Mar 22, 2009

BookaBook - sad but true

Next on my list of author/reader networking websites is the Dutch site Bookabook.com. This site, which seems to have only a handful of users at the moment, screams "scam"...though it could also, to be fair, just be a well-intentioned but thoroughly impractical and poorly thought out business plan.

The idea is that you put your book up in the site, and at the same time 1,000 shares in the book are offered for sale at 15 Euros apiece. Once all thousand shares are sold, Bookabook publishes the book.

Right off the bat, this is absurd - They're making 15,000 Euros ($20,000 US) off the shares before they've even published the book. When you can publish a book through iUniverse for around $1,000, or through CreateSpace or similar companies for...well... $0. Though to be fair, they'll never make any money off of it because they allow users to get their money back any time before all the shares are sold.

Before publishing your book, though, Bookabook will edit it. They will not do a nasty developmental edit and mess with your artistic vision, but they will do a copy edit and check for typo's (sic). Yes, they had a typo on the word "typo." A quick scan of the rest of the site established that the quality of their text was uniformly atrocious. But I digress.

Once the shares are sold and the book is published, you start raking in the profits. Bookabook takes 60%, of course, and the author gets 20%. The other 20% is split among the 1,000 shareholders.

The math hurt my head so I shopped it out to the computer science student on my other couch. He laughed at me and explained some basic principles of algebra that I failed to absorb at any level. The result, however, is that with a postulated $15 cover price, the company would have to sell 75,000 Euros worth (6,800 copies) of a book before shareholders would make back their initial investment.

And that, my faithful reading public, is today's lesson in why the stock market crashed.

7 comments:

Eisley Jacobs said...

Wow, that is unbelievable! It screams scam to me too. Though the idea of it isnt too bad... just cut out the BookaBook people ;) Get your friends to invest $15 and soon you will have enough to publish.. ;) Marketing on the other hand... you might have to charge $400 a book to get a marketing budget ;)

Arthur de Bussy said...

Just a short line: at BookaBook starting authors get high royalties, shareholders get a share in future profits (tohether 40%) and BookaBook takes 60%. Less than traditional publishers. BookaBook uses the 60% for production costs, overhead but the main part goes into marketing the book. No need for authors to invest in marketing.

Erin said...

Thanks for your input, Arthur!

Those aspects of BookaBook are definitely positive - authors getting a bigger percentage and the publisher taking care of the marketing.

However, that doesn't address the main issue, which is the truly enormous initial investment. Certainly it's possible to spend a lot of money on editing and printing and marketing, but yeesh - forget about putting out a book - you could start your own publishing company with that kind of investment.

Arthur de Bussy said...

Erin, maybe it looks like a lot of money but producing and distributing a book doesn't come cheap ... at least if you want to sell. You're right, you can start your own publishing company with a similar - no that enormous - investment from shareholders but are you prepared to handle editing, production, marketing, distribution, administration etc? Or do you rather spent time writing?

Christopher said...

So the authors don't have to do any marketing, but they somehow have to convince 1000 people to buy their book before they can get their book published?

That's the sketchiest part of this... you guys are going to take upwards of 15,000 euro before doing anything substantial.

At this point, especially with only one book actually published, if I'm a potential shareholder in a book, what's my expected return on investment? How many copies do books sell on average? What's the probability that a book I buy shares in will ever earn back its cost? What reputation or experience does the company have to give me confidence that I'll ever actually make a return?

The company claims to offer shares back... has this happened? Reliably? How fast? Do we just have to take you at your word? Because if you're screwing people, you ought to be well aware that no one's crossing the pond just to sue in Dutch courts over 15 euro.

I don't see any reason to give any money to this company unless you're Bill Gates and have 15k lying around to get someone's book published.

Christopher said...

Offer shares back, I meant "offer money back"

Arthur de Bussy said...

Christopher,

Please understand we are a start up, constantly being busy detailing our new concept. The thousand shares you mention are not anymore in our concept for quiet some time. Pls check the site before commenting. We tail the amount of shares now to the demands of the book. Are we talking about a 50 or 500 page book? Colour pics or just black & white? Do we have to make an eBook version or not? 500 or 5000 copies? It makes a considerable difference and we will adjust the amount of shares needed according to the demand of the author. Please check the website before commenting.

You seem to be very skeptic. Of course no one will go to court in the Netherlands for 15 euro. Nobody complained until now and nobody asked their money back since we hardly exist one year. We either produced the book as promised, or we’ll give money back if people ask us or when the maximum term of 18 months has expired. Of course you can doubt who goes to court oversees. You can also trust we keep so openly published promises. Too much skeptics to fight against, Christopher. Go ahead, we’ll keep fine-tuning our concept.

Our second book will be launched tomorrow. No. 3in September.

Arthur