Mercy Pilkington

Mercy Pilkington



is a Senior Editor for Good e-Reader. She is also the CEO and founder of Author Options, a hybrid publishing and consultancy company. Have a question? Send an email to info@authoroptions.com


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A new survey of readers in New Zealand, as reported by Stuff.co.nz, demonstrates that readers still prefer print over digital or audiobooks when it comes to self-selected texts. Despite the growing ebook market and an increase in digital readership in a few key age demographics, print wins out for most and for all the usual reasons.

According to the article on the findings, “Those most in favour of e-books were predictably under 30 year olds who only preferred the printed book by a 28 per cent to 27 per cent margin.

“Those aged 45 to 49 were the most hostile age cohort for e-books with 42 per cent preferring the printed version and 18 per cent an e-reader.

“Consistent with the BBQ debates the major factor cited by those who preferred reading printed books was that they enjoyed the feel and smell. A secondary factor coming through was that there was less strain on the eyes. Lower level factors cited by printed book advocates were they didn’t run out of power, it was easier to skip back and forward, habit and print books filled bookshelves.”

It may seem unrelated to some industry watchers, but the fact that consumers still prefer and buy more print than digital actually speaks to the increased validity of data about how self-published authors are faring in the market. Given that indie authors as a group generally sell more of their ebooks than their print titles, and given that consumers purchase more print than digital, it would show that the greater piece of the publishing pie that indies now earn is on even greater sales. They sell fewer books and at cheaper prices, yet still earn more income than traditionally published authors.

This data is no more prevalent than in the Author Earnings reports, who recent study of Barnes and Noble data showed that self-published authors are earning even higher amounts of income than traditionally published authors.

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There are reports that Amazon has a Square reader-like device in the works, one that will plug into a smartphone or tablet (presumably not only the Fire phone or Kindle Fire) and allow small business people to take advantage of the reliance on credit cards that many consumers have. Just like other devices by Square and PayPal, this device–whenever it launches, although some sources say it will be advertised by Staples beginning August 12th–will help stand-alone entities who cannot afford the ongoing fees or contracts associated with most POS credit card machines. More importantly, devices such as these allow for portability, such as for sales at outdoor events, moveable festivals, and spur of the moment sales.

Even before Amazon’s attempt at joining this market, these portable devices are a must for indie authors.

Typically, self-published authors take on all the “leg work” associated with their writing careers. That means not only finding their own professionals to assist with the actual creation of the book, but it means the marketing and promotion as well. Authors often find themselves looking for opportunities like speaking engagements, book signings, and more. Whereas a bestselling book tour set up by a major publisher will handle the sales of titles at each stop along the tour, a self-published author typically has to arrange the signing, set up the space at the venue, sell the books, and then sign. Portable card readers from trusted companies make sales far more likely in the increasingly cash-less society.

Also, a number of authors–who’ve been thwarted by bookstores and libraries when they call to request permission for a book signing–find themselves selling their work at events that are not strictly bibliocentric. Outdoor festivals, themed events, and city holidays come to mind. In these cases, there may not even be wifi to work from, let alone a cash register in place. A portable reader feeding into a cellphone can mean the difference between potential readers simply browsing, as opposed to buying.

Finally, just as the age-old “elevator pitch” wisdom meant being prepared to tell an agent or publisher about a manuscript on the off-chance the author bumped into one, the current wisdom for independent authors to be ready to sell a book at any time. The elevator pitch still applies, but it’s now shifted to talking one-on-one to a potential reader. But having a few copies of the authors’ books handy for these instances means giving away their work–which still isn’t a bad thing–but there’s only so long an author can afford to give away her print material. A portable card reader will let the author offer the book to a potential reader and take the reader up on his offer of payment.

But why Amazon’s? If the reader devices themselves are so useful, should it matter?

Obviously, that remains to be seen. Pricing will be the first factor; Square, Intuit, and PayPal readers are free when users sign up at the website, and cost about $10 or so when purchased through a store like Target or OfficeMax. Reports are that the Amazon reader will cost about the same. And with percentage fees as low as 2.4% (Intuit) and 2.8% (Square), it will interesting to see if Amazon’s ingrained drive to be a better value than everyone else results in a lower fee.

Moreover, with the constant threat of credit card fraud and identity theft, consumers may feel some measure of security by handing their cards to someone with the Amazon logo at the top of the card reader. On the flipside, there’s the potential for a customer to refuse on the grounds that they’re in the anti-Amazon camp.

However it works out, authors would do well to make sure they’re able to accept payments in some electronic way in order to maximize on their own hard work.

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In a move that industry watchers are already calling a direct competition to Amazon’s purchase of book discovery platform Goodreads, TechCrunch has reported through an anonymous tip that Apple has bought Boise, Idaho-based BookLamp, creators of the Book Genome Project discovery site. The site, which pairs readers with books based on the “DNA” of books, meaning an in-depth analysis of the language in titles readers have read, offers suggestions for new reads based on what users have already enjoyed.

According to TechCrunch, things became a little cryptic in April of this year, at least on BookLamp’s end. Once the anonymous tipster let it be known that Apple had completed the purchase for between $10million and $15million, which includes all of the technology and the manpower within the company. Facebook (of all places) provided some more of the clues, as key team members from BookLamp still listed Boise as their places of residence but had multiple FB posts that were tagged from the Cupertino, California, location.

As to how this is going to help Apple take down Amazon, as some reports are already claiming, that remains to be seen. Amazon purchased Goodreads over a year ago, with some estimates on the cost ranging from between $150 million and over one billion dollars. While the move has been good for Amazon, for Goodreads, and even for readers, it doesn’t appear to have been a game changer within the bookselling industry, at least not in the way that these kinds of dollars reflect.

One thing that has come out, though, is a renewed focus on Apple’s part in terms of selling titles through its iBooks platform. With agreements already in place with publishers and even Smashwords, and with the iOS8 update coming this fall that is supposed to make book purchasing even more streamlined, incorporating a search feature for right-fit books makes a lot of sense.

Of course, as Apple explained to TechCrunch, the company has a long history of buying smaller tech companies and then not discussing the details. Apple could just as easily have plans for the BookLamp technology–say in the area of app discovery–that doesn’t have much to do with bookselling.

 

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Verdict: 5 Stars

This book was fun for the very reason that books are meant to be read: it provided an escape into a world of “wouldn’t it be great if I could, but I never will.”

In Freudberg’s title, main character Martin Muntor made it a goal early in life to excel, not in the psychotic driven way of a man who cannot fathom failure, but more in the way of a man who had early examples of how not to live, and rose to overcome them. He takes good care of himself, works hard at a good job, and basically enjoys life.

Until he is diagnosed with lung cancer thanks to secondhand smoke from a childhood surrounded by smokers, only to follow that up with a doomed marriage to a smoker.

Everyone wants to point fingers at lung cancer patients as though to ask, “What did you expect to happen?” But in Muntor’s case, he was neither a smoker nor able to escape from an environment filled with the toxic stuff. Given that the book is set in 1995 when smoking was more prevalent and the effects of secondhand smoke were downplayed, the man is a casual victim who refuses to go down without a fight.

Instead of a medical fight, though, Muntor becomes a man on a mission, hellbent on taking down the tobacco industry, serial killer-style.

Much in the same way that we can enjoy TV shows like Dexter for both the sick pleasure of watching the bad guys suffer and the “it’s never gonna happen but what if” plot, Freudberg’s story line is both a sick pleasure and a fun pseudo-warning to the corporate entities who hurt the population in the name of twisted greed. I’d love to see what the author comes up with in addressing Monsanto, but that’s for another book.

There were places where the writing dragged for me, but I am admittedly not a massive fan of the genre. I can appreciate good writing and a highly unique plot, though, both of which the author provided in abundance.

Find Virgil is available now.

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Scholastic, the award-winning powerhouse in children’s publishing, made a announcement today that their ebook reading app Storia would be closing, making way for a bigger focus on its Storia School Edition subscription reading program. In a cryptically worded graphic on their website, a lot of unanswered questions were alluded to, particularly that the ebooks parents have already purchased for their young readers as part of the platform “may soon no longer be available,” and that consumers “may be able to continue using your eBooks by making sure to open them on a bookshelf at least once by October 15.”

While that may leave consumers with even more head-scratching than understanding, a more confusing offer of a refund on all titles purchased is both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, parents who act by August 1st can have a refund on their ebooks, but if they don’t ask for a refund, their content might still work.

The industry has been very forgiving of Scholastic’s recent drops in revenue by acknowledging that the company simply can’t produce a Hunger Games trilogy every year. Just how significant was the series for Scholastic? Given that at one point all three books were in the top spots on various bestsellers lists and that the movie franchise is still in production, it’s easy to see what a monumental percentage of revenue it was. At the same time, Scholastic can’t continue to rest on its publishing laurels and excuse a drop in revenue due to not producing another blockbuster. A recent shareholder presentation outlined the areas where improvement has been steady, as well as sources of decrease.

All in all, it means that Scholastic is smart to fund its drive in a market where it’s possibly most well known with consumers, and that’s in education. As ebook subscription models continue to gain ground with consumers, keeping a student-centric model in motion through classrooms instead of only through private consumer subscriptions seems to be the smarter approach. With the recent announcement of Lee Peters as the new SVP of Strategic Marketing in the education division, there are already new directions underway for increasing the brand and putting Scholastic content where people expect it: in the classrooms.

UPDATE: The deadline for refunds is NOT this Friday, but rather August 1st of next year, and the family streaming service that was announced last April is still available. We apologize for any panic this may have caused.

Hugh Howey posed with Hugh Howey...or is it Data Guy?

Hugh Howey posed with Hugh Howey…or is it Data Guy?

Ludicrous accusations have come out from various corners of the publishing industry, some of which are rabidly anti-Amazon and anti-self-publishing, claiming that the information in the notorious Author Earnings reports is flawed at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. The reports, which claim to only be interested in helping all authors make sound decisions based on a clear look at ebook sales data, are updated quarterly with different facets of bookselling.

Some of these allegations state that the “data is beyond bad,” and even well-known figures in the industry have called into question the very existence of the so-called Data Guy who assembles the numbers. Phillip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, was quoted in an article for The Guardian as saying, “The fact that we don’t know who this ‘Data Guy’ is or where he’s come from suggest that we should take the Author Earnings report with a large pinch of salt.”

Hugh Howey, bestselling author and much of the driving force behind the Author Earnings report, spoke with Good e-Reader about some of the accusations that have been hurled at the reports and their creators.

“Amazon might be surprised at how much writers love having access to information,” Howey explained in the interview. “They have to be good businesspeople. We’re curious about what works, so the more we can provide information, the better.”

One key point Howey made in reference to Amazon’s new pricing tool, KDP Pricing Support, is this: “While Amazon’s been fighting with publishers to get ebook prices down, I also think that a lot of self-published authors aren’t pricing their books high enough. What Amazon wants is to sell as many books as possible, and that means finding the most efficient price between where traditionally published authors and self-published authors price their books.”

But how does this wealth of information translate into arming authors with data?

“In all the punditry, there’s a lot of analysis of the book industry and it’s all focused on gross dollars: how much are bookstores making, how much are publishers making? But if authors are making a very small cut of a lot of those numbers, how is it helping authors to know the percentage of those dollars that are in print? That’s why we chose [Author Earnings] for the name of our website, because we wanted to focus on, ‘How much are the artists getting paid?’”

The site itself has had more than 100,000 unique visitors just in the six months the site has been in operation, which is fairly astounding considering the parties involved haven’t incorporated any promotional tactics other than basic social media sharing of the reports. It demonstrates a clear desire on the part of involved individuals to know more and to see clear data.

That data has been called into question, though, often by sources who see it as faulty but haven’t really explained why other than the argument that Author Earnings’ reports are free to the public and some companies charge for their data, causing some critics to wonder how thorough and accurate this information can be. Howey’s explanation of the information almost seems too simple, even to him, but it involves a tremendous amount of number crunching of the available data.

“If you believe that Amazon ranks books according to how well they’re selling, then there’s no flaw you could find with what we’re doing. We’re doing what you could do with a pencil and a web browser. Anybody could go through all these web pages for all the books  and write down on a spreadsheet what the list price is, who published the book, and what its overall Amazon ranking is. With that information, you could figure out, okay, if a third of these books are self-published and only forty percent are traditionally published, and you do that for 120,000 books, that’s incredible. And we know that self-published authors are making seventy percent and traditionally published authors are making seventeen and a half percent, so even though the price for self-published books is lower it’s more than made up for by the royalty. The reason you haven’t seen anyone tear the methodology apart is because there’s nothing to it. It’s as simple as counting books on the bestsellers’ lists.”

Howey mentioned that the launch of Kindle Unlimited could have an impact on future reports, since there may be a need to correct for the fact that KU borrows are counted in the bestseller rankings. Given the fact that the book has to reach ten percent consumption on the part of the reader to even count as a “sale” or “borrow” for royalty purposes, it would be logical to think that a KU borrow would serve much the same purpose as a typical book sale for ranking purposes.

While Howey was not willing to “out” Data Guy or state the person or persons’ identity, he did assure outright the veracity of Data Guy’s status as a human being, and not some generic algorithm that spits out questionable information.

“What’s been funny is that we use the singular masculine pronoun because that’s what one blogger called my partner. It’s funny because it could be three other people working on this, it could be a company that I’m hiring, it could be a woman. My mom was a math teacher. The bias about who’s good at spreadsheets is funny.

“I’ve provided the data to download. Everyone wants to know what’s going on with Amazon, and our last data report was 120,000 titles. Every ranked book on Amazon has all the information right there if you want to go through and do some additional crunching on it. You can’t crunch it and come up with any other result than self-published authors are taking this huge chunk of income from writers’ market share. You can play with the variables all you want and it does not change the outcome.”

Despite rumors that circulated–and even a few sarcastic remarks–Howey would not name Data Guy specifically due to the fact that authors are prohibited by terms of service from openly sharing their sales figures. He and the other parties involved in creating Author Earnings stood a very real chance of violating those terms, and as Howey himself stated, he worried about pressing publish on the website and finding all of his books removed from Amazon the very next day.

“I’m not going to out the person unless they want to be outed.”

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With a fairly significant US election looming on the horizon, candidates are already working the public for both electoral and financial support. And with the support of the Federal Election Commission, a whole new form of political contributions is heading their way.

The state of New Hampshire, long considered one of the key states in the national election process, happens to also have more Bitcoin transactions than any other state per capita; given that fact, New Hampshire politicians will be accepting campaign contributions in this so-called “cryptocurrency,” the form of digital currency who most noteworthy example may be Bitcoin. Ensuring the seamless nature of making this type of contribution with e-currency is PayStand, who spoke with Good e-Reader about the viability of this measure.

“It’s important for government leaders to listen to their constituency,” states Andrew Hemingway, a New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate, in a press release. “New Hampshire is known as the Live Free or Die State and we have always been very strong in our independent ideals. The state has spoken – they want the opportunity to use innovative and convenient payment alternatives. I am happy to accept Bitcoin as political donations and want to make it as simple a process as possible for my supporters to do that. Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is the wave of the future and I want to do everything I can to allow people to use it – including for political donations of all sorts.”

Bitcoin may very well be a misunderstood object of fear, the stuff of science fiction, to those who were already leery of it. The US government’s seizure of more than 150,000 Bitcoins, nearly 30,000 of which have already been auctioned off for around $17 million, didn’t do anything to endear the currency to its critics. The fact that it was seized during the arrest and shutdown of the internet’s biggest black market site all but sealed its fate for some consumers.

Which could very well be why Bitcoin campaign contributions could change that. Where many people think of political contributions as the realm of corporate fat cats’ efforts to buy politicians, Bitcoin and PayStand could actually level the playing field to some extent, by offering a seamless and simple process for everyday citizens to support the candidates they care about more feasible.

“Bitcoin is absolutely moving quickly into all facets of our lives. This election cycle is really the first where Bitcoin is talked about and used for donations, now that the FEC has approved it. And with more and more businesses – and even now the State of California – accepting Bitcoin as a form of currency, it is becoming essential to include cryptocurrencies as a payment option,” said Jeremy Almond, CEO, PayStand. “From day one PayStand has included Bitcoin among all other forms of payment and we are thrilled to be on the leading edge in the political donation process in New Hampshire and throughout the country.”

Other major players in the online transaction sphere, including eBay and PayPal, are working on process to accept Bitcoin payments in a wide variety of denominations.

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In the latest twist in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, Amazon has proven once again that it has the best PR team in corporate history. Following an open letter from authors involved in the current issue which stated that their livelihoods were being impacted by Amazon’s refusal to concede to Hachette’s terms, Amazon offered to give the authors 100% of the price of their sales until the matter is resolved. This offer would have meant that neither Amazon nor Hachette would receive any of the sales price on these authors’ titles, a move which Amazon claimed was meant to spur the parties into reaching an agreement while still ensuring that the authors were not harmed by the negotiations.

Interestingly, despite insisting publicly that Amazon’s ongoing inability to accept the new publisher terms is hurting its authors, Hachette turned down Amazon’s suggestion and dismissed it as simply a ploy. Other entities like the Authors Guild followed suit, quickly spurning Amazon’s offer.

Now, Amazon has offered to take its percentage and Hachette’s percentage and offer those to literacy charities, while still giving the authors their royalty. While the intention is still to ensure that authors are not affected by the drama, the retailer feels like this will force the two parties involved to come to terms that both can agree on.

According to an article in The Bookseller, author Douglas Preston informed Publisher’s Weekly about the offer from Amazon, but said that it has already been rejected by Authors United, the group which penned the open letter and has promised a forthcoming letter to be published as a full-page ad in the New York Times. What is truly interesting is the coverage that this announcement has received, including headlines like this one, and the noticeable reduction in anti-Amazon sentiment in the comments sections of these posts.

Oyster
eBook subscriptions services are making headlines right now, especially following the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. In some ways, correlations can be made that two other pioneering subscription services–Scribd and Oyster–could have paved the way for KU, despite the various differences in their platforms. While other ebook subscription startups have been around for years, Oyster and Scribd have made the most headway with not only enticing readers into the benefits of their programs, but also in working with some publishers to put their titles in the catalogs with the most viable compensation models so far.

Oyster announced today that it is now including web-based reading in its platform, meaning users no longer have to rely on the mobile app for content. While the Android and iOS apps are still fully operative, Oyster added a new layer of accessibility to the platform in a throwback move to browser-based reading.

“Knowing that about a third of ebook readers regularly read on the web, we’ve had our sights set on this launch for some time,” said Eric Stromberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Oyster. “This marks an important next step on our mission to provide the best product on as many devices as possible.”

Billed as the Netflix of reading, ebook subscriptions have kept a similar pricepoint–Oyster’s is $9.95 a month for both the app-based and web-based option to read unlimited numbers of ebooks–while trying to offer compelling content. Oyster has had a measure of success in signing two of the largest publishers in the world to provide some of their content to the growing catalog, and has agreements with more than 1,600 publishers overall.

Oyster’s CEO had some welcoming remarks for the introduction of Amazon’s service into the ebook subscription sphere, seeing the launch of KU as yet another sign that reading consumers are responding to this model.

“We’re not surprised. [Amazon has] pivoted from transactional to subscription-based in other media, and had limited success. They really paved the way in ebooks, and it’s exciting to see them embrace the market we created as the future of books.”

New members can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Oyster by clicking HERE.

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Any author, traditionally published or indie, can tell you that one of the hardest parts of the business side of being an author is finding genuine promotion opportunities that give authors a real sense of reader engagement. Apart from the flood of social media requests from authors asking consumers to purchase their books, far too many authors don’t have another step in mind for creating active dialogue about their works.

That’s where sites like Bublish come in, bringing with them the opportunities for authors and readers to connect over like content and common interests in reading material. But more than just a place for discussion to happen, Bublish is also building author tools, like the ability to build an email list for targeted announcements and the chance to offer pre-orders.

Bublish, who’s known for its targeted social interaction in which authors and readers connect through book “bubbles,” recently announced it had secured a $300,000 investment in its latest round of private funding, which will allow the company to expand its current features while exploring new capabilities that put control in the authors’ hands. According to the company, this funding round will be earmarked for projects that include “developing a suite of powerful creation and book promotion tools for publishers, additional social media integrations and book distribution services, expanding marketing capabilities and reach, and increasing business development partnerships with key publishers and industry influencers.”

“This investment is a huge endorsement of the Bublish platform,” said Kathy Meis, Bublish
Founder and President. “Our capabilities consistently expand as our user base of authors and
readers continues to grow exponentially.”

Bublish has operated under its concept of “authorpreneurship,” meaning their focus is to empower authors with the equipment to not only be writers, but to be businessmen in charge of their own products as well.

liber_io
Whenever a new tool comes along that makes it even easier for indie authors to share their content with a broader audience, it’s exciting. So after seeing a post by TechCrunch on a new ebook creation platform that doesn’t cost the user any money, uploads seamlessly from his Google Drive account, and can be tailored right there on the screen in front of him, I had to try it out.

Unfortunately, the reality was a little less exciting.

Heading over to liber.io only a little while ago, the very first issue was that Mozilla freaked out about letting me use the site. Two different warning screens came up telling me that Mozilla couldn’t verify the security of the site, and even after telling Mozilla, “It’s okay, I got this,” it was slow and iffy-looking. I logged in with my Google+ account and established a new password, and I appreciated the fact that Liberio pointed out this new password would in no way affect my Google+ password.

After giving Liberio permission to access my contacts list, my email, my DNA sample, and my second grade report card, I was in. Unfortunately, clicking on the only thing that looked like an “Add new file” option didn’t do anything for the first five minutes or so. I finally refreshed the screen twice and it came to life.

The interface is very intuitive, I must say, but it’s not very functional. By clicking on the very large icon that resembles a piece of paper with a plus sign in it, I was finally given a box that let me choose a file from my Google Drive account or directly uploads from my computer. I chose the upload option, selected a manuscript I’ve been playing around with, and waited.

Then complete code filled the box on the screen. Instead of seeing my ebook, absolute gibberish took over. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a trash folder, I can’t see any way to remove the file I uploaded. I right-clicked, I dragged, I sacrificed a small woodland creature…nothing. As an author who now has an unpublished manuscript floating around the internet with no discernible way to remove it, I’m more than a little put out right now.

Now some of you may be chuckling to yourselves and shaking your head at my own ebook incompetence, and I welcome your laughter. It’s quite obvious that either Liberio or I didn’t do something right. Given that Liberio just moved out of private beta per TechCrunch’s announcement, there are kinks that are possibly still being worked out, but if my own misunderstanding of the system was at fault, then I have to say it’s not as intuitive as I thought.

My final assessment is that it will be a powerful tool when it works correctly, and anything that gives authors even better tools is fantastic. I also see tremendous potential for the educational arena, both higher ed and the K12 sectors, as teachers could easily create ebooks of content for their students. And with more and more schools instituting Bring Your Own Device initiatives, ereading is gaining a lot of traction in public schools, meaning teachers can incorporate a lot of original content in the process. Overall, when it works perfectly, this could be something of a game changer.

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As Hachette, Amazon, and the laundry list of household name authors who make up the faux-power group Authors United continue to battle and make headlines over the contract dispute, there’s another major player who’s caught in the crossfire of the whole mess: the readers.

While critics and supporters on both sides argue over the costs of doing business, the power of capitalism, even the poor contract terms that many traditionally published authors face, the sad fact is that the readers are being left out of much of the discussion. How the contract agreement–whenever it may come about–affects book pricing will directly impact consumers and their ability to continue to purchase books.

Unfortunately, Authors United, the group of authors who penned an open letter to Amazon asking the retailer to resolve the issue and agree to terms, has now threatened to call on its readers to help stand their ground, despite Amazon’s offer to give Hachette’s authors 100% of the sale price of their books until the matter is concluded. AU has now written a second letter stating that it will write another letter…then post that letter in a full-page ad in the New York Times.

Through author Douglas Preston, AU has made the following bold statement: “We have many loyal and committed readers. They listen when we speak. That represents power; perhaps even enough power to face down one of the world’s largest corporations.”

The level of arrogance required to state that AU can use its own reader fans in its fight to increase the price of books for those very fans is astounding, as this is one of the biggest shows of us-versus-them in publishing to be made public in quite some time. Hopefully these authors will quickly come to understand that if it weren’t for Amazon, many of those readers couldn’t even afford to be their fans.

KDP Pricing
New information and knowledge have come to light thanks to the efforts of a core group of individuals; author Hugh Howey and his mathematical number cruncher Data Guy have released exhaustive information through the Author Earnings reports designed to help authors make informed decisions concerning their publishing.

Rather than fight the Author Earnings efforts and information with their collective heads in the sand, Amazon seems to be reading and incorporating the information into tools for their authors. In the public beta of a new feature, KDP Pricing Support, Amazon has opened a new toolbox for authors to better understand their book pricing and the impact is has on their overall sales.

Amazon’s new tool gives authors who wish to use the free service a snapshot of where similar books are performing and at which price points, thereby recommending a price for their titles. Authors are then given the option to one-click to institute that price for their books. It’s interesting to note that when a Good e-Reader staffer tested the new service, it was discovered that some of the author’s titles were priced as much as seven dollars US lower than the typical book performing at peak sales for that category; other titles were already priced at the recommended $2.99. None of the authors’ books were priced higher than the service’s recommendation, a characteristic that is common among self-published authors who tend to underprice their content.

The tool is available for all KDP authors to try out by clicking on the button in the “Rights and Pricing” section of their dashboards, and Amazon has stated that the beta period is open to all users in an attempt to help them uncover which features authors rely on. Books that are not enrolled in Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program are still eligible for the service, and more information can be found HERE.

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