Between OverDrive, Streetlib, Page Foundry, Aerbook, Gumroad, and Ingram Digital, indie retailers have any number of options for selling ebooks on their site or in an app. And soon they will have one more.
Late last week American West Books announced the launch of Hummingbird Digital Media, a new startup that wants to "democratize ebook retailing". Hummingbird wants to offer a turnkey ebookstore that retailers, publishers, and even authors can use to set up their own stores.
Later this year Hummingbird plans to launch a platform which will offer a branded bookstore website and reading apps for Android and iOS. Few details are available now, but a reader over at The Passive Voice dug into the fine print and noted that it said that a "merchant’s profit varies from publisher to publisher but ranges in the neighborhood of 12 percent to 23 percent of the retail price of the ebook or audiobook". (If that sounds good to you, Hummingbird has started a mailing list for those who want to run a store.)
I got the press release announcement last week, but wasn't inspired to write about Hummingbird until I read the coverage in Shelf Awareness today, which included quotes like: "Imagine a world where e-book sales were not dominated by three huge companies. Imagine a world where thousands of individuals and organizations could compete with Apple's iBooks, Amazon's Kindle, and Barnes & Noble's Nook."
There's no need to imagine it; we already live in that world.
As I pointed out in my first paragraph, anyone who wants to start an ebookstore can avail themselves of a multitude of options. Many do start their own stores, and yet we still live in a world dominated by a few major ebook retailers.
Something tells me that Hummingbird won't be able to change that situation.
image by Ben Brown