PubIt, set for release in the summer, will offer contributed works through the bookseller's Web site and digital bookstore. Interested writers and publishers can submit their names and contact information on the PubIt Web site for notification when the service is available.
B&N did not say how big of a slice it would take in sales through its sites. However, the company promised a "simple and competitive royalty model and compensation process," when details are released in the coming weeks.
Works published through B&N will be in ePub, an open electronic-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum. B&N offers more than 1 million digital titles in ePub, protecting the works through the company's copyright protection technology.
In promoting the upcoming service, B&N says it offers the "broadest audiences of readers anywhere," through its free e-reader software available for the PC, Mac, BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad, as well as B&N's Nook e-reader that customers can use to browse and buy PubIt titles, as well as other books from B&N's online store.
In entering the self-publishing market, B&N joins Scribd, Xlibris, Amazon.com and other companies competing for would-be authors, as well as established writers. But the cut of sales taken by these companies varies quite a bit.
Scribd, for example, lets writers keep 80% of the author-determined sale price of electronic documents, while Amazon.com's Kindle Store returns 35% of the sale price to the authors.
The e-book market in general has been growing, particularly with the rising popularity of e-readers and other mobile devices, such as Apple's iPad and iPhone. However, large publishes have been slow to sell works online in part out of fear of unauthorized copying. In addition, digital books sell less than hardcover books, which cut into profits.