Archive for E-Book News
The world of Harry Potter is very real to some people, so real in fact that there are live Quidditch matches and yes, college teams. Even better, these college and fan teams actually have a Quidditch World Cup competition, taking place in Florida. the fact that none of the players has a flying broom is not a deterrent.
This year, for the seventh World Cup, author and inventor of flying Quidditch JK Rowling reported on the match, commentating as Ginny Weasley, long time fan of the sport. Her reports can be found posted on the Pottermore website. Of course, these would be news reports, under the sports section, so fans must go to the Daily Prophet office on Diagon Alley in order to find the updates.
According to a press release from the team at Pottermore, “To deliver the reports, Pottermore has opened a brand new location on Pottermore.com – the offices in Diagon Alley of the fictional wizarding newspaper the Daily Prophet, which fans can visit for the first time and discover this exclusive new writing from J.K. Rowling.
“The posts begin with a report on the opening ceremony of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. With characteristic humour, Rowling describes how the international teams’ mascots, magical creatures from the world of Harry Potter, took part in the ceremony and caused havoc for their handlers.
We find out why more than 300 crowd members are suffering from shock, broken bones and bites following the ceremony, and why failure to bring their usual mascots, a troupe of performing trolls, caused a great deal of trouble for the Norwegian delegation. A ‘live’ match report details the thrilling action between Norway and Ivory Coast in the first match of the tournament.”
This is not the first time Rowling has written more information about the wizard game, as two pieces of writing on the game were posted earlier this year. The live version may be more exciting to fans than the wizard rendition, as it has been featured in popular films like The Internship and the Disney Channel show “Jessie.”
A revolution in writing and publishing conferences will kick off tomorrow in Charleston, South Carolina, one that is working to bridge all aspects of the publishing industries to better enable professionals of every kind. Alongside self-publishing mainstays like Hugh Howey, Nook Press, and Bibliocrunch will be speakers like Stephanie Bowen of Sourcebooks and Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. Algonquin Books Executive Editor Chuck Adams will speak, as well as Penguin Random House’s Executive Editor Tracey Bernstein. Also on hand to present will be Amanda Barbara, founder of Pubslush, a crowdfunding platform for self-published authors.
The fairly evenly split representatives from both aspects of the industry demonstrates one of the factors that makes this conference unique. Unless there will be a stripe painted down the middle of the conference, relegating the traditional industry to one side and the self-publishing industry to the other, the intention of the event is to empower anyone who has any involvement at all in the world of books to better understand the nature of the industry in its current climate.
Tonight, Bibliocrunch‘s weekly Twitter chat, #IndieChat, will feature PubSmartCon speaker and industry expert Porter Anderson, as well as PubSmartcon’s Kathy Meis. The event begins at 9pm ET under the indie chat hashtag.
Good e-Reader will be covering the event, with an eye especially on understanding how events like this are bridging the gap. The traditional industry, while maybe not yet embracing indie publishing, has certainly come a long way from the days in which a vanity press-produced title was the kiss of death for an author’s future publishing career; it’s now becoming more and more common for publishers to seek out authors whose titles that have a proven following thanks to self-publishing. At the same time, the attitudes the once permeated the self-publishing industry, namely complete and unwavering artistic control and a feeling of isolation, are falling away as authors look to the traditional industry professionals for information and guidance.
A complete list of conference speakers and events can be found HERE.
Amazon customers in Sweden will have to wait it out to begin buying their discounted goods and books from Amazon.se. The current owner of the domain, a fifty-seven-year-old small businesswoman, won’t sell it, despite reports of repeated attempts from the retail giant to purchase it.
The domain, purchased in 1997 by a Stockholm-based advertising agency called Amazon AB, doesn’t actually lead to a website, but rather to a landing page that simply states it is under construction. This has caused many critics to accuse the woman of holding the domain hostage, as so-called domain squatters have done in the past; these people–whether thugs who drive up the price or smart business people who capitalize on their foresight by purchasing domains before anyone needs them–typically sell to the business or person who wants that domain for a nice profit.
What many vocal opponents who are crying “selfish” have forgotten is that it’s not uncommon for businesses to buy the various domains associated with their company names in order to protect their brands and prevent confusion for their customers. It’s highly likely that the ad agency’s clients would accidentally find themselves on the local Amazon retail portal instead of the agency should the sale of the domain go through.
Amazon has already been at work making headway into the region. The retailer recently inked a deal with a Scandinavian book distributor, Bokrondellen, to begin selling Swedish books through its other country-based domains. At this time, Swedish book customers can register through one of the other domains for book purchasing, despite Amazon’s attempts to initiate a Swedish domain.
Kindle Direct Publishing is a self-publishing platform that individuals and small presses use to add their eBooks for sale on the Amazon bookstore. When customers purchase an authors books, normally they did not know about it until 24 hours later. Today in a bold move, Amazon has introduced live sales data that will inform authors in real time when their book is purchased.
Self-published authors can celebrate as Amazon introduced a brand new Sales Dashboard on the KDP Reports page to give you up-to-date reporting of paid, borrowed and free orders as they are placed in Kindle stores worldwide. The new dashboard also helps you track royalties earned as payments are processed for these orders.
You can filter the Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report by title, marketplace, and timeframe. The information you currently receive in the Prior Six Weeks’ Royalties reports is now available in the new Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report.
One of the great elements about the new dashboard is the immediate feedback for authors engaged in a marketing campaign. You will be able to track sales for just that book for a set number of days while you’re running the campaign, and decide if it was worth the effort or not.
Renewed concerns about students who use tablets for reading have surfaced as experts now fear the “bells and whistles” approach to enhanced ebooks are actually stunting student comprehension. At last week’s American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia, researchers Heather Ruetschlin Schugar and Jordan T. Schugar presented their findings from a study that pitted middle school students with print and digital books. The results of the subsequent testing showed a higher level of comprehension when the students read print books.
The books, created with iBooks author software, may have contained too many features like hyperlinks, images, and embedded video, leading the students to try to garner enough information about the story from the extras rather than interacting with the actual text. Other features often found in children’s ebooks include games, tactile interactions like the ability to manipulate the background, and even audio sounds that play while the student reads.
Other researchers have already concluded that some students actually comprehend better when multimedia enhancements are offered alongside the text. A study reported on last week from Booktrack demonstrated that adults and older students retain more of what they read when music that fits the story plays in the background. Also, sound effects that coincide with troublesome or unfamiliar vocabulary can help language learners, such as a car horn beeping as the new word “honked” is introduced.
What researchers are now starting to notice is that there is no one-size-fits-all method for reading fluency and comprehension. Students learn in different ways, a fact that has been known among educators for decades. Features that enhance learning for one student can easily hinder it for another, so curricular decisions and opportunities need to be made available in a wide variety of formats.
It feels like every new step in the right direction also leads to a host of new problems and closures for public libraries where digital lending is concerned. It’s been years since the first debates over protecting the interests of authors and publishers, with solutions–albeit often pathetic ones–proposed so long ago that the system should have sorted itself out by now. With recent pilot programs to test the waters in the UK that still require patrons to physically enter their libraries in order to check out new releases as ebooks, and the reports that ebook prices for libraries are still inflated by hundreds of percents, it’s easy to feel like libraries are coming under attack. This time, though, it’s not apathetic city councils and budget cuts, it’s the publishers themselves.
Bills in Maryland and Connecticut were first proposed last year that would require publishers to charge a commensurate amount for libraries’ ebook editions of their catalogs of titles. As it stands now, pricing is making it almost impossible for libraries to fully support ebook lending. A recent report on pricing from the Douglas County (CO) Library System demonstrated that an ebook that typically costs a consumer just over $10 can cost a library almost $50. Add to that the fact that the library is merely licensing the right to use the digital file and not actually owning the book, the pricing can make libraries hesitate a little.
Unfortunately, those bills have not gone forward, and by some reports, the American Library Association was against the bill in Maryland.
Part of the struggle that libraries face also comes from their patrons. In the digital mindsets of many consumers, waiting to borrow an ebook seems pointless. The same people who happily put their names on the checkout list to borrow a print book grumble at having to wait to download a book to their devices. Fortunately, studies have shown that this benefits publishers, as ebook borrowing (and the ability to borrow ebooks, even without having finished or read them) has led to an increase in click throughs and purchases of other books. Ideally, this is not behind publishers’ decisions to keep the price of ebooks artificially inflated for libraries.
Verdict: 5 Stars
Seth MacFarlane is a true Renaissance man. As the creator of the animated series Family Guy and co-creator of American Dad, not to mention the voice talent of many of those shows’ characters, he achieved a measure of notoriety for the genre of stupid and mildly offensive humor. But MacFarlane is also a Grammy-nominated singer, director and producer of one of the top-grossing movies of all time for its rating, and of course, bestselling author of a first novel that has already been adapted for the upcoming film of the same name.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is not for everyone. As a very loose rendition of historical fiction, it requires an ability to enjoy the suspension of belief in order to appreciate the humor, as well as an ability to look past the few offensive remarks to that are both poignant stabs at the time period as well as timely interpretations of the fact that prejudice and racism are far from dead.
Albert Stark is a sheep farmer in the town of Old Stump, a miserable place that makes the show Deadwood look like the Vegas strip. The title of the book comes from the very real understanding in Albert’s world that every single day is an exercise in not letting something random kill him. Snake bites, cholera water, gunslingers, wild animal attacks, and all out nastiness are just a handful of the myriad ways that one could end up dead in that time and place; of course, if the actual disease, crime, or accident doesn’t kill you, the doctor’s attempts to save you will certainly finish the job.
Interestingly, MacFarlane’s take on history and humor is actually a beautiful love story, with the lives of several intertwined characters playing out on the page. He gives the same attention to the backstories of side characters that he gives to Stark, all without dragging down the pacing in any way. My favorites must be Edward and Ruth, a mild-mannered cobbler and his fiancee of six years (the town brothel’s employee of the year) who have yet to have relations because it would be ungodly, what with them being Christians and all.
In some ways, the best aspect of the book is the fact that the author’s ingrained sense of humor shines through, but it is ultimately far more intelligent than what plays out each week on his television shows. While somehow meeting at the crossroads of asinine and genius, the book is a fantastic, in-one-sitting delight.
When ebooks first began their accelerating trend, they were a decidedly English-based reading habit. Other markets began the adoption, but it was largely US and UK readers who became the early adopters. While most publishers weren’t eager to invest in something that had remained so unknown and unproven, they certainly weren’t associating the staggering costs involved in translation and international rights with digital publishing.
But the foreign-language category of ebooks is making tremendous headway. Readers have been delighted by both companies that make foreign translations of English language books available, as well as companies like Le French Book that operate in reverse, taking modern-day bestselling French titles and making them available in English to US and UK audiences via ebook.
But recent growth in the foreign language ebook catalogs of many major retailers has demonstrated an increased interest on the part of consumers who want the portability, instant download access, and typically lower cost of digital editions. Where the Amazon Kindle en Espanol catalog launched in 2012 with a minor smattering of titles compared to its offering in English, that number of ebooks has now doubled. Publishers are also coming on board with Spanish ebooks, working to release their backlist titles that never saw translation.
One area that still remains a problem for translated ebooks is indie publishing, encompassing both small press publishers and self-published authors. A translation of a full-length novel can easily run as much as $10,000 or more, per language, and without the backing of a major publishing house to foot the bill, it falls to the indie publisher or the author to find a translator and negotiate the fee. Authors like Judith Glynn who took the risk on an investment of that size are still struggling to put their books in front of Spanish-speaking readers, largely because less than half of the reported Spanish speaking population in the US reads books in Spanish, according to a post by Publisher’s Weekly.
A recent program for UK libraries to lend ebooks has been considered not only a success for institutions and patrons, but also for publishers given the number of click through sales that resulted from borrows. The report, given at a panel at the London Book Fair this week, was from the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) president Janene Cox.
The program, launched on March 3rd, 2014, in four areas of the country, gave visitors to the physical libraries access to content that wasn’t available elsewhere, including new releases. While visitors still had to come into their libraries to access the list of titles, they were gaining this access to content that wasn’t readily available for device lending elsewhere.
The results of the pilot have already been enlightening and positive, and interestingly have also been in line with patron behavior in various pilots and studies conducted by different companies in different countries. Sourcebooks and OverDrive teamed up last year to study the effects of unlimited checkouts and free simultaneous access to one title in particular, coupled with publisher branding of the book. Several years ago, Kobo released the results from its online marketplace that looked at user behavior when ebooks were available for free or at nearly no cost, which is the correlating cost for library patrons.
In almost every aspect, these studies have shown that publishers benefit when their books are readily available for borrowing. The click through rate in library lending is fairly high, with many of the patrons purchasing titles before even finishing the book. As in the Sourcebooks experiment, sales of that author’s other titles–not related in a series to the title that was made available–also increased, as did his social media following as readers sought him out online.
eBook lending has been a struggle for the industry, with different publishers experimenting with different lending parameters and limitations in an effort to protect the interests of their companies and their authors. Libraries have now been shown to be a source of revenue for publishers, not a source of contention.
You would be very hard pressed to go a single week without hearing about digital books. Companies are absorbing other companies, new startups launch a compelling discovery site or even get involved in a eBook subscription service. For the first eight months of 2013, eBook sale were worth $800 million in the US, down 5% on the same period the previous year, according to the Association of American Publishers. The founder of Waterstones Books in the UK says that eBooks are just a flash in the pan and will fizzle out in short order.
During a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, Tim Waterstone proclaimed “eBooks have developed a share of the market, of course they have,” he said. “But every indication – certainly from America – shows the share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK.” He went on mention “I think you read and hear more garbage about the strength of the eBook revolution than anything else I’ve known,”
Waterstone added that predictions of the demise of books were grossly exaggerated, saying: “The product is so strong, the interest in reading is so deeply rooted in the culture and human soul of this country that it is immovable. The traditional, physical book is hanging on. I’m absolutely sure we will be here in 40 years’ time.”
In the UK, 3.3 million e-books were sold in April 2013, according to Nielsen research – down 0.1% on the same month the previous year. Meanwhile, hardback book sales rose 11.5%. in the first eight months of 2013.