“Start Small, Stay Small” Now Available in Kindle and ePub Formats

When I originally published Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup, my intention was to follow up the PDF and paperback versions with Kindle, iBook and ePub versions. That plan went by the wayside once I discovered there was no automated way to go from a Word doc to these formats.

After contacting a half-dozen ebook conversion firms I found a company that turned the Kindle and ePub versions around in two days, although the Kindle version required three rounds of QA over the course of 10 days before it was ready to be published. So 12 days and a few hundred dollars later I now have the necessary hand-coded files.

Kindle, Here I Come
So as of this morning, Start Small, Stay Small is now available in Kindle format from the Amazon website, and PDF & ePub format from the startup book website.

If you’ve already purchased the book in PDF you should have received an email with a link to download the ePub version. If you haven’t, email me.

The paperback version is also available from both startup book and Amazon, but buy it from startup book (you can pay through Amazon or PayPal) since Amazon takes more than half the revenue off the top. The economics of book publishing are pretty crazy when not selling direct to the consumer.

Speaking of that, the Kindle commission is 35% of the purchase price. That’s what Amazon pays me. Ouch! As soon as you price your book above $9.99 your commission plummets from 70% to 35% of the retail price. Now I understand why the big book publishers were having such a fit about Amazon essentially forcing them into this pricing bracket.

Bye Bye iBook
At this point it does not look like the iBook version will come to fruition.

For one, you need a Mac to publish a book to the iTunes store.

For two, the handful of iPad owners I’ve talked to indicated they use the Kindle app to read books on their iPad. Apparently, the iBook app isn’t that great and the iBook selection is small. Go figure.

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If you're trying to grow your startup you've come to the right place. I'm a serial web entrepreneur here to share what I've learned in my 11 years as a self-funded startup founder. Luckily several thousand people have decided to stick around and join the conversation.

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18 comments ↓

#1 Slava on 08.06.10 at 9:16 am

Why does the book title end with “(Volume 1)” on Amazon? Are you going to write Volume 2 in the future?

#2 Peter Christensen on 08.06.10 at 10:18 am

I find the iBooks better for reading than Kindle app on iPad, but the selection is so limited that even if you prefer iBooks, you still have to use the Kindle app to actually find the book you want.

#3 Rob on 08.06.10 at 12:56 pm

>>Why does the book title end with “(Volume 1)” on Amazon? Are you going to write Volume 2 in the future?

No, this is a weird anomaly with Amazon’s system. I’m trying to correct this now. But no plans for volume 2.

#4 Sasmito Adibowo on 08.10.10 at 10:54 am

Actually the ePub version can be used in an iPad (a.k.a iBooks) just fine. Just plug in the iPad and drop the ePub file on to the iPad’s section in iTunes. Afterwards just sync the iPad and it should appear in the iBooks.

#5 Mike on 08.10.10 at 2:24 pm

Trying some math: because the Amazon price is set to $24.95 and not $9.99, the customers pays $15 more for you to earn only $1.74 more?

Price___Commission___Payout
_$9.99___70%___$6.99
$24.95___35%___$8.73
$14.96___n/a___$1.74

#6 Rob on 08.21.10 at 9:15 pm

Yes, that’s crazy, isn’t it?

#7 Chad on 08.30.10 at 12:37 pm

Why not just split the book into two $9.99 segments? (Vol 1 and Vol 2)

Your customers pay $5 less if they buy both volumes and you make $13.98 instead of $8.73.

#8 Rob on 08.30.10 at 12:40 pm

Chad – It’s a good idea from a profit perspective, but the inevitable headache for the customer of having to purchase two items would not be worth it. I can almost guarantee I would start receiving emails that I was trying to gouge people by splitting the book into two parts.

#9 Chad on 08.30.10 at 12:46 pm

Insert an explaination into the prelude, I’m sure it would drive Amazon crazy…

#10 Kanen Flowers on 08.30.10 at 3:16 pm

I am all for supporting you and your book, but price-gouging the customer with a $25 book (Kindle) instead of a $10 book, just so you can make another $1.75 per book seems to be punishing the reader/customer for an Amazon policy.

Have you considered the difference in your profit would likely be made up in sales if the book were priced at $9.99 instead of $24.95?

In other words, three times the sales matters more than $1.75 per book in revenue.

Just an opinion, of course, but I believe a valid one.

#11 Rob on 08.30.10 at 4:43 pm

The book costs $24; given the amount of effort involved in putting a book together and the cost in converting it to the Kindle format I’m not willing to sell it for $9.99. What I earn from the Kindle version is not relevant.

I have never had the intention of making the Kindle version a massively discounted version of the book ($9.99 would be 60% off). I offer this format as a convenience to Kindle owners rather than as the Wal-mart version.

If the $24 Kindle version doesn’t work based on principle, the paperback and PDF/ePub versions are available at the same price.

Think about it this way: If I remove the Kindle version from Amazon would any of this be an issue? I am willing to do that if people would prefer not to have the option.

#12 Kanen Flowers on 08.30.10 at 5:32 pm

Rob,

I love your blog. I appreciate your perspective.

However, this is a straw-man argument. What is the point of an artificial value of the book at $24 if it prevents people from purchasing it based on price?

Trying not to undercut the PDF/ePub version is one argument, but saying the “book costs $24” is not a valid reason for pricing it higher than other Kindle books.

I’ll probably buy it in the end, because I want to read it and would like to support your work, but I believe your pricing policy is a result of stubbornness and not market research.

Again, just one (apparently loud and slightly offensive) opinion.

#13 Rob on 08.30.10 at 5:49 pm

>>What is the point of an artificial value of the book at $24 if it prevents people from purchasing it based on price?

Isn’t the price of any book artificial? If people aren’t going to purchase my book at $24, then they aren’t going to purchase it. It doesn’t make any sense to me to sell one version at a 60% discount from the others, especially one that requires someone to have a certain kind of device or use a certain kind of software. This seems unfair to those who like to read things on paper or have an open format version of the book. Why should they pay more?

>>is not a valid reason for pricing it higher than other Kindle books.

All Kindle books are not $9.99. There are many above that price point. Amazon allows publishers to price them however they’d like. I choose to price mine at the same price as the other electronic version I sell.

>>I’ll probably buy it in the end

No need; I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I an sending you a free copy of the PDF/ePub version. Amazon doesn’t give me the means to give the Kindle version for free, or I would provide you with that.

Thanks again.

#14 Jason Pelker on 09.06.10 at 9:46 pm

Rob,

I like the way you handled the last comment by going above and beyond to make a statement about how well you treat your readers and how important you believe your writing is. The commenter will likely review your book out of gratitude or possibly even cognitive dissonance.

As for me, I found your book when I read the article you guest posted today and I’m now reading your PDF sample you provide on the book’s website. I think you’ve got a good book (and site) on your hands and a great price point (unlike some very short ebooks out there that don’t provide a sample or report their page number amount).

I can tell you put in a lot of work into the book and I look forward to popping the ePub version into my iPad in a day or two. In the meantime, I’d love to read about the whole book writing process. Do you have any plans on turning your publishing experiences into a blog or at least a few posts here?

#15 Rob on 09.07.10 at 12:36 am

>>Do you have any plans on turning your publishing experiences into a blog or at least a few posts here?

I’ve toyed with the idea…not sure how much value it would provide to people not looking to publish a book. I’ll keep it on my idea list and push it out if others contact me with questions on this topic.

#16 Troels Richter on 09.25.10 at 9:26 am

Have you considered making an audiobook version?

#17 Rob on 09.26.10 at 8:10 pm

@Troels – I have considered an audio version, but it’s a resource issue right now. Demand for an audio version is not certain, so it’s been pushed down my list several times. It’s still up in the air at this point.

#18 Mike on 12.03.10 at 11:10 am

Just picked it up for my Kindle! Didn’t mind paying the price of $20 because although I just found your blog today, I KNOW you are going to deliver.