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Barnes And Noble’s Nook and Pubit: A Self-Publisher’s Heaven

Barnes and Noble are really, really getting into this e-publishing game.

B&N pubit

Barnes and Noble are really, really getting into this e-publishing game. In addition to combating Amazon’s Kindle platform with the Nook e-reader and apps, they’ve also planned a self-publishing e-book system for authors, leveraging the Nook store.

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The system is called Pubit, and it’s “coming summer 2010” according to the Web site.

From a sheer branding perspective, it couldn’t be a worse name. Seriously, how did you pronounce it when you read it the first time? Did it remind you of nightmarish hygiene episode at the bottom of a fast food container? And that curly black logo? Are you daring us to giggle like teens?

It’s a shame, because the actual notion behind Pubit couldn’t be simpler: You write a book, devise the artwork, the cover, the traditional book-leaf blurb, then sign up to Barnes and Noble’s service. A quick upload later, and B&N’s server-side software then converts your manuscript into the open-source e-Pub format, which is supported by the Nook, and B&N’s apps on platforms like the iPhone (and Apple’s own iBooks app). Then the “publishing power of Barnes & Noble goes to work for you,” meaning “millions of readers can buy your eBooks and digital content at BN.com.”

It’s a simple and direct way for self-publishing authors to gain access to the “world’s number one bookseller” and in this tumultuous time in the publishing world, where changing sales models, crowding of new authors and the digital book revolution means things are changing from moment to moment, it’s likely to be a seriously attractive option for many writers.

And it’s also a clever way to drum up both new content for B&N’s e-books platform and lots of media attention. Because the Pubit model is something that Apple would almost certainly never consider. Apple’s squeamishness about which apps it accepts into iTunes has sometimes extended meant “censorship” of sorts of apps that access content deemed inappropriate. Steve Jobs recently promised Apple’s iDevices would be a way to access a Net free from porn. And with potentially hundreds of thousands of books likely to be submitted to B&N, the publishers simply won’t have the time to vet all content and will have to pop a legal disclaimer around all Pubit content that distances them from what may be presented inside (and then they’ll probably act to delete “offensive” pubs when people complain). This sounds like a process alien to Apple’s current business thinking … unfortunate, in a way, for them … but not, perhaps, for the consumer: Because B&N’s Pubit content will be available on many platforms, including Apple’s.

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take your smartphone to my Twitter feed too.

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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise.

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