Issues of DRM and Geographic Restrictions


For those of you who know me on Twitter or Facebook are probably aware that I intensely dislike DRM and geo restriction on ebooks. DRM signals "You aren't trustworthy". Geo restrictions signal "Your money isn't good enough to buy this just because you aren't in America (and/or Canada)". Now the latter one is a bit tricky, especially if the rights granted to the publisher do not cover all territories. Publishers can't just make something available all over the world if the contract says, "the U.S. only".

When I walked away from the deal on Carnal Secrets (if you want to read about that, please check out the following blog posts: "Read the Fine Print" [ http://zoewinters.wordpress.com ] and "Walking Away Can Be Hard" [ http://kaitnolan.com ]), I knew I had to do everything alone, and in order to succeed, I had to do it just as well as what the publisher who'd offered would've done, if not better. (If you'd like to know how I approached self-publishing, feel free to check out my guest blog post from last Thursday on Love Romance Passion [ http://www.loveromancepassion.com ].)

With that in mind, I approached distribution with two objectives:


  1.  Make the book available in as many places as possible.
  2.  Make the book DRM-free, geo restriction-free and speech-enabled.



For most authors doing it themselves, the most obvious option is Amazon Kindle. I create a PRC file myself, using HTML, to add the cover, table of contents and so on. (I love getting an ebook with a pretty cover. I'm shallow like that. :-) ) This file gets tested on Kindle for PC and uploaded. I always enable global distribution and opt out of DRM.

(For those of you who don't know this -- Kindle asks indie authors if they'd like to add DRM on their ebooks. So buying from indie authors does not guarantee that your Kindle book will be DRM-free because there are some who believe that DRM is absolutely necessary to stop piracy. *sigh* And this applies to Nook ebooks as well.)

And when we talk about Kindle, we can't not talk about Nook from Barnes and Noble, Amazon's biggest book retailer rival right now. Again, I created an epub file with the cover and all. But what I don't understand about Nook is that even though I opted out of DRM and enabled worldwide distribution, on the actual B&N Nook sales page, Nook books are available for customers in the U.S. only.

If I remember correctly, Nook is not available outside of the U.S. so perhaps B&N decided to restrict Nook purchases to the U.S. only. But for authors interested in making their books available to international readers, it can be a bit frustrating. I sincerely hope that Nook ereaders and ebooks become available to international readers soon.

Anyway, though I always enable worldwide distribution, it makes me unhappy that my readers who live outside the U.S. cannot get my books from Nook, and those who live in other countries (not including Canada or the UK) have to pay extra $2.00 to buy from Amazon Kindle. It seems hardly fair since Amazon pays half the regular royalty for international sales. So authors make less money, and international readers pay more. I ask you.

When I mentioned this to Zoe Winters, she told me to put my books up on Smashwords. It's not as slick as Kindle or Nook, and it pays authors quarterly, not monthly like Kindle and Nook. Books there don't usually come with covers and so on. But it allows for DRM-free global distribution, and international readers don't have to pay anything extra or go through any hassle to get the books they want. In addition, Smashwords has multiple file options (pdf, epub, prc / mobi, Sony, etc.), and readers can always go back and redownload their ebooks. It's extra work to format for Smashwords, but I went to work immediately. I don't believe readers who are already well-served by Kindle and Nook care, but I wanted to give another option for international readers.

Smashwords also pushes books to Apple, Kobo, Sony and Diesel. I have no idea if they apply DRM or geo restrict books there. I hope not, but whatever they do is completely out of my control. (And you thought indie authors had 100% control over everything! Ha!)

Finally, I put my books on All Romance eBooks (ARe). I like their interface and reporting tool, and I don't believe they add DRM or geo restrictions. But I honestly have no idea how easy it is for readers to use ARe. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on this.

Now that I've shared the process behind distributing ebooks as an indie author, it's your turn: Who's your favorite ebook vendor? Why do you buy from there? What do you wish ebook vendors did differently?

Also, for those of you interested in the cover art process, please stop by Monkey Bear Reviews ( http://www.monkeybearreviews.com ) tomorrow. I'll be discussing creating a cover with non-white characters. :-)

14 comments:

Teresa D'Amario said...

Hey Nadia - hope you're safe now, because I'm guessing this was sent before the earthquake. I've been thinking about you.

Anyway, I actually chose to put my book in multiple locations. It's on Smashwords, it's on allromanceebooks, 1placeforromance.com, amazon, and it's on Barnes and Noble. So far allromanceebooks.com and amazon are my two bigger sales points. I've sold a few on smashwords, a few on B&N and none on 1placeforromance.com (which is, btw, a very new place, so feel free to check it out).

I have mixed feelings on DRM. Prob cuz I have a kindle, and not an ipad. If everyone had an ipad, I'd be all for DRM - because you can get apps to read all sources and DRM is not an issue. But with the Kindle, I cannot shop at B&N, or apple store, if they are having sales. I'm stuck with amazon, or other places like allromanceebooks.com and 1placeforromance.com. Not that those places are bad, cuz they aren't. I love them. But sometimes B&N has a great sale I want to participate in. Ahh, such is life. But I really do have three very great places to shop.

Nadia Lee said...

Hi Teresa,

We're doing okay. My area is totally unaffected, and I feel very lucky and blessed, though I'm very sad for everyone in Tohoku.

I'll definitely check out 1placeforromance.com. My experience is same as yours: I sell pretty well on Amazon and ARe, but not so well on BN and Smashwords. OTOH, Smashwords UI is not very user-friendly, and it's hard to search for books there.

How do you like your Kindle? I'm thinking about getting a dedicated e-reader, but haven't decided on the model or anything like that yet.

Leontine said...

Hi Nadia - DRM and GEO restrictions are hot buttons for me as well because IMO it doesn't prevent piracy, it only stimulates it because the book format remains unavailable for legal purchase! The utter frustration of not being able to purchase an e-book *ARGH* I always told myself I'm a print book kind of gal but then a little thing called space became very rare on the shelves so I thought; every new series I start, I will get in e-book. Well, forget it. Last year it all started with Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke and from there on I got rejected every time if I wanted to buy e-format of a book from the major publishers. The thing that's so weird about it; I can buy the print version of each of those books fairly easy! That's adding to the frustration.

I know publishers can't change their rules/contracts over night but I get the feeling that it doesn't even bother them. The feeling of getting ignored simply because I do not have a US or CA zipcode infuriates me. Like anyone else, it's hard earned cash I'm willing to give them and IMO these days every dollar is one towards the goal of profit, for the author AND the publisher!

To my knowledge Kindle and Nook are not available for Europeans with the option to buy at amazon or B&N :( When I looked for an e-reader I wanted one like Sony/CyBook Gen3 or the BeBook. I absolutely love the website Smashwords, simple but very effective and easy to buy there as well. I tend to gravitate towards websites like fictionwise and I only used ARe once but no complaints there either :)

The times are changing for readers and authors, even for publishers though they may not like it.

Jodie said...

Diesel is one of the biggest advocates against GEO-R. Unfortunately as a business, they are forced to bow to the whims of publishers, but they do understand how this maddens consumers and even authors. http://blog.diesel-ebooks.com/?p=704

I also believe that GEO-R has NO legal bearing on the consumer. It shouldn't since this stuff is supposed to be for importers NOT individuals. Sure, they want to protect publishers in other countries, but the simple solution is IP tracking (which sites such as B&N & Kobo do, lets face it). Wherein, by using this, IPs within a certain country will see a %. Just and idea.

I firmly believe, this choke hold the publishers think they have on the ebook industry will fail with the growth of indie epubs who DON'T have this baggage to annoy readers and also self-publishing.

maldivianbookreviewer said...

Hi Nadia,
I come from a place where even Amazon Kindle content isn't available for purchase.
But I have found a workaround solution to that because purchasing Kindle content is important for me since I own one. And with the hideous shipping prices to our country, it is thus far less expensive for me to buy e-books.
I fully support your endeavor to bring about a change which should have happened a long time back.
It really pisses me off to no end when I want to pay for books, to own them and to legally be able to read them ONLY to find out that book sellers really do not want my money? Sheesh!

Blodeuedd said...

Since I haven't truly started reading ebooks yet I have no fav site. But as I have read some I do think Smawshword is excellent. I love that I can dl whatever format I want

Nadia Lee said...

Leontine -- I agree, though I think geo res isn't to prevent piracy, but rather to protect non-US publishers / territories.

I don't know why they enforce geo res on ebooks, when they don't do that for print books. It makes zero sense to me. Thank god for BookDepository, though I'm out of space now. I have a US bank account and a US bank-issued credit card, but even then it's hard to buy ebooks just because I'm not in the States. :-(

Nadia Lee said...

Jodie -- I've never bought anything from Diesel, so I have no idea how it works. I don't know any e-book vendors who are happy about having fewer customers. Money is money is money, and I don't think they care if it's from a US-based customer or not.

Nadia Lee said...

maldivianbookreviewer --

Oh I'm so sorry! That's got to be horrible. Does BookDepository deliver to your country? They ship intl for free, so I've been using their service a lot.

I totally understand your frustration! It's so hard for me to buy books these days. Ebooks are mostly unavailable, and print books take 2-3 weeks (delivery time).

Nadia Lee said...

Blodeuedd -- Yes! I love Smashwords, too, because of the format options and the fact that I can redownload the books I bought earlier in case I lost them or something.

And speaking as an author w/ books on sale on Smashwords, Smashwords royalty % is really good, better than many ebook sellers actually.

pattepoilue said...

This is a hot topic to say the least. Geo-Restrictions makes me very angry and frustrated.
I have a Sony Reader, sadly the Sony store won't let me buy books from the US or Canadian website. I can only buy books from the French Sony store. Now it would be alright if only the French Sony store let me buy books in english. This is very very frustrating.
I also had a problem with a few other websites which wouldn't let me buy the books because of where I live.
I even had to lie about my mailing addy once get an e-book. I had to put my friend's US addy. I hate that they make me feel guilty for lying. Grrrr
I remember last year searching for HOURS to get an ebook copy of Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules to Break. I thought it was very frustrating and ironic that when searching for booksellers most of the search result in Google were 'torrent' and 'pirated' results. *sigh*

Those GEO-R are so stupid. We can buy the prints on Book Depo without any problems. It's all fine but it takes time (a week) to ship and not every book is available in print.It's all so frustrating for us 'non US/CA'.
I really like Smashwords though.

Nadia Lee said...

Pattepoilue -- I hear ya. It's so frustrating if the only way you can get an ebook is torrent / piracy. This is more important now that so many books are e-release only.

I heart Smashwords too. :-)

JenM said...

I own a Kindle, so probably 95% of my purchases are from Amazon. One-click and instantaneous delivery without having to hook up my Kindle to my computer are the reasons I'm hooked on Amazon but I do hate the DRM.

I do buy occasionally from Smashwords, Fictionwise and All Romance but not that often. All Romance is fine to use. It's no easier or harder than any of the other sites. My biggest complaint with Smashwords is that it isn't really set up for browsing. I'll go there to buy a specific book, but I don't then usually stumble on other books the way I do at Amazon's site.

Nadia Lee said...

JenM --

You're right about Smashwords. I wish it updates its browsing-unfriendly user interface, but given how busy everyone there is, I doubt it's going to happen any time soon. :-(

Nice to meet you!

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Pearl
Netherlands
39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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