I had an email yesterday from the director of acquisitions at Rubicon Media, Inc. His company is developing an iPad and iPhone app called Aventine which is an ereader backed by a bookstore offering “new and original material by unpublished authors”. People like me, in other words.
Rubicon Media’s model is an interesting one. They pay their authors according to how many sales each author’s combined works make. So if I sell up to 500 copies of my ebook(s) through Aventine, I would earn 20% of the proceeds. If over 1,000, it would be 30% and so on, up to a maximum of 50% once my works hit 16,000 downloads.
Interesting pricing, considering that Smashwords deliverers 85% of the income for sales from its site back to its authors (regardless of how many books have been sold). Smashwords is also a distributor to other ebook sites, including Apple’s iBookstore: the figure received by authors for sales there is around 70%.
The only advantage I could see in the blurb I received from Rubicon Media is that there is some degree of quality control: “Aventine will automatically reject works that are incomplete or riddled with grammatical errors.” Smashwords’ quality control is mainly focused on the formatting of books (although there are some restrictions in their terms of service regarding “hateful, discriminatory or racist views” and “advocation of illegal activities”). The Aventine app will not hold adult-oriented content, which is also quite different from Smashwords’ position. If you look at the top 50 Smashwords books, about 75% of them are aimed at over-18s.
I got the email because of my “success on Smashwords” with The Roman and the Runaway. So it seems that Rubicon Media are contacting Smashwords authors with the aim of populating their new application. It’s certainly an interesting approach and business model. My current feeling about it is that they aren’t offering enough of a financial incentive (says she, whose book is available for free anyway!). I’m also not convinced by the level of quality control that they’re offering. I suspect that the quality threshold for inclusion is going to be fairly low, certainly to begin with, as they try to get enough ebooks to make the application worth using. It also is limited in that it only sells to iPad and iPhone users. Not everyone has one, you know…
I’m reserving judgement at the moment – but would be interested to hear about other people’s experiences with this company.