Jeff Rutherford is the founder of independent publishing house Delabarre Publishing, a new start up that publishes kids books, jokes books, travel guides and now novels. Rutherford caught up with eBookNewser to discuss how he got into digital publishing.
EBN: Why did you establish Delabarre Publishing?
JR: I flirted with the idea of starting a small publishing company but the costs involved in producing traditional, printed books always deterred me. I’ve been keenly interested in eBooks for years. I purchased a Gemstar eBook reader more than 10 years ago – it was a very large, clunky, backlit eReader device. I watched the fast growth of the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. And, when I saw the publishing capabilities of these devices, I couldn’t resist jumping in and creating my own eBook publisher.
EBN: How did you get into publishing kids eBooks?
JR: I have a 7-year-old son who is fascinated with wordplay, riddles and jokes. I was in a Barnes & Noble store with him and noticed a series of small printed joke books, and I knew immediately that joke books could work as eBooks. I’ve seen how my wife and I use our iPhone and Android phones and I thought there would be an audience for quality joke eBooks. I’ve also published two adult humor collections — 99 Sarah Palin Jokes and 101 Donald Trump Jokes.
EBN: And you do travel eBooks and novels?
JR: I partnered with GoNomad, a travel website, to publish a series of travel books. The first available is called Italy Plane Reader – Get Psyched About Your Upcoming Trip to Italy: Stories about Italian People, Places and Eats.
I am most proud of Hard City by Clark Howard, a book originally published in hardcover by Dutton in 1990. Clark Howard is an award-winning mystery writer with 20 novels to his credit. Hard City was a personal novel, a fictionalized coming-of-age novel closely modeled on Howard’s hard teenage years living on the streets of Chicago in the late 1940s.
EBN: What are you working on now?
JR: Currently, I have 10-12 eBooks in production. More kids joke books, a child’s history book, more travel books and two young adult novels by Bill Crider, a noted mystery writer.
EBN: Are they all eBooks or do you do print as well?
JR: To date, I haven’t published the books in print yet. What I discovered is that because of the short length of the joke books I’m publishing, I would actually lose money with the current print on demand vendors. I plan to later print collections of jokes — where I combine 4 or 5 of the books together for a print version.
EBN: You say that you have sold 6,500 eBooks in less than a year. What has driven all of these sales?
JR: Cover design and price. For publishing, eBook technology has leveled the playing field. However, I see many small eBook publishers and self-published authors willing to publish books with poorly designed covers. I think that’s a big mistake. When readers are browsing in eBookstores, I want my books to compete head-to-head visually with books published by traditional publishers.
EBN: What is the best price for an eBook?
JR: The ideal range for eBooks is $2.99 – $9.99. Consumers are smart. They know that all they’re paying for in terms of delivery is a digital file, which cost pennies to distribute. I’m convinced that if you price eBooks at an impulse purchase price of $2.99, you easily make up in volume, and I think my sales have shown that.
When a consumer browses for eBooks, they look at the lists of best-selling eBooks. And, pricing can impact those rankings. Over the last several months, I’ve experimented with lowering the price of select eBooks to 99 cents for one week. I gain sales in volume. I gain sales as the books go up in the sales ranking. Then, when I switch the price back to $2.99, I also make money as the book slowly goes back down in the rankings.
EBN: Where are you selling your eBooks?
JR: Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Amazon Kindle. I’ve also used Smashwords, but haven’t seen many direct sales via Smashwords. I sell the most books via Nook, then Apple, then Amazon.