5 Comments

  1. Matt, thanks for the great review! I’m with Scribl and am happy to answer any questions you, your authors, or your readers may have. I think the Story Elements piece for new content discovery is part of what sets us apart when it comes to new author/new content discovery. This works hand-in-hand with CrowdPricing to make sure that as the # of titles, increase, books are only price-ranked with ever more similar books.

  2. I was considering putting a book up with them, a small one on meditation (25,000 words) that I wouldn’t price over 99c on Amazon, so if I put it with Scribl then, assuming it ever gets to 99c, I’ll get more than I would if I went to Amazon directly. However when I signed up a few days ago, I couldn’t log in. I left a message but haven’t heard back. It’s giving me second thoughts. I did have questions answered from Scrible previously though so I’ll wait a couple of days before giving up and going directly to Amazon. I admit I’m nervous about not having pricing control, but I’m curious to see what will happen with their model.

    I have an audio book ready to upload, so that will certainly go with them. It’s whether to use them for the extended distribution of the ebook or not that I’m unsure of. I thought to try it with this book and see how it goes. Hopefully they’ll get back to me soon and get it sorted out.

  3. Hi

    Some of the observations made by Matthew are excellent. He seems to have gone really deep.
    I have put four of my books on scribl. I definitely have many things that make me uncomfortable with them, but I will not raise them here.
    What worries me are the following
    1. They have a four year exclusive binding if you choose to put your books on crowd-pricing everywhere. Even if you don’t put the book on CP everywhere, you need to give a 60 day notice if you want to withdraw your book. I feel that both can create problems to the authors especially, when they are just experimenting with their ideas and there is no grantee that that would work the way they expect.
    2. Lot is talked about crowd-pricing and automatic moving up and down of prices. But there are many things very vague. What is the threshold when they decide to change the price? Is this threshold same for all books ? A romance novel or a erotica may sell in thousands but a book on “knowledge” may only sell in hundreds or even less. SO if you have the same threshold for both, a knowledge book may never move up.
    3. They are offering the book for free for first 6 weeks. What will happen if someone downloads the book at that time and puts in some accessible site? When scribl jacks up the price because of their CP, readers will obviously move to free site where it is still available for free. So the CP will again bring down the price and the idea just does not click. Don’t they have to put restrictions to such free piracy? they have no reader aps. Anyone can download.
    4. As of now, they have no stats provided on their site about how many copies of the books are downloaded. So how is the author to know, whether the CP is fair? I think more transparency is needed. Even amazon gives realtime stat for even free books.

    — Dr. King

  4. Just Colin from Scribl responding again. Dr. King, you’re partly right with those 4 points, but let me clarify for all interested authors:

    1. As you said, there is only an exclusive period if you want us to distribute it to Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Apple, Google, etc. (hundreds more outlets in total), but it’s only 9 months, unless we prove that we’re doing our job by getting your book at least hundreds of dollars in revenue. If we’re doing that, then and only then, do we earn the right to keep the book for 4 years. In other words, we have an incentive to make sure your book sells and lose our rights to distribute it if it doesn’t. The first 9 months is to avoid collisions (e.g., an author posts the book to Amazon and Scribl also posts the same book to Amazon at the same time — problem) and because different outlets take different amounts of time to post the book. Some put it up within 2 days, some, especially on the audiobook side, can take a few weeks. Similarly, some sites may take as long as 2-3 months to fully report sales. So that 9 months is really to ensure we have at least 5-6 months of sales data to prove that we can sell it. We agree, if we can’t, then authors should be free to take the book elsewhere. Fortunately, most authors are pretty happy with our results, with only about 2% of titles having been removed by authors, and the vast majority of those are due to successful publishing deals that require exclusivity. We’re proud of those successes!

    If you just want to post to Scribl, and don’t need us to distribute it, then there is no need for any exclusivity.

    2. Books don’t move between our CrowdPricing ($CP) Tiers based on the individual book’s sales, but, exactly as you point out, sales relative to similar titles. Books are re-tiered every 2 weeks. CrowdPricing factors the price of the sales (free downloads count less, more expensive purchases count more) and quantity of sales during both the current 2-week period and during several prior 2-week tiering periods. Currently, post-apocalyptic teen survival books are big (Hunger Games, Maze Runner, etc.), before that it was Vampire Romances (Twilight, Vampire Diaries). Books move between predefined price tiers based on popularity relative to similar books precisely so that a book about life in London during WWII is not competing for price with a steamy romance. This is what builds trust with customers — book prices reflect “value” relative to similar titles. There are 7 tiers in total, with only the top ~1% of books are in the very top tier, and to reach that tier, a book would need to have maintained strong sales volume even as its price rose.

    3. Books are free for UP TO 6 weeks. A popular book might only be free for 1-2 days. All else being equal, free books get many more downloads than the same book with a price (any price). The free period serves to help books get a start, some initial downloads and ratings/reviews. If the book is doing well and moving up to higher priced $CP Tiers, it no longer needs to be free. Rather than leave that sales revenue on the table, if the book would move to a higher tier based on download volume, it does and is no longer free. If you have opted into our distribution system, free ebooks on Scribl will also be free across our network to garner that initial interest and help you gain those reviews which can help drive long-term sales.

    4. We have always had instant stats for all sales on Scribl.com, including books to be read or listened to in Scribl’s upcoming iOS and Android apps. That currently accounts for about 30% of a book’s sales revenue. Of course, as Scribl grows, the % of sales from Scribl.com also increases. We have also always listed monthly sales stats on all other outlets, but it’s admittedly not really easy to parse those and authors can’t tell where a sale took place. Based on author feedback on this (including yours, Dr. King), we are working on adding an Author Dashboard this fall, which will include more sales details and better organization to make third-party sales from our distribution system easier to analyze.

    Hope that helps. We’ll be adding apps, that Author Dashboard, and many, many more features over the next few months!

    Cheers,
    Colin

    • Colin, you have not answered any of my questions but just reiterated what you people have always been saying in your sites.

      1. If you are so confident of your CP idea, why do you need to bind the author with a 4 year contract. An author would never like to leave your site if he is assured of the kind of revenue you are talking about. You don’t need any such contract.
      Such one sided contracts can not only hurt the authors but the company as well, in the long run in addition creating mistrust.

      I have heard from my readers that they discontinued their Kindle unlimited subscriptions because it has no books “worth reading” (this is not my opinion) and most “good” books are outside kindle unlimited. This is a direct consequence of Amazon’s one sided ideas of exclusivity and meager payout they give to authors who happen to put their books on kindle unlimited. I am sure sooner or later amazon will feel the pinch.

      2. When I said threshold, what I meant was – after how many downloads do you move the book across tiers and whether this threshold is common to all books or depends on genre. Rather than making vague statements, you need to spell out the exact figures to convince. Any algorithm works with precise numbers and not mere statements. I am sure you have such numbers unless you are manually doing it on a case to case basis!

      I see my own book lying in your site – FREE – for more than 6 weeks now with no clue on how many copies have been downloaded nor it is moving up as per your own commitment – “the book automatically moves to higher tiers after 6 weeks, irrespective of downloads”. Mind you, the book I am talking about is the one that has been my top seller on amazon, apple, google for past several years and still the top seller (in its genre). It is hard believe that only on your sites it is not moving. Either you are not speaking the facts or you have no control on whatever is going on. Any explanation why it is still stuck at FREE?

      3. It does not take days for any book that is offered without a secure ap,to be pirated. I am not talking about imaginary fears. My own books are pirated within 2 days after they were published through a store that also does not have a secure ap to download the books. If what I read in many author forums is any indication, I am not the only author who has faced this problem. Saying that such things don’t happen, or nothing can be done about it, either shows that you are not aware of reality or are trying to cover up your limitations. Moreover, this single issue can kill your CP scheme!

      4. I see no place on your site that gives me any stat on the number of downloads for my book! Can you please tell me where on your site you are giving that info? As I can see, it is just a black box with no clue on whatever is happening.

      I think what convinces the authors is not words but actions and results. Word count is important only in fiction books ;-))

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