back in June 2012 I received an email from iUniverse regarding my book, Financial Markets For The Rest Of Us. In that email iUniverse, my book's publisher, proudly exclaimed that they have converted my book to the EPUB format and have submitted it to multiple sites. Here's an excerpt:
We are glad to inform you that your book, Financial Markets For The Rest Of Us, has been successfully converted to a new eBook file format. This new eBook version, called EPUB, is quickly becoming the new standard for the eBook industry. iUniverse has submitted the new eBook file to our partner eBook vendors to increase the overall distribution of your book.
iUniverse sure made it sound like they did this to help me, the author, but in reality it was more of a self-serving action to exercise control and maximize profits. Eventually I discovered an even bigger issue to deal with than just their EPUB initiative.
A few months ago I noticed that the book I had uploaded to Google Books had been replaced by the iUniverse's PDF and EPUB versions. This meant that iUniverse was not only earning money from the sale of the paper and digital copies, but also from the Google ads displayed alongside the pages of the book online. I am certain that iUniverse was not sharing any of the ad revenues with the authors. Concerned, I contacted Google to inquire about this and was told that I needed to contact iUniverse and request them to stop their automatic list upload. That meant that iUniverse could circumvent my copyright, effectively preventing me from listing my own book on Google Books.
Eventually I was able persuade iUniverse to stop uploading my book to Google Books and regained control of the situation. It took a few months, but I am now back in charge for both the PDF and EPUB versions on Google Books. Google no longer displays advertising alongside the books' pages, so I must assume iUniverse's willingness to relinquish control was somewhat helped along by that fact.
iUniverse was once a decent company for POD (Print On Demand) publishing. Those were the times when paper books were the only choice and POD services were affordable, but that is no longer the case. iUniverse was acquired by Author Solutions, a company that owns other self-publishing businesses, the POD prices are now exorbitant, service is subpar, sales and marketing pitches are incessant and author payments are questionable according to many sources online. In addition the traditional paper book is no longer the only game in town, being slowly replaced by its digital counterpart, the e-book. E-book publishing is relatively simple nearly eliminating the need for a publishing company, although the publishing outfits won't admit this.
As for my book, while iUniverse continues to be the publisher of the paper version as it was from the beginning, I was finally able to bring the digital versions under my own control, allowing me to make my own decisions, be it to offer the EPUB version for a small fee on Google Books, or just make it available in its entirety on my own web site.
P.S. On my next post I will address how I created the e-book version of my book. It was an interesting journey in the world of digital books.