3 Oct 2010
The web makes national borders obsolete. And one of the beauties of e-books for self-publishing is that, by doing away with physical objects that have to be warehoused and shipped, they give publishers an international presence.
It seems that Barnes & Noble doesn't get this. Like many people (I assume) I've just received an invitation to publish our e-books via the company's PubIt! service. But the in the same email the firm tells us that to do this we will need:
The last of those I already have, having jumped through those hoops before. But the bank account and credit card? Does Barnes & Noble have any idea how hard it is for an overseas resident to open a US bank account?
To be fair, this isn't the first time I've encountered such a US-centric attitude. We publish a couple of our blogs via Amazon's Kindle Publishing platform and e-books through the Digital Text Platform. And because we can't provide details for a US bank account, we can't opt for electronic payment. The only option is payment by cheque, which incurs horrendous clearing fees rendering the whole process virtually pointless. But we do it as a form of marketing.
The PubIt! situation is worse. We can't even sign up without a US bank account.
It doesn't have to be this way. We already publish e-book versions of our books - Lady Caine and Make Do & Cook - in Apple's iBookstore through iTunes Connect. And Apple has no trouble paying electronically into overseas bank accounts. Ditto with Google AdSense, which even provides statements in Euros.
Perhaps Barnes & Noble is planning to allow access to the PubIt! service for non-US residents later on. But to launch this important (for B&N) service in such a way strongly suggests that the company has failed to understand the nature of digital publishing. It's no longer about where you are - it's about what you have to offer, and making that available to the whole world.