eBook distribution woes

So in my previous post I noted that Lulu published my eBook immediately and it has been for sale right away, while Kobo and Google Books are still reviewing it (even as I write this!). Turns out that this is the only positive side with Lulu.

When I first added the book, I noted that they have the option to revise a project (book) so that you can update/change it later. I assumed that buyers would always get the latest revision when downloading, even though they bought it at an earlier date (which is the case for Amazon, nowadays) — turns out that is not the case. Luckily, only three people bought the book from Lulu so I was able to reach them and provide them with the updated ePub (and I’ll keep sending them the updated revisions).

But I have more to say about Lulu — their support sucks. First of all, most of the documentation for publisher they have on their website is a support forum, which means that unless somebody already asked about something similar, you can’t find it. When you send them an inquiry by email (with a website form of course, there’s no email address on the website, and finding a “Contact Us” page is not possible), they first send you a list of FAQs that have nothing to do with your inquiry — and if you don’t reply to that with “no this did not solve my issue, get me a real person”, they don’t even look into what you wrote! They even send you a survey asking how’s the support!

Now let me spend a few nice words for Amazon instead. First of all, even though they did a copyright check, publishing the book took less than half the week. Updates? Less than 24 hours! And they do let you download a new copy of the book with the updates. But that’s just the basic level. Somehow, searching Amazon.com (only the .com version) for either the title “Autotools Mythbuster” or for my name, does not show you my book at all — in the latter case, you actually find Bart’s book on Munin which I’m listed as a technical reviewer for. When I registered for the Author page it also didn’t show my book — it works fine on the UK page on the other hand.

When I contacted Amazon (which can be contacted via either email from the website, or livechat!), not only they gave me a very swift answer, but they followed up on it without feedback on my side, noting the problem is not fixed, and that they’ll escalate it to the technical department. I’ll be waiting for a solution — in the mean time the book is still available if you have a Kindle or a device compatible with the Kindle reading application (Android tablets are fine).

The situation now though, is that I lack a distributor for the clear, DRM-free ePub version — as I said I’m waiting for Kobo and Google Books, hoping that it’ll actually allow work in progress books to be published. I’ve been suggested to look into Leanpub but it does not allow me to provide an ePub already generated, it’s to write new content — and similarly for FastPencil which I had to register just to be able to find out what it does.

So if you have any suggestions, please let me know, as I’d like to be able to reach even the people who want to stay away from Amazon as much as they can.

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