Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Ebook Weekly : Review of Cobblestone Press

Cobblestone Press

Edited April 17th

This week we’re reviewing Cobblestone Press. They opened their cyber doors in 2006.

“Cobblestone Press is an electronic, full service publisher of mainstream, sensual, and erotic romance, releasing two to three digital books a week in a variety of downloadable formats. It is our mission to provide quality romance books in electronic formats and to raise the standard in digital publishing. If you are new to eBooks, check out our eBook guide for help.”

They sell only ebooks. Their books are also sold through Fictionwise. They have a chat room, a newsletter, several forums, several yahoo chat groups, RSS feed, a blog and a quarterly emagazine. CP merchandise can be purchased through CafePress.

Website layout – There are links to View Cart, Home, CPQ, Recently Released, Bestsellers,Subscribe- RSS Feed, Coming Soon, Chat Room, Ebooks categories, About Us, Gift Certificates, Submissions, BLOG, CP Mercandise, Contact Us,Community Center, Customer Service, Copyrightand Tradmarks at the side of each page. There is now a search by author link. Or, you can click on a book then search the link of the author’s name leading to a page with each author’s books listed (with except link), the author’s webpage (with link).

Book length – Book lengths are listed for each title.
Length Chart:

  • Trystsà¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚ ¢: 10,000-20,000
  • Novella: 20,001-40,000
  • Novel: 40,001-65,000
  • Full Novel: 65,001-100,000

Rating- At the bottom of each page there is a small link listed as rating system but when I clicked on it, I got a pop up message that said “Opps – Page not found.” Shouldn’t that be “oops?”

Information about each book - Clicking on a book title will take you to a page which shows the book cover (artist listed), the author’s page (which might list email address, short author bio and one sentence book reviews), the ebook formats, excerpt, prices, ISBN ebook numbers and a brief description of the story. There are guidelines for sensuality, violence or language…

* * *

  • Navigation – By genre, line, series, author or book name.
  • Excerpts – one page
  • Reviews – none by book purchasers
  • Series – listed
  • Wishlist – None
  • Cart – After you pick a book and format, you have to click to add it to your cart. You are then taken back to CP and have to click on the “View Cart” link. Once there, you can edit or remove items, or continue shopping. Information will be remembered during browsing, can be accessed at any time, and books will remain in the cart until removed.
  • Bookshelf - none
  • Payments – Credit card (Visa, Mastercard. Am Ex, Diners, Discover, JCB, for non US currency choices are restricted to Visa or MC) or Paypal. If you choose to pay by CC, you can also choose “Bill Me Later.”
  • Downloads – an email with a dl link will be sent immediately. You can also cut and past the dl link into your browser (which is what I had to do). Note: The download link expires but no time limit was given.. Be sure to back up your ebook immediately.
  • Confirmation – A confirmation email with dl link was sent a few minutes after my purchase.
  • Account set up – Billing information can be saved for future purchases. CP assigns a customer number so be sure to write it down. I’m not sure if this can be changed or not. I chose to pay with paypal so I’m not sure if CC information is saved.
  • Formats – HTML, Adobe, Microsoft Lit, Mobipocket (chosen when book is added to the cart)

* * *

Irks -Books are rather pricey for the length. It took a while to be transferred to the cart service. The download pages are available for a short time only but the time limit wasn’t mentioned! After that, I guess you could contact the vendor. CP states that you should allow up to 24 hours to wait for any response from them. Their book covers appear to be CGI and for the most part, look like a great source of cover snark for Bam.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

22 Comments

  1. Angie
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 07:01:31

    I’m reading a Cobblestone Press book right now, though I bought it from Fictionwise so I didn’t use their cart. The one thing I did notice, when I went to the website to see if there were other books by the author I’m reading, that there’s no way to browse by author from the home page. Unless I’m missing it? And there doesn’t see to be a search function, so it’s difficult to find books by one author, to be sure you’re not missing any in a series, since you can only browse by genre, title or line.

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  2. Jayne
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 07:43:31

    Angie, I didn’t see any author search either. Which I think is really weird. There isn’t even a list of them anywhere. The only way to discover what else they might have with CP, is to look under a book title. At the bottom of the page, you can see the author name listed and if you click on that, it will take you to a page with all their titles listed.

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  3. Teddy Pig
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 07:52:24

    “Opps – Page not found.â€? Shouldn't that be “oops?â€?

    Yet another reason to use default error pages. Silly admins!

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  4. Alan Morgan
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 12:07:16

    Wow, they finally got off their butts and started putting things up on FictionWise like they said they were going to do… oh, before they opened? When I asked about this over on Romance Divas a couple of months ago I was given a very snarky response that basically boiled down to “that’s confidential information”.

    I’m sorry– I won’t publish with an epublisher that does not regularly use FictionWise as part of their business practice. FictionWise is simply too big to ignore in this small market; the impact is too great.

    Don’t count on their newsletter working, either– I received it fine for some time and then it suddenly stopped working. I didn’t bother investigating, it wasn’t worth my time.

    The author page used to be part of the site, until they redesigned it and optimized that feature out of the layout. Not very brilliant.

    I was planning on sending a bunch of stuff their way when they first announced their plans and opened their doors. Since then, I’ve not been impressed with their conduct or business acumen. They’re on my avoid list.

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  5. Alan Morgan
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 12:13:21

    Looking around… I found this:

    http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/byauthor.htm

    Not sure if it’s still current, given that it’s not actually linked in the site navigation, but it used to be.

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  6. Angie
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 12:31:32

    I'm sorry- I won't publish with an epublisher that does not regularly use FictionWise as part of their business practice. FictionWise is simply too big to ignore in this small market; the impact is too great.

    You may want to reconsider this, Alan. Yes, Fictionwise is big, but when you consider that they try to essentially force some publishers into contracts with them, taking well over half of the book profits (keeping in mind they’re only the retailer, they didn’t write, edit, format or publish the book, they simply sell it) making it essentially impossible for the publisher to do so unless the author will accept a drastically reduced rate of royalties, it’s probably not the best idea to simply say you won’t deal with a publisher who doesn’t deal with Fictionwise. Samhain doesn’t deal with Fictionwise at this time. Our books are available to them via Lightening Source, just as they are for every other retailer out there, but Fictionwise has chosen not to carry more than a few titles, instead trying to tie us into a financially impossible contract. Hopefully this will change in the future as we’d love to have our books available there, but it’s not financially feasible at this time.

    So, using us as an example, are you really saying that you’d not be interested in dealing with Samhain, ever, because our books aren’t available at Fictionwise, despite the fact that we have solid print and marketing plans, and distribution in brick and mortar stores that’s growing every day? It seems to me that there’s more to a publisher than just whether they deal with Fictionwise or not–things like sales numbers, marketing plans, quality of the books, editor/author relationships and so much more.

    My point is, things are not always what they seem to be on the surface and there might be an excellent reason for publishers not doing something. Reasons that might not be immediately apparent to authors and readers, who are unaware of the intricacies of dealing with the publishing/retail side of things. Fictionwise is not the be all and end all and I think it’s impulsive to say that whether or not a publisher deals with them is the deal-breaker for you.

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  7. Sarah McCarty
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 12:42:19

    Alan-

    As an author, I would not be impressed by a publishing house’s participation in Fictionwise. They have a very unfriendly, unrealistic pricing structure for a middle man. IMO, there are better ways of spending dollars to get increased traffic and customer awareness. . I would be much more interested in the publisher having a good website, an excellent customer friendly shopping cart complete with gift certificates and wish lists, good covers, and a demonstrated marketing plan (more sophisticated than relying on authors promoting their own books) that is designed to make their publsihing house known in the greater romance reading community.

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  8. Alan Morgan
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 13:10:07

    Angie: Perhaps I should have clarified a bit further– an electronic-only publisher, which I do not count Samhain as. I’ve been very impressed with Samhain, and indeed, consider you high on my list to submit to if I have something that I think will work best for both of us.

    Cobblestone always said that they were never entering the print business. That may be changing now, I don’t know, but it’s a little too hard to ignore the market share of the current iTunes of the eBook marketplace.

    I don’t necessarily like FictionWise, from what everyone’s said about how their rates work. I’ve entertained the idea of launching a similar service and undercutting their prices– but then realized that I’d mainly be dealing with contracts all day long if I did so. Not my preferred choice, given that I’m a coder and a writer.

    Most ebooks sell a large portion of their copies near their release date. Further spikes down the line are usually tied to some major publicity event– a review from the Ja(y)nes, Ms. Giggles, and especially hitting FictionWise. FictionWise is also a good way for authors to keep selling backlist books; you may have sold them to several different publishers but if the reader can purchase them all in one location, they will snap them up.

    I’ve heard some of the figures of the sales spikes of books hitting FW and I have to say… when it’s equal or greater than the initial sales directly from the publisher, that’s pretty significant.

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  9. Angie
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 13:21:32

    Alan, I appreciate the kind words for Samhain but my point was a bit more broad than just us :) Sales at Fictionwise can be good, though not every book sells well at Fictionwise so even still, making that a deal breaker seems rash–but let me stress, some publishers are placed in a position of taking a huge hit on any type of profit (read: zero to almost zero) and dramatically decreased royalties for authors to be able to get on Fictionwise. So again I say, don’t judge even Cobblestone based on that unless you’re completely sure of why they’ve done what they’ve done. You might be ruling out an excellent publisher!

    As an aside, there’s a newer ebook retailer, All Romance Ebooks, whose owners are working very hard to draw in customers and get their name out. As the name implies, they deal in romance or books with romantic elements and I think they have a wonderful future if they continue to show the same commitment they have.

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  10. bam
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 14:22:00

    Come on, Jayne… even I don’t touch those! It’d be like shooting a fish in a cup!

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  11. Jayne
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 14:33:54

    Well, it’s still a great resource if you ever run out of other covers to snark. Not that that’s likely….I especially like this one. Looks like he’s already started taking those hormones for his sex change operation.

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  12. Ciar Cullen
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 15:16:06

    Well, what Angie said of course (I’d be in trouble if I didn’t agree ;o). Not really, but Alan, fictionwise is a dead end as far as I’m concerned. It’s a royalty killer, and you’re obligated to sign over your first born. Sales may be good for some books, but you’re up against a lot of factors. Personally, I’d put it at the bottom of my list of requirements.

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  13. Jane
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 15:27:05

    As a customer, I would rather buy from Fictionwise because it’s too inconvenient for me (remember I am very lazy) to go to fifteen different websites to see what is for sale. Plus, from fictionwise, I can keep an “eternal” bookshelf, see customer ratings, bulk download, and pay with paypal. There are definite advantages buying from Fictionwise. I buy all my Belgrave House books there even though I could buy directly from Belgrave House. It’s just easier.

    Cobblestone is wayyy expensive, imo, for the amount of book you get for your dollar. Weirdly, too, I know that Sybil requested a book for review and was told that they don’t send books to blogs for review. I found that very astonishing. Apparently they claim that blogs don’t sell any books for ebook vendors or maybe any vendor.

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  14. Emily
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 15:36:46

    I think Cobblestone may be averse to the range of content in blog reviews and the potential for them to be negative, thats something publisher vary in their approach to depending on their style. I published a book with Cobblestone and was happy with them on the whole–especially as they are very open to unusual content.

    The Fictionwise thing may be a matter of taste and strategy. None of my books have sold more than 5% of their copies over there but it can be important for books that sell well with them, or publishers that don’t have strong in house sales. From a selfish writer’s point of view I think Loose Id has a good strategy in listing books at FW only after their in house sales have tailed right off (given that in house sales are more profitable for the writer and the publisher).

    Personally I hope allromanceebooks can build to become some competition for them.

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  15. Miki
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 17:04:51

    I’ve been generally pleased with the books I’ve bought from Cobblestone, although I do agree with Jane that they are overpriced for the length of the books. Of course, they’re definitely not alone in that.

    I read Angie’s comments about Fictionwise, and I find it frustrating that’s the pricing there is so hard on the authors. But I’ll admit, it’s where I buy most of my ebooks. One thing I find advantageous there – as a reader – is that the site gives “word count” as a measure of the book length. (To be fair, I should point out that this is only available for books that are not encrypted, so mainstream publishers are generally exempt).

    The ePublishers all have different measures for their books (“Novel”, “Quickie”, etc.) and what one calls an novel doesn’t even compare with what another calls a novel. And while I suspect the ePublishers provide the word count – which mean they may not be measured the same – they give me a more accurate way to compare apples to apples. I just can’t justify spending $5 on a 12,000 word novella, even if it’s called a “category” length book on its ePublisher’s website.

    If more ePublishers were honest (or less “cute”) about the lengths of their books, I would be more willing to “site-hop” and shop where the author gets more of the profit.

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  16. Emily
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 17:51:13

    I agree. I have paid as muc a $4 for 8000 words and was less than pleased. Personally I wouldn;t count naything a novel until it is large enough to print and bind–so 50,000 words or so. Although you can general get the wordcount range they use for each word somewhere on the website.

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  17. Charlene
    Apr 15, 2007 @ 19:49:58

    Have to agree with Angie on Fictionwise. I’m a happy camper at two epublishers who don’t use Fictionwise (other than Samhain’s FW availability through Lightning Source). I wouldn’t discount a publisher on those grounds.

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  18. Karen Scott
    Apr 16, 2007 @ 05:42:01

    Well, it's still a great resource if you ever run out of other covers to snark

    Their website looks spookily similar to the Changeling Press site.

    Jayne, not only did Caspar The Ghost look as if the hormone treatment had just kicked in, he also had Ken-Doll hair.

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  19. Deanna Lee
    Apr 16, 2007 @ 20:06:48

    Thank you for the review!!

    All the best,

    Deanna Lee

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  20. Shelli Stevens
    Apr 16, 2007 @ 20:54:23

    I’m an author who works with both Samhain and Cobblestone Press (Both are fabulous, I love them!)

    I am just now getting a taste of Fictionwise. While of course it’s better for the author if a reader buys directly from the publisher, I can certainly understand a reader not wanting to site hop to pick up their books. Personally, I look at it as more exposure. I realize I won’t see as much money, but I love that I’m reaching a whole new audience. Who knows, maybe those same buyers at Fictionwise come back to the publisher when that author releases again.

    Oh! And about the Cobblestone Press author page, I think it was down for awhile during a site update. It had been up until a short while ago. I asked about it too, because that’s always how I search for books.

    Shelli :)

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  21. Brandi Loyd
    Apr 16, 2007 @ 22:06:17

    As with most fast-paced Web sites, things are ever changing. :)

    I can confirm that the Cobblestone Press author pages are back up after a brief downtime during updates & redesign. Customers can search titles via Author, Title, and Series…as well as checking out Best Sellers for every month since the site opened.

    Thanks for review.
    Brandi

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  22. Jayne
    Apr 17, 2007 @ 04:20:01

    Brandi, thanks for the updated information. I have edited the review and added it.

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