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  • Vook Interviews Heather Stimmler Hall

    Heather Stimmler Hall is a Vook tester who’s achieved our dream for the closed beta—she’s helped us improve the platform and produced an ebook she’s actually making money from.

    imagesHeather writes guidebooks to France, offers private tours of Paris and publishes travel guides. She runs the Website Secrets of Paris and has a devoted audience of followers. We interviewed Heather over Skype to learn more about her success writing, creating and selling eBooks directly with Vook.

    Can you tell me about the project’s background?

    I wanted to create an eBook out of an iPhone app that I did with David Lebovitz, called Paris Pastry Guide. Too many people don’t have an iPhone or iPad and can’t access apps. They want to know how they can have an eBook. But I didn’t have any fancy design program and I didn’t want it to look stupid, and I wanted to get it on the other markets like Amazon and iBooks.

    So we used Vook. I have an iPhone and David has an iPad and we created the book and checked it out and used the online testers for the Mobi version. We sold it on our own Website, paris-pastry.com, for $2.99 for Valentine’s Day. We’ve sold 300 titles through our own site and 150 through the Kindle site. It will be in iBooks soon.

    How has the process been selling it through your site?

    I’m hoping we can maintain a consistent number—maybe 1,000 in the first month it’s out. Then maybe 20 or 30 a week. It’s selling more than the app version of the book.

    The great thing about selling the eBook on your site is being able to go in and update the file and then immediately replace that file with the updated file, whereas going through Amazon and iTunes you have to resubmit everything.

    photo (2)The eBook is easier to fix. In our app, we can’t even fix a typo because since the app came out, Apple has gone to iOS5, which no longer allows offline content, which our app has. So if we take the app down just to change a typo, it won’t get accepted. We’re stuck with a choice of, do we leave the current app up there, or do we take it down and wait til we rebuild it?

    Are there any hang ups with direct sales?

    The only glitch is that selling it through my own site I have to do a back and forth to teach the readers how to load the file onto their device without going through a store.

    The mobi file doesn’t have DRM, so it’s just a mobi file and it appears that if you put it on your own computer, and save it to your harddrive and then synch it to your device, it works fine. It only takes two seconds longer.

    What mechanism do you use to sell your book directly?

    I use a service called e-Junkie that emails them a link to download the book, but if they click on that link to open it instead of saving it, it doesn’t work. It’s just a raw file. You can’t just open the file. You have to open it in something else, but I explain that via email.

    I have 10,000 subscribers to my newsletter, and David Lebovitz gets lots of traffic a day to his website. And most people will come right to our site and buy the book directly. It would be helpful to be able to sell automatically through the Web from Vook.

    What do you think will make a difference to writers in digital?

    I know a lot of writers who absolutely want to be able to sell their own content. Even those who don’t have a huge following, they still want to have the option to set up a Website and sell from it. Maybe it will make money, maybe it won’t. But it’s sort of free money.

    Check out Heather’s eBook at her Website—and if you buy a copy, you’re not only learning about the culinary arts of France, you’re seeing first-hand what you can create with Vook. It’s a David Lebovitz book on pastry, it’s only 2.99, and it’s easy to read on any device, which makes it almost as irresistible as one of David’s petit-fours.

    Related posts:

    1. The good, the bad and the Guggenheim
    2. Vook On Fire
    3. Digital Publishing At The Gates of Horn & Ivory
    5. iBooks 2 and iBooks Author: Another opportunity & headache

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