Just as new technology -- especially print on demand and Internet marketing -- has made it much easier for an author to get published, it's also easy to form and operate a self-publishing company to serve authors. (It can be done in an hour.)
New entries seem to pop up every few months, and older ones fade, get remade, are merged or are bought by other companies.
Yesterday I heard about the strangely named A Book's Mind ("ABM"), which calls itself "the smart way to publish" and "a smart publishing option," and touts "progressive self-publishing" and "alternative publishing."
Most companies seem to manage just fine with merely one tagline, like "Think" (IBM), "Better Living Through Chemistry" (DuPont) and "Shift" (Nissan) -- but A Book's Mind thinks it needs four.
I'm not sure that ABM needs four taglines, and I'm also not sure that the world needs ABM.
Despite its claims, ABM doesn't seem to be any better than its competitors which have just one tagline, generally claiming to be the "leading" something.
Actually, ABM wants us to know that it "is quickly becoming recognized as a leader in customer satisfaction and superior cover designs in the publishing industry." It is unclear who has recognized it as such.
ABMs main pitch is that its author-customers will make more money than if they used another publisher: "you are able to buy your book at cost, not wholesale or at an 'Author Discount,' and sell your book yourself and keep 100% of the profit." If authors keep 100%, how will ABM stay in business?
The ABM website emphasizes book sales through author's own websites -- which often get somewhere between zero and no visitors -- rather than through traditional online or terrestrial booksellers.
The chart below (left-click to enlarge) entices hopeful authors with apparently higher profit than two competitors can provide, and shows absurd sales figures of 500, 3,000 and 12,000 novels sold "from your web site or by hand." It could take five years to sell "only" 500 novels by hand.
The header of the first column says, "Quantity of Book's Sold." A company that wants to sell editing services for $1250 should have someone who knows that the plural of 'book" is not formed with an apostrophe!
The ABM "Print Cost Calculator" shows that printing a common 6-by-9 paperback will cost $1.75 plus a penny a page. Therefore, a 300-pager will cost $4.75. ABM says, "We are a smart publishing option that can generate almost twice the amount of money per book sold as other publishing companies." The price for a 300-page paperback from CreateSpace is $4.45, providing 30 cents more profit than ABM. OOPS!
ABM wants us to know that "As an independent author, getting your book into local stores might be easier than you think, [actually, it's often quite difficult] and you receive 100% of the profit." If the author receives all of the profit, how will the store (and the printer) stay in business?
There's lots of sloppy thinking, typography and writing on the ABM site -- such as "Your web site and online storefront allows" and "have the ability to chose." Where is the ABM editor?
One ABM printing cost comparison includes Lulu, AuthorHouse and BookSurge. BookSurge was bought by Amazon in 2005 and absorbed into Amazon's CreateSpace in 2009. The chart is three years out-of-date.
ABM offers four packages priced from $1,500 to $4,600. The incremental features reveal some very high prices, such as $1200 for a press release. Many services and products are available a la carte, such as $900 for cover design. OUCH!
The company will set up a blog for its authors, but the company doesn't seem to see much value in blogs. Its own blog had three posts in 2010, four posts in 2011 and not even one yet in 2012. That's not a good sign.
ABM has 23 followers on Twitter, compared to about 4,500 for AuthorHouse and nearly 9,000 for CreateSpace. Most of the ABM Tweet addicts do not seem to be authors:
- My name is Frank Waszut and I'm a narcissistic ginger that use to be a professional mixed martial arts fighter.
- I live in Republic of Korea is a middle-aged man. Love music, poetry, and good for the usual.
- i am lesbian and like to be with my partner all the time and i am a freak but that is ok, i like myself that way
- My way to anonymously share with the world the ridiculous shit my roommates say. And sometimes my neighbors. You're welcome.
The phone number and Floyd Orfield are not exclusively devoted to book publishing. The same toll-free number is used by Par For Par -- an advertising program/game aimed at golfers.
Competition is good for people who buy products and services. I like to see lots of companies providing services for authors. Sadly -- as I've said about other recent entries in the field -- there just doesn't seem to be any good reason to use A Book's Mind.