May 21, 2010, 2:48 PM

Barnes & Noble plans to launch an e-book self-publishing offering

Barnes & Noble Inc. this summer plans to launch an application that enables independent publishers and self-publishing authors to sell digital versions of their books that can be read on some e-reader devices.

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Barnes & Noble Inc. this summer plans to launch an application that enables independent publishers and self-publishing authors to sell digital versions of their books that can be read on some e-reader devices. Barnes & Noble Inc. this summer plans to launch an application that enables independent publishers and self-publishing authors to sell digital versions of their books that can be read on some e-reader devices.

The PubIt application enables the distribution of digital books through Barnes & Noble’s electronic bookstore. After setting up an account via the PubIt site, www.barnesandnoble.com/pubit, authors and publishers will be able to upload files and cover art. The application will then convert the data into ePub, a standardized format supported by several e-book readers, including Barnes & Noble’s Nook, but not Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle. Barnes & Noble will then load the e-book to its site and consumers will be able to buy and download the work.

Barnes & Noble, No. 42 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, trails some competitors in offering a service focused on independent writers and publishers. Amazon, No. 1, for instance, offers a self-publishing tool called Digital Text Platform, which enables such works to be read by consumers with Kindles. Amazon pays a royalty equal to 35% of the book’s list price.

Barnes & Noble has yet to say how much it will pay independent writers and publishers for each work sold. However, a royalty scheme that proves more generous than Amazon and other competitors could help Barnes & Noble attract more authors and publishers, says Dmitriy Molchanov, an e-book analyst with Yankee Group.

The PubIt service likely will attract more than writers seeking to publish their own poems, stories and musings, he adds. That’s because independent publishers often offer books that are in the public domain—19th century English novels, for instance—which have a history of respectable sales, Molchanov says.

Beyond that, attracting more works to its e-book store boosts the number of available titles that Barnes & Noble is able to claim, raising its profile among consumers who buy digital books, he says. “Every e-book retailer wants to tell consumers they offer the most out there,” he says.

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