Vook, one of the pioneering e-book app developers, is launching a new business today with its Vook e-book creation and publishing platform, a comprehensive, cloud-based tool that allows authors and publishers to turn any document into a professionally styled e-book. Vook's platform then makes it easy to distribute the finished e-book to Amazon, iBooks and BN.com. The platform also allows users to embed images, videos and other multimedia into e-books to create enhanced e-books. PW has been testing the platform and it could indeed be a game changer, giving small and large publishers fairly inexpensive, one-stop access to e-book publication.

The Vook platform is essentially an easy-to-use WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, like Apple's iBooks Author app, but not restricted to one e-bookstore. Users create an account at www.vook.com, upload a file (the system accepts .doc, .docx, .epub, .css, .png, .jpg, .mp3 and .mp4 formats for text, images, video and audio) and then begin editing. Vook has created a set of templates, though advanced users can import their own style sheets or create their own templates that can be used for other books.

Vook has created tools for very easy image editing (images can be resized within the e-book editor) and granular style adjustment--fonts, headings, layouts and other elements are easily adjustable. Vook's system will be familiar to anyone who has used, for instance, Apple software like iPhoto, iWeb or Pages--it's all drag-and-drop and easy to use. It's far simpler to use than professional products like Adobe Photoshop.

Once an e-book is styled and meta data, marketing and pricing information has been entered, the system creates a preview e-book that is e-mailed to a customer's address and can be opened in e-book software like iBooks. Then, after making any necessary changes, users can either get an ISBN and distribute the e-book through Vook to Amazon, iBooks and BN.com, or download the packaged file and upload it to e-bookstores themselves. Vook then provides a sales-tracking dashboard as well as royalty payments.

Pricing is structured for large and small publishers. Annual account fees range from $79/ month (or $849 for a year) at the basic level to $299 per month ($3,199 for a year); Vook is also offering custom enterprise accounts. Then, distribution of e-books--sending the finished product to the e-bookstores--requires "distribution credits," which cost $99 each but can be bought at bulk discount pricing. There is a $59 maintenance fee for authors or publishers who cancel their Vook accounts but still want their e-books to remain on sale. Vook becomes the de-facto vendor for all publishers using their platform, though the word "Vook" does not appear anywhere in the e-book itself.

To promote the platform, Vook has formed a partnership with the Council for Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) to enable their member publishers to use the platform at discounted pricing ranging from $199 for three e-books (without distribution credits) to $1999 for a package that includes roughly 200 standard or 25 enhanced e-books.