TIPM Interview | Bubok Publishing: Head of Internationalisation – Justine Petrenko

Bubok offer self-publishing services to authors and just launched their UK operation in February this year. Bubok is entering a competitive UK DIY self-publishing arena, already populated by companies like Lulu, Blurb, CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle. Authors have the choice to upload book files in PDF, Word document or PPT, publish their books without a fee, and then avail of additional paid-for design and marketing services. You can find a general overview of Bubok on The Independent Publishing Magazine here.
This week I caught up with Justine Petrenko – Head of Internationalisation at Bubok – for an interview to learn more about Bubok and why the company has launched in the UK having previously established set-ups in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina and Sweden. Justine has worked previously at Lulu (German Online Communication Manager), retailer, FloraQueen (Social Media Manager), Le Cool Publishing (International Marketing Manager) and A. Sutter Dialog Services (Digital Media Designer).
[TIPM] Bubok first began in 2007 as a writing community and self-publishing service. You’ve now decided to partner with Service Point and launch a localised UK website. Why partner with a document and print management service rather than a full-service UK print partner like CPI Antony Rowe, Fast-Print Worldwide or Lightning Source who are all specialists in the book production/print industry with global networks?
[JUSTINE] The goal of Bubok is to become a global self publishing platform for authors and be able to provide the same printing quality in each country. Service Point (SP) is represented in many countries where we are already present or are planning to expand into. We also worked with SP in Spain and have been very satisfied with their printing service. As they already know our profile and needs, it was natural for us to choose the same printing partner again in the UK, as we know their work well and they have the flexibility to manage our expansion plans in the future.
[TIPM] This is a highly competitive area of the publishing service market. What do you think sets Bubok above and apart from other online-based book publishing services like Blurb, Lulu and CreateSpace? I’m also particularly interested in how the founders of Bubok view Author Solutions’ Spanish language self-publishing service, Palibrio, and, again, how Bubok sees itself in the self-publishing service market in relation to global companies like ASI?
[JUSTINE] What sets us apart from other book publishing services is the fact that compared to the founders of other companies like Blurb, Lulu etc., Bubok’s founder, María Herrera Burguillo, has a twelve year background in the writer and author community. Before Bubok he founded Grupobuho and Portal de Escritor to help authors to write, exchange experiences, publish their work and find people with the same interests. He has also participated in the foundation of Entrelectores, an online platform for book recommendations. His twelve years of experience have created trust between Bubok and the authors, as they are confident that they are in good hands with Bubok. Because of all this, it’s easy for Bubok to enter the market, reach agreements with entities like the national library and maintain other international relationships that have proven to be helpful when launching our new websites.

The fact that we are using the same printer in all our markets is another aspect that differentiates us from the rest. We can assure our authors that wherever they choose to print their book or wherever the book is purchased, the look and feel of their book will always have the same quality with no nasty surprises.
[TIPM] It may differentiate Bubok from some self-publishing services, but many companies use Lightning Source now with print operations in the US, UK, Europe, Australia and the Far East. Bubok has clearly been wise in choosing strong global partners. Amazon, since it has expanded its print and digital publishing platforms, has instead kept much of its facilities in-house with KDP and CreateSpace. It took Lulu some time to address print quality issues and consistency across the board – in particular their print facilities in Spain.
So clearly locality and community is a priority for Bubok?
[JUSTINE] Yes, Bubok is locally represented in each market and our users and authors always deal with a local Bubok representative.

The main difference between Bubok and Palibro is the different business model. We do not charge any upfront costs for book publishing and the author is free to try our site without any commitment.
[TIPM] Is Bubok’s intention to pursue the ‘no upfront costs’ business model in the future or diversify into the kind of business model operated by Palibro and many other self-publishing services?
[JUSTINE] No, we are not planning to try to change our business model; we believe that our authors should be able to use our tools for free.
[TIPM] Having reviewed the Bubok service, I felt there was a degree of fine tuning and polishing needed to the website. Just on the document requirements authors need to load their file to the Bubok engine – what are the prescribed formats an author can upload a book file; word doc, RTF, PDF, etc?
[JUSTINE] Yes we are aware that the website needs some fine tuning and polishing. We are working with our UK team to address this so that it is as localised as soon as possible. Our aim is not to just translate the website but to make it as localised as possible.
The author can upload his work as a Word document, PDF or a ppt.

For less experienced writers we offer Word templates http://www.bubok.co.uk/downloads-templates. The author simply downloads the book template, copies and pastes his manuscript and uploads it back to Bubok.

In our Help section, the author can find help with regards to PDF files, how to embed fonts and other useful tips for PDF upload.
[TIPM] At the moment you appear to be offering additional ‘Editing Services’ for authors. However, these services only include custom cover, website & domain, and a ‘roll-up for book presentation’. Can you explain what these services include and if they are carried out in-house or outsourced? Do you have any plans to expand the list of add-on services?
[JUSTINE] Bubok is new to the UK market and compared to other services we offer in other counties our Editorial Services are limited. This will change during 2012 as we are planning to offer the same services in the UK as we do in other markets, covering most of the pre- and post-publishing aspects of book publishing.

Custom Cover: Cover design includes a cover design font, spine and back. When ordered, a Bubok consultant will personally contact the author that has contracted the service, to learn more about the book and create a brief in order to produce a cover that is fitting for the book. Following this, the author is presented with 3 cover options to choose from. Once the cover is chosen, adjustments are made to insure the author is completely satisfied.

Website: We can create a website for our authors with their own email addresses and domain names. The website can be personalised to the author’s requirements in order to help them to promote their published book. Social Media channels are also included. In the first year we offer a full maintenance service which is also included in the price.
[TIPM] Does that mean the author can take the design and personalised domain – lock and stock – to another host outside of Bubok or do they have to start from scratch with a new author website?
[JUSTINE] If the author decides after one year to use a different host, he / she can continue with the same website design. No need to start from scratch.

Roll Up: Is for promotional purposes. We have been asked by our authors in the past for this type of service and decided to offer a Roll Up promotional banner stand. It´s perfect when introducing a new book, attending a book signing or a reading. We offer the design of the roll up, the printing and the shipping to a chosen location. The roll up comes in a carrier which can be easily transported and stored for future events. It is colour printed in high quality robust substrate and there is a choice of matt or gloss. The size is 85 x 206 cm.
[TIPM] That’s something other self-publishing services don’t tend to supply. Sure, there are the bookmarks, postcards and posters, but an ‘on the road’ book tour roll-up sounds a much-needed promotional device produced in-house by Bubok.
[JUSTINE] Yes, most of the services are offered in-house. If we need special assistance in one of the services we would outsource to one of our trusted partners.
[TIPM] What kind of authors do you think Bubok and its services will most appeal to?
[JUSTINE] We don’t have a specific author profile that we would like to target. Our website is open to every type of writer and aspiring author in every type of niche, market or language.
We do think that with our global presence and global agreement with Service Point, authors that aspire to publish their work in several countries have an advantage using Bubok as the book can be printed in several countries with minimal shipping costs.
[TIPM] Bubok clearly has some deep foundations in the Hispanic language communities with developed websites for Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, as well as Sweden, and now the UK. Tell me more about the core foundation of Bubok, the people behind it and its core values as a global company.
[JUSTINE] Most of our business partners and investors are Spanish speaking with interesting professional backgrounds http://www.bubok.co.uk/about_us

The companies that have invested in Bubok Publishing S.L. are evoluZiona, Secuoyas, Nervia and Grupo Intercom. Those responsible for developing the project are Evoluziona (experts in software and web development) and Secuoyas (specialists in design and application).

As I mentioned earlier, Bubok has been created for author communities and because of that one of our core values is to always represent the author and his rights first with complete transparency, free publishing and no publishing restrictions, so authors have complete freedom to publish.
[TIPM] A look on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk reveals a vast support of Spanish published ebooks by Bubok. Actually, you’ve published few print books in this part of the world. Do you see the future of Bubok being an exclusively digital-only publisher, with a concentration on the Spanish languages, or do you see proper expansion into print editions and much more English language titles?
[JUSTINE] Because we are a company with a Spanish heritage, naturally it was easy for us to firstly publish titles from Spanish authors and open several websites in Spanish speaking countries. As part of our global expansion, we would like to focus not only on the Spanish language but also on other languages as demonstrated by our move into the UK – our first English speaking market. We would like to give the UK authors and aspiring writers the same opportunities that we have given to our Spanish language writers.
Also it’s a big advantage for Spanish authors and writers that are based in the UK, who are not comfortable with writing in English, as they now have the option to publish a book in the UK in their native language.
[TIPM] Thanks for taking the time out Justine to answer some questions. Keep us all updated at The Independent Publishing Magazine on developments at Bubok.
[JUSTINE] I certainly will and thank you for the opportunity.
About Bubok
Founded in 2007, Bubok is committed to self-publishing and has secured a global customer base built on its passion for books and writing. Offering a full professional service throughout the entire writing process, Bubok is easy to use, smart and cost effective. Its international presence means a book can be promoted on any of the Bubok country websites and printed in the country where the order has been taken. Bubok has partnered with Amazon in Spain and is hoping to secure an arrangement with Amazon UK later this year.
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