Vook: An Author Tool in Search of an Audience and a Price Point

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authors caught in a trap

Don’t get caught, read the fine print before you believe it’s free

Received an email today from Publisher’s Weekly, touting Vook.com, a site they evidently really like, but from which author, ghostwriters, and writers are apparently staying away in droves. Vook is a reiteration of a 2009 company that published print books. By 2011, they went toes up. In March, 2012, they came up with a new concept — publishing ebooks at a truly ridiculous cost to authors and writers.

Here it is late summer 2012, they’ve regrouped again and have a new publishing model for ebooks. If you want to publish your book strictly to their site, you can create it and upload it, list it, and see if it sells — free. FREE means if you sell books, they take 15%. So it isn’t free.

If you want to put it anywhere else through Vook, the price tag is $99 per book. Or, from what I read, you can pay $99 per month. Per month? BTW, their site does not support Firefox or IE browsers. They’re “working” on Firefox and have no plans to support IE. Working on? Haven’t they been online since 2009? What’s to work on that takes years? There goes a chunk of your potential readership.

Vook Is Not a Better Mousetrap or Even a Better Publisher

For some reason, traditional publishers like Simon and Shuster seem to be strong fans of this site. To my mind, the folks behind Vook need to regroup yet again, find a really strong business model with something to offer ghostwriters, authors and writers, get a solid management team to carry that idea, and then come to the marketplace with it. Yep, there is money being made in epublishing, but should that mean anyone can jump on the wagon and start pitching any old kind of hay at authors until they find a way to get some of that money?

With sites like Amazon and Smashwords, or even BookBaby if you insist on paying for services you can either do yourself or get for free, I’m unclear as to how this one will revolutionize our approach to ebook selling. Publisher’s Weekly seems to think Vook is a tool every author should have. I disagree. I dislike that it took me fifteen minutes to unpuzzle the Vook site and find the information I sought. I dislike that they charge a stiff fee for something I can do elsewhere without the fee. I seriously dislike that they make their product seem free when it really isn’t if you want any value from it.

No one (except New York publishers) is talking about Vook. Their reach is far shorter than established sites. I can;t imagine you’d sell a boatload of books at Vook. But I thought I’d pass it on in case you’re desperate. for me, there’s nothing new, innovative, or helpful there.

 

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4 Responses to “Vook: An Author Tool in Search of an Audience and a Price Point”

  1. Maryan,

    Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts about Vook. Since you had a pretty negative impression, I thought I’d respond to some of your points with as much information as I can.

    — We’ve never published print books — we’ve always created eBooks. Building more than 800 of them ourselves gave us the experience to build what we think is a pretty awesome eBook creation platform that lets you build professional level eBooks with video, audio and images.

    — Our site works fine on Firefox and IE. It’s our platform tool — a really professional grade piece of software — that works in Chrome and Safari. But anyone can buy and read a book on Vook.com using any browser.

    — $99 is a one time fee to get your eBook published in Amazon, BN, and iBooks. We believe that’s pretty competitive in the marketplace. And we pay you 100% of the royalties we receive from those distributors. There is no $99 per month fee!

    — We’re sorry you had a hard time finding the right documentation. Our Website at https://corp.vook.com/ has lots of documentation on what our distribution terms are — we try to lay everything out cleanly. We’ll work at integrating that better into the site.

    If you or any interested authors want to learn more, you can always contact me at Matthew@vook.com

    Thanks,

    Matt
    VP Business Development
    Vook

  2. Dear Maryan: Thank you for this information! I will post a link to your essay within my two writers groups on Linkedin.

    Cordially,
    Robin Elizabeth Margolis

  3. Thanks for visiting. Glad I can provide information to help writers and authors, oops and my friends the ghostwriters, too! —mkp

  4. Always happy to hear from people who work with books. I didn’t intend to write a negative review, just a caution to my constituents after I received that glowing marketing piece from Pub Weekly. Let me show you some of the info I found when I looked for specific info, just as a visitor:
    http://community.vook.com/vook/topics/the_vookmaker_interface_looks_broken (Vook may not work with Firefox or IE)

    http://www.crunchbase.com/company/vook and http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/10/04/vook-a-publisher-no-more/ (some history of Vook – my error in stating it was print books.)

    As for $99 per book, this would, of course, be each writer’s decision. But the job can be done effectively and beautifully at sites like Smashwords, though I will stipulate that Smashwords formatting process can be nightmarish if one isn’t patient. Pressbooks is another interesting and totally free option. We can’t exclude Amazon, either, right? I can see how $99 would be cost effective if your book sells an enormous number of copies through BN and iBooks. Authors and writers should do the math before making such a choice.

    Your website? I found it a bit confusing and not terribly intuitive. I had to click all over to find what I needed, and I didnt go in with the idea of criticizing you. Interestingly, I went to see if I should recommend you to a client of mine. Overall, I didn’t feel comfortable recommending you after I did some reading. I’m all in favor of keeping and eye on your processes to see how writers, authors, and ghostwriters perceive you once you’ve been established for a bit. The fact that you think your product is a “pretty awesome book creation platform” is admirable. I like your loyalty and enthusiasm. Now, show us, please. Thanks.

    Is Vook really a tool every writer should have? The jury is still out on that one. Stop by anytime and let us know what’s new and how your project is doing, Matt. I appreciate your input enormously.