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Tolino Now Carries Self-Published eBooks from ePubli

logo_full[1]Tolino was always intended to be Germany’s answer to the Kindle Store, but until today it was missing one of its competitor’s core features: self-published ebooks. That changed today.

ePubli, a self-pub service owned by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, was pleased to announce today that they are now distributing ebooks to Tolino. Self-published authors and indie publishers can now earn 60% of the retail price of ebooks sold via Tolino or its 5 partner ebookstores (Weltbild, Hugendubel,, Deutsche Telekom, and Club Bertelsmann).

Tolino launched in early March 2013 and its partners are believed to have a combined 35% to 40% share of the German ebook market, coming in slightly behind Amazon’s 45% to 50% market share.

ePubli is one of a number of digital initiatives by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (In addition to Skoobe and others). It was initially launched by Holtzbrinck 5 years ago, and it currently offers basic and advanced ebook distribution services as well as POD production and distribution. In addition to Tolino, ePubli also distributes ebooks to Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play Books, Kobo, and many others.

I have to say that I wasn’t familiar with this service, and after reading over the ePubli website this morning I don’t see a reason to learn more. ePubli might have august parentage but this is not a service I would trust.

The ePubli website implies that you need an ISBN to distribute your ebook to the Kindle Store and other ebookstores. Furthermore, ePubli wants to charge a yearly fee of 20 euros for that ISBN.

I find this rather curious. I was under the impression that an ISBN might require a 1-time registration fee, not a yearly fee. What’s even more interesting is that some distribution services like Smashwords will even provide the ISBN at no cost (with conditions attached). Also, Amazon doesn’t require an ISBN for self-pub ebooks in the Kindle Store.

I have no problem with the fee, but I don’t trust a service that is deceptive about the reason the fee is required. ePubli’s behavior reminds me of the reputation that legacy publishers have of obfuscating royalty statements, and it is enough to put ePubli on the NEVER USE category.

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Rob Hoare May 26, 2013 um 6:59 pm

It looks like Germany does indeed charge a per year fee for ISBN numbers:

The wholesale cost is only 3.40 EUR + tax "per title per calendar year", or less, but a minimum of 79 EUR per publisher.

So although there’s a big profit margin, and an ISBN isn’t always needed, when it is needed a self publisher in Germany with only a few titles would save money.

The ISBN agency in each country can set their own fee structure. In Canada and New Zealand, for example, they are free.

Nate Hoffelder May 26, 2013 um 7:19 pm

Now that is something I didn’t know. If I were Epubli I would get the ISBNs from the UK, where they are sold and not licensed. The UK sub would be useful for this.

It’s curious that Smashwords, a Canadian company, gets their ISBNs from the US-based Bowker (and then gives them away). Maybe a volume order is easier to arrange in the US than in Canada?

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