Why you should NEVER use Streetlib.com - A Review/Warning

A supremely important choice (whether we realize it or not) is how and where to publish our books. Not all distributors are created equal, and the distributor you select will determine how easily you book is approved by the various outlets such as Amazon or Google Play, how well it will sell when it is listed there, and how often you’ll be paid. A good catalog, with a bad distributor, will sell badly. It’s a decision, just like your cover and formatting, that can make or break your title or catalog.

Streetlib is such a bad distributor, I feel they deserve their own article. Their behavior borders on the criminal, and is certainly as arrogant, annoying and blatantly corrupt as any company can get. To find the best distributors, see this article.

I will be telling my story of my time with Streetlib, and how they are still a problem well over a year after unpublishing my books on their platform. This is not just my story – writers forums and chatrooms are littered with similar experiences.  Streetlib tends to prey on those they see as unable to fight back, so as far as I can tell they have escaped any sort of litigation for their actions. The first person to do so will be mightily rewarded by a judge I’m sure, especially in New York. If you are reading this article because you have been ripped off by Streetlib, and you’re looking for others or for proof, feel free to send me a message and I will send you all the extensive documentation I have of my experience, and point you towards others who have experienced the same result.

Anyway, on to the story.

My first experience with streetlib was well over a year ago. Being younger and dumber, I thought all distributors were the same. I had noticed a few complaints about streetlib over the years, but Giac (who I assume is the owner or spokesperson) posted regularly in the forums I frequented, and always responded with a passionate defense of himself and his company. It was a weak trick but it worked on me, because I figured if there was any issues, hey, at least there’s a real person who will be able to help me.

I have a rather extensive catalog, which includes many short stories. When Amazon changed the KDP payouts to pay out based upon pages read, and not books read, KDP became worthless for short stories overnight, and I resolved to move them all to Streetlib. We’re talking around, at the time, 300 short stories, as I am a publisher not just an author.

Almost immediately, there were issues. The exact same books which were uploaded without issue to Amazon (a company extremely strict on their standards) were being rejected by Google Play, Kobo, and NookPress for a variety of technical (not listed on streetlib) and non-technical reasons. Streetlib is also very liberal at blocking titles, they have more restrictive standards than Amazon, Google Play and Ibooks so your book might not even reach them, and you’ll only find out on a manual check. Through enormous efforts I managed to get roughly half of them up over a couple of months, but there was more when it came time for first payout.

Being an American, who had searched google for distributors, I was operating under the assumption the vast majority of people have when clicking on a .com website that is written entirely in english, that said company is a US company.

Their website even proudly proclaimed to be “Streetlib New York.”

Their payout timing was really good – it said royalties were paid out within a month (so for example, the sales of Jan were paid out by the end of Feb), and international royalties were paid out 3 months later. As I was on a completely English, .com website that appeared to be in New York, I was confused when I didn’t get paid. It turns out they classify Amazon, Google Play, Ibooks, Kobo, NookPress – basically every conceivable book seller any English speaking person on planet earth would ever send their book too – as international titles, as they are headquartered in France. This struck me as incredibly misleading, and it took about a week of back and forth between us before I even knew their distinction, as they were rude and preferred to send me copied and pasted sections of their FAQ. By the way for anyone who is considering litigation, them using their US company as a shell company for their French company means the corporate veil could be pierced and you could also go after their French assets.

When trying to get answers, I was hit with what I can only describe as the most passive aggressive, condescending, and evil customer support I have ever experienced. They would move heaven and earth to avoid answering me, when simply answering the question would be 1000x less effort. Here is a verbatim copy of an average email chain we would send back and forth, where the support person would literally follow my online accounts (I never gave them to her) and tell me I got enough advice online, and never answer.

I am italics.

“I was underpaid for this month. I only received $81. It says I made much more than that. Please look into my account and sort out what the hell is going on. Don’t give me a cookie cutter answer or brush me off like you have in the past.”

“Hello

I know that Giacomo answered your question in the forum. If anything is not clear or you have questions, let us know please, we are here at your disposal.

Thank you very much,

Lucia Zitelli”

“He didn’t answer my question, check the graphs I posted on the forum if you’re following it. “

“Here I am as per your question (“I only received $81. It says I made much more than that.”), he did answer: Please, look at screenshot in attachment.

Let us know if anything is not clear. Thank you

Lucia Zitelli” (This is where she attached a screenshot of the forum post.)

 

“He didn’t answer my question, check the graphs I posted on the forum if you’re following it.”

 

“Hello

I know that Giacomo answered your question in the forum. If anything is not clear or you have questions, let us know please, we are here at your disposal.

Thank you very much,

Lucia Zitelli”

 

“My last reply is unanswered, if you can answer that satisfactorily that would be fantastic. Don’t attach a screenshot of a post I already replied to, it’s extremely insulting and you’re doing it on purpose. You saw I replied to his post already.”

 

After no reply

 

“So you can reply within 6 minutes to show me a screenshot of the post I already replied to but you can’t take a couple minutes to do the math and see what was claimed is mathematically impossible? “

 

Then she never replied until I emailed her again for a separate issue. You see what I mean, right? They are allergic to being helpful. I honestly thought, at this point, it was simple incompetence, but as time went on I realized it was an integral part of their companies mind state, which is simply to extract as much money from author’s as possible, “no matter what it takes.”

The next surprise was a few months later when the royalties finally came in. Again, I send an email, asking why I was underpaid. I knew how distributors worked, and had read their payment page very carefully. Why wasn’t I getting what I earned, minus their 10% cut? To my shock and surprise, Giac informed me (after a week or so of back and forth emailing, forum posts, etc) that Streetlib, unlike every other major distributor I have ever heard of, didn’t take 10% of MY revenue, they took 10% of total book revenue. What this means is, if you posted a book for $10, and Amazon pays you 70%, or $7, every time you have a sale, Streetlib takes 10% off the entire sale, including taking 10% of Amazon’s cut. What that means is, they don’t take 70c out of that $10 book, they take $1. This is contrary to every other distributor I know of, and common sense to boot. Some websites pay out a royalty as little as 30%, but they would still take 10% of your cut and the websites cut, leaving you paying 33.33% of your revenue to them.

Shortly after that, 136 of my books were marked as invalid due to a system update they did, and I only found out after logging in to see them all unpublished and my earnings low.

Shady, shady, shady. You’d think this is where I pull my books and go about my life, right?

Well, you are right – but like all bad groups, Streetlib had a way of not letting you leave.

Recently I was checking my emails, and I noticed two unusual emails, right next to each other. One was from Amazon, saying it had noticed unusual bot activity on my books, and that any detected manipulation would be removed from my KENCP sales. The other was an email from Streetlib (which I had not been using for over a year at this point) saying that their new system would display the books uploaded through their service in their portal, so people who use them can go click on the links to see their books uploaded on Amazon, etc

It displayed several hundreds of my books.

The only problem was – I had unpublished every book I had ever uploaded to them.

I quickly realized two horrifying truths. The first was, that on logging in, their bot crawler, or whatever they use to find their books on the various websites, had an “attempt log” which showed that they had accessed books with the same author and titles as the ones I uploaded to them automatically, some hundreds of times. One had 400 access attempts in two days – no wonder Amazon flagged my account for suspicious activity!

The second truth was even worse. I realized upon researching that all those books that I had “unpublished” from their platform, that were still, even as I checked right then, completely unpublished, with my sales over the past year showing 0 sales – those hundreds of books, were still uploaded through streetlib. It was just hidden from me when I logged in.

The books were still uploaded through streetlib without a single sale registered. Shocked, hurt, confused – I shot off an email to streetlib. I got a response that floored me.

YES! Streetlib admitted… Yes, we did have hundreds of your books for sale, for over a year, without paying you a single dime, and without showing you on your dashboard, and falsely displaying them all as unpublished. However, they said – and this is a beauty – HOWEVER! We did not pay you at all over the past year, because the hundreds of books of yours we kept selling, never made a single sale. The sales graph is accurate, you simply did not have a single sale over hundreds of titles, although we did leave them up. Never mind that those exact same titles before I “unpublished” them made like 4,000+ sales. Same distributor, same websites, but suddenly they didn’t make any sales over a year? Only an idiot would believe that – the truth is, they simply pocketed the royalties.

There are also many other people sharing similar experiences on various forums, but I don’t want to post their laundry publicly, as most of them are actually still on streetlib due to the big effort to move all their books to another distributor, and I would be opening them up to retaliation. I have personally seen at least a few posts about every issue posted here, including a couple about my last issue (keeping the books up, selling them, not paying authors) within the past week alone.

To recap: I have emailed them, and they have admitted in plain simple English to still having a few hundred of my books uploaded, despite my dashboard clearly saying unpublished on every book for over a year. They are claiming they had no sales, which is absolutely absurd. Their employees unpublished my books themselves after I emailed them (I had no option to, as my dashboard displayed “unpublished” for them all), and are saying they owe no royalties because I had no sales in over a year, despite the fact those same books had 4000+ sales in 7 months.

This is on the tail end of an enormous headache with them, so bad I went through the effort of removing every book from them before I even knew they were scammers, when I thought they were simply sleazy.

Readers should simply stop here, and visit Publishdrive, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords or any other legitimate distributor.

 

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