Indie Spotlight is our monthly column on self-publishing. This month Siobhan Daiko interviews Allison Izard, the Hong Kong country manager at Pixalib, an international company providing a publishing platform and online bookstore for visual books by indie authors.
Where is Pixalib based, and what is your mission statement?
Pixalib was founded in Shanghai by two French associates and their Chinese partner. They gathered their knowledge in printing, factory processes and marketing to create a print-on-demand company. They quickly noticed not only that artists wanted to make their own books for themselves but also that they wanted to share them with the rest of the world. That is why they designed a cloud-based publishing platform and bookstore to help smart and creative people, especially up and coming artists and visionaries, get their work out to a wider audience, cheaply and easily, while earning money in the process.
In the past, only artists already famous and those who could spend money on printing had the chance to make their own book. Thanks to digital technology, and print-on-demand, artists have now the means to promote themselves and share their passion. Not only is Pixalib's print-on-demand model cost-efficient but it allows indie authors to market and sell their work at competitive bookstore prices.
By providing book creation, on-line marketing, printing and logistical services to indie authors, Pixalib makes it possible for artists to focus on their art only.
For now, PixaTeams are located in France, Italy, Shanghai and Hong Kong and, there’ll be one in the UK soon.
What type of books do you focus on?
Pixalib focuses on high quality visual art books such as photography books, illustrated books, comics, etc. We are proud to be the first company printing-on-demand sewn binding books at competitive market prices.
What are the advantages of your print-on-demand model?
It means that our customers, indie artists and authors, only need to pay for the first copy of their book. All other costs are covered by paying customers who enjoy very competitive bookstore prices. So now, any artist can publish and sell his or her own book without taking risks, spending money ordering many copies and dealing with unsold books.
Making a book has never been so easy: artists enjoy creative, easy-to-use tools and anyone is now able to design his or her book. Pixalib simplifies the creation and publishing processes.
Artists are now at the heart of the process; they retain creative control, and they are freed to focus only on the creation of their book.
What is the up-front cost to the author, or artist?
As I said, thanks to our print-on-demand model, artists need to pay only for the first copy before selling their book worldwide.
The up-front cost depends on the format of the book and the number of pages but in general, in Hong Kong, it is between 250 - 350 HKD (approx 30 - 40 USD). The cost of the proof copy is always a bit more expensive as we have to confirm the final lay-out, and to work on the file to make it printable, and then export it to the printer.
What percentage of the sales price is paid to the author?
Customers enjoy competitive market prices. On those market prices, 60% goes to the printing costs, 20% to Pixalib and 20% to the client – the artist, or author. Artists can order several books with no minimum order required and enjoy discounts from two books ordered. This way, they can enjoy more than a 20% share.
What about distribution?
Many of our authors order multiple copies of their books, and successfully go to bookstores to display them.
Where does the book get printed and how long does it take?
The printing depends on the geographical position of the buyer, in order to offer shipping costs as low as $5 for a book. Sales to Asian customers are printed and sent from our print centre in China. For Europe our print centre in Italy would be used. We are continually investing in print centres around the world, which means authors can be sure their books will be delivered to customers anywhere in the world within 15 days and that the quality will be the same as we follow the same processes everywhere.
Why should an author use your service rather than go to one of the bigger companies such as Amazon or Ingram Spark?
Pixalib is an online bookstore on which artists are not lost in the crowd. Each artist enjoys a customized selling page with a viewer, descriptions, videos, photos, links...Promotional tools are at the artist's disposal (a viewer can be inserted on websites and personal pages, free flyers are printed when holding events, interviews are posted on our social networks...)
If artists start doing well, Pixalib appreciates the efforts being made and will put some marketing effort into them (presence on the homepage, slider, “Our Selection”...)
Pixalib is specialised in providing high quality books and not only paperbacks. Pixalib will highlight the content of the book with its bright colors and perfect binding.
Authors and artists can consider Pixalib as a toolbox: they can directly see their statistics on their account, send newsletters to their clients, analyse their sales, ask for payment...everything is completely transparent.
Last but not least, the PixaTeam is behind them, and supports them.
What advice would you give to an author seeking to self-publish?
Authors should pay attention to the quality of the printing, the after sales service (is it easy to reach someone in the company and be given pieces of advice?) and understand the services included in the offer.
Some companies offer to take authors’ books into bookstores, but that does not mean that the books will actually be displayed in bookstores; in general it means only that clients can order a given book from a given bookstore. This is really different.
Is it easy to reach the PixaTeam?
Reaching the PixaTeam is really easy. Phone numbers for each region are displayed on the website or simply write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of the PixaTeam near to your location will contact you soon and you will be able to ask as many questions as you want and, also to have the contact details of the team member to speed up the process.
Pixalib in Asia
Pixalib books on Asia include Shanghai Cityscape by Florian Delalee, Made in China by Officina Contemporanea and Myanmar, by Luca BracaliFollow Pixalib Asia on Facebook here.