I was asked by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to answer a few questions about Le Bélial’s e-books publishing policy. Below are my answers as I thought it might be of some interest for non french-speaking readers of this blog. Please excuse my poor english and do not hesitate to correct my prose.
1. Are you currently working with e-publishing ? If so, how much of your publishing is e-publishing and how fast is it growing ?
We are. We have our own e-books selling plateform (named e-Belial’) since september 2010 and we are working with the EDEN plateform to sell our books via online bookshops since last december. We have currently 18 e-books available and we are adding two or three new every months from our previous paper publications. Almost all our books are now simultaneously released in both paper and electronic form. E-books sells are rather low for now but slowly increasing. Here are detailed stats for 2010.
2. If you are using e-publishing, what system do you use for it (transforming to e-publishing formats, hosting e-books online, selling e-products)? If not, why not ?
We only use home-made tools to make, host and sell e-books. Mostly a software named Tys that I made to allow bookshops, publishers and writers to sell both paper and e-books by themselves.
3. What characteristics do you look for in an e-publishing system or platform ?
I made e-Belial as I thought the perfect platform should be (or almost). It allows the customer to buy an e-book and then download it as many times as he wants and in all the formats available (epub and PDF) from his personal library. Customers can set the price of the book (above a minimum) if they want to encourage the writer or the publisher, and they can also buy short stories from a collection without buying the whole collection.
4. How concerned are you with DRM (Digital Rights Management, piracy) issues ? What form of DRM are you interested in using ?
It is very important for us that are all our e-books (sold either via our own plateform or via online bookshops) are sold without DRM. In our opinion, DRM are a non-sense because they penalize the genuine buyer (as it makes reading e-books a complex task) more than the pirat (who can easily override it anyway). I’ve noticed the books that suffers the most from piracy are the ones that aren’t available in an electronic form. So my opinion is that the first thing to do to fight piracy is to propose an intelligent and attractive legal offer, before trying to punish our own customers.