John Balla Explains How eBooks Can Work As Stores

Cathedral Publishing, a company that makes multimedia publishing tools, has a new application available that lets authors sell songs from within an eBook. We caught up with the company’s co-founder John Balla to discuss how authors can turn eBooks into stores and how to figure out pricing for multimedia books.

EBN: How does ‘The Book is the Store’ app work?

JB: ‘The Book is the Store’ is a highly contextual e-commerce platform designed to give the reader the ideal product without disrupting the reading experience. These products are designed around the context of the book, and only presented when the option fits. Authors and publishers can offer premium products through affiliates like or even Amazon in the absence of a proprietary storefront. But authors and publishers must be vigilant when considering affiliate options, ensuring that the product or service is truly providing added value, not just a quick way to make an extra buck. ‘

EBN: Do people really want to read multimedia books?

JB: Without a doubt. As the old adage goes, ‘Don’t just tell me. Show me,’ speaks to the inherent desire for visual and audio compliments to written presentations. It simply stimulates the senses and helps readers understand what is being described. This is especially true for non-fiction, but also has applications in novels and essays if the author’s vision goes beyond just writing.

Today web pages provide rich, multimedia functionality, including integrated text, graphics, video and audio. Multimedia eBooks are simply mirroring the online experience that consumers are already accustomed to, and expect. It’s no surprise that Amazon is working feverishly to develop a notepad device as its single-function Kindle continues to lose market share to integrated, multi-function, devices like the iPad.

EBN: What is the best price for an eBook?

JB: Cheaper is better. Both John Locke and Amanda Hocking priced their eBooks on Amazon between $2.99 and $0.99, and both sold over a million copies. For Hocking, Hollywood is knocking on her door with a film option, and she is on track to pocket $2 million from Kindle sales alone.

For multimedia eBooks — complete with audio, video, and color graphics — price points can be somewhat higher but should remain relatively cheap to avoid price friction. Somewhere around $1.99 to $4.99 is the ideal range. Just make sure if you go for a higher price point that you can totally justify it. If you have a novel with a complete soundtrack of songs, all professionally recorded, mixed and mastered, a $4.99 price point is reasonable. Add high quality video to the mix, and a price point in the $7 range is justified.

EBN: How can authors/publishers use multimedia books as an e-commerce platform and should they?

JB: Who would say ‘no’ to adding to the reader’s experience and an additional revenue stream? That’s what authors and publishers can get when they properly implement an e-commerce platform for multimedia eBooks. If done right, an e-commerce platform provides readers with additional value and generates new revenue streams for the author and/or publisher.