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The Dutch eBook market has seen excellent growth in the last two years and recent Q2 financial figures from the publishing industry has seen it increase by 18%. We now see eBooks accounting for 26% of all sales, but print books are still strong with 74%.

The Netherlands has a different dichotomy than North America in regards to the way encryption is handled. Only 1 eBook in 50 has the standard DRM, with the vast majority relying on digital watermarks. In North America, the trends are basically reversed with publishers exclusively relying on DRM to safegurd against piracy.

Ditch publishers are certainly seeing eBooks as being viable, despite the fact they only account for 4.7% of book sales. In the first half of 2013, the Dutch eBook market had three million titles digitized and at the midpoint of 2014 there are over five million.

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humble bundle

HarperCollins has been one of the most forward thinking publishers of 2014. They have not only supported Vancouver startup BitLit, which gives you a discounted eBook if you prove you own the print edition, but also Bookshout. Today, HarperCollins has announced a massive new campaign that is running in conjunction with Humble Bundle.

The essence of the Humble Bundle campaign with Harpercollins is that customers can pay what they want for a collection of digital literary works from bestselling authors, like Neil Gaiman and James Rollins, while helping support the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund, a non-profit organization for authors of science fiction and related genres, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community.

Humble Bundle allows for multiple tiers of donations, normally you can get a number of great titles for any amount you want to pay and gives incentives, where if a donation threshold is met, readers get additional titles.

Pay whatever you want and get the following eBooks;

– The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
– Twinmaker by Sean Williams
– Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich
– American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and
– Map of Bones by James Rollins with an excerpt of The Sixth Extinction

Customers who pay more than the average price will also receive:

– Angel’s Ink by Jocelynn Drake
– The Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole
– By the Blood of Heroes by Joseph Nassise, and
– The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

Customers who pay $10 or more will receive all of the above, as well as:
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison and Trouble on Reserve by Kim Harrison, a Humble Bundle exclusive novella.

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kindle reading on the underground

A new European study has found that Kindle owners have a harder time recalling key plot points than paperback readers.

The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month gave 50 readers the same short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half read the 28-page story on a Kindle, and half in a paperback, with readers then tested on aspects of the story including objects, characters and settings.

Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study said “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure.” The readers struggled to make sense of the key 14 plot aspects. The researchers suggest that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does”.

“When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right,” said Mangen. “You have the tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual … [The differences for Kindle readers] might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story, is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading. Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.”

“We need to provide research and evidence-based knowledge to publishers on what kind of devices (iPad, Kindle, print) should be used for what kind of content; what kinds of texts are likely to be less hampered by being read digitally, and which might require the support of paper,” said Mangen. “I’m thinking it might make a difference if a novel is a page-turner or light read, when you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to every word, compared to a 500-page, more complex literary novel, something like Ulysses, which is challenging reading that really requires sustained focus. That will be very interesting to explore.”

This report makes a lot of sense when it comes to the mental processing of reading digitally vs reading the print edition. You get a sense of accomplishment when you are making significant headway in the paperback, you can see the tangible progress.

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The seminal J.K. Rowling Pottermore website is more than just an eBook store to sell the entire series of Harry Potter eBooks, but also acts as an interactive game and a wellspring of original content. Today, a new 500-word entry about Celestina, who is sometimes known as the “singing sorceress,” provides never-before-known facts about this obscure character whom readers never “meet” in the Harry Potter series although she is mentioned several times and is Molly Weasley’s favourite singer.

Pottermore.com also posted today the audio track of one of Celestina’s songs, “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.” The song is a recording by Universal Orlando Resort featuring Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees who perform live every day at the brand-new, spectacularly themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart” is the first song ever posted on pottermore.com.

The new writing by J.K. Rowling offers colourful new details about Celestina’s early years, career highlights and tumultuous personal life. Rowling calls Celestina “one of my favourite ‘off-stage’ characters in the whole series”. Rowling also reveals that she “stole” Celestina’s first name from a colleague at Amnesty International’s Headquarters in London where she once worked. The story has been posted today because August 18 is Celestina’s birthday, a fact which is revealed for the first time in this new writing. Both the audio track and the new writing can be found in the ‘Floo Powder’ Moment in Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on pottermore.com (new users will need to register).

Celestina is referenced in three of the Harry Potter books. The first mention is in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) when Harry hears her name on the Wizarding Wireless Network (wizard radio) while visiting the Weasley home. She’s referenced again in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) when she appears on a wizarding radio Christmas broadcast and once more in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). In the charity companion book by J.K. Rowling, “Quidditch Through the Ages”, Celestina is credited with recording Puddlemere United’s team anthem “Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here” – another of the four songs featured in the singing sorceress’s live show at Universal Orlando Resort.

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Unlimited

Amazon Kindle Unlimited is a new program that for a small monthly fee allows you to read 10 eBooks at a time. No major publisher has bought into the Amazon initiative, which insures that there is a tremendous lack of mainstream or bestsellers. Instead, the Seattle company relies on its own cadre of indie authors to populate the ecosystem with their titles from Kindle Direct Publishing. What has prevented Unlimited from really taking off and being embraced by readers? The lack of quality titles produced by indie authors.

In order for an indie author to be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, they must opt into the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. This allows their titles to be showcased in the Kindle Lending Library and made available for people to read for free. It also provides many advanced tools, such as free promotional pricing. KDP Select authors are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited and this is how it works. If someone reads their eBook past the 10% mark, the author will get paid on average about a dollar. The money is paid from a revolving pool of revenue that Amazon has on a monthly basis.

Amazon relies on exclusivity for their authors to be opted into the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited. This prevents authors from only promoting their works on Amazon and not on Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press or Smashwords.

The bulk number of titles on Unlimited are all produced by indie authors. There are 600,000 eBooks and audiobooks that have been opted into the program. Where do the rest of the books come from? Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road, Scholastic and Workman.

Some authors such as Hugh Howey were automatically opted into Unlimited, but did not have the same exclusivity as your run of the mill first time author. Howey and others had a limited amount of time they could distribute their titles throughout other retailers but at some point in time, they have to decide whether to fully embrace Unlimited on a title by title basis.

Most of the indie authors that actually make a decent living off of their works often have a head for the business. They are active on Twitter and other social media networks promoting their personal brands. They focus on multiple distribution platforms because it basically takes on average, two years to develop a core readership base. These authors do well because they do not rely on a singular source of revenue, but glean it from Apple, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, Scribd and Oyster. Sadly, the authors that do rely on Amazon for the most part have poorly written titles and will never be purchased or loaned out for free. This makes Unlimited a barren wasteland of quality content from indie authors.

Should avid readers sign up for Unlimited? I would advise against it. The service is only available to residents of the US and there simply isn’t enough quality content to make it really viable beyond the first month.

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Sony has been selling e-readers and eBooks since 2004 and they were the first mainstream company who made a serious powerplay to cultivate the industry. Their successes and failures over the years acted as a playbook for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo to enter the the fray and immediately make an impact. Sony eventually got nudged out of the business due to the prices of e-readers coming down, to a such a point, that it was not financially viable anymore to continue. In February 2014 Sony announced that they were exiting the eBook space and Kobo would take over their book business. Aside from the preliminary press release Kobo has been silent about their dealings with Sony, but today Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn has spoke to Good e-Reader all about it.

“In North America we have been really happy with the Sony customers coming over to Kobo. People have been really interested and excited about our retail ecosystem and our investment around recommendations and how to discover your next great read. As a company, we are very happy with the collaboration and quality of customers coming over.” said Tamblyn.

Michael is referring to Sony closing their online eBook store and gravitating their existing client base to Kobo. The entire modern line of Sony e-readers such as the PRS-T1, T2 and T3 have received firmware updates that removed the Sony Reader Store and implemented the Kobo store. Existing Sony customers had emails sent over to them before the big change, instructing them on how to transfer their existing customers over to Kobo.

“The Sony and Kobo relationship has been successful in a couple of ways, we are concerned about people accessing their digital libraries for the long-term and buy new books. Our primary motivation was stepping in for a company exiting the eBook space and allowing customers to buy new titles.” Tamblyn elaborated.

Not all customers were happy for the Reader Store to close and switch to Kobo. Jeff P recently wrote “HORRID! HORRID! HORRID! I’ve been a member since November 2007. The only readers or tablets I’ve ever were Sony so that I could use the reader software. I once told a sales clerk that I didn’t need the extended warranty because I was buying a Sony. Almost every piece of electronic equipment I have is Sony. I won’t buy another Sony ANYTHING. Yes, you say customers are first, well, I’m the first customer to tell you that you’ve made a HORRID mistake and I’m never going to buy another Sony product EVER.”

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Amazon has finally rolled out their pre-order program for all authors who distribute through the Kindle Direct Publishing. Self-published authors will be able to start selling their title before its officially ready, giving them the ability to hype the book in advance and start capturing sales.

Indie authors can only start selling the book 90 days before the book’s release date.  When they make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date.

One advantage of pre-order is that authors can begin promoting the book before launch to help raise awareness. There are various avenues in the Amazon ecosystem to drum up hype, such as your book’s pre-order page on Author Central, Goodreads, your own site, and elsewhere. Also, pre-orders will contribute toward sales rank and other Kindle Store merchandising even before the book is released, which can help more readers discover your book.

Amazon has just released a helpful FAQ which addresses many of the most popular questions and concerns from the KDP pre-order program that has been beta tested over the last year.

How it works

You’ll list your book as you would with any other KDP book. When you’re adding a new book, on Step 4, “Select Your Book Release Option,” you will choose “Make my book available for pre-order” and set a date in the future. That’s it.

Though your book isn’t available for download yet, we’ll still publish a product detail page for it within 24 hours of approval. Customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date. However, customers won’t be able to download sample content for pre-order books.
You can list pre-order books in all marketplaces except Amazon.com.in, where pre-orders are not currently available. Your book will release at midnight local time in each marketplace.

Requirements

When you list a book for pre-order, you’ll need to upload the final version or a draft manuscript of the book file for review. Typically, a draft manuscript would be something like a complete book that might still need copyediting and proofreading. We won’t show the version to customers, but we’ll need to preview the content for compliance with our Program Policies before creating the pre-order detail page. It will go through the same review process that any other KDP book would. Your final version must be uploaded 10 days before the release date you set.

Eligibility

Only new KDP books are eligible for pre-order. Public domain books are not eligible for pre-order. You may list up to 10 titles at once for pre-order, with room for more pre-order listings as you release each title.

Reporting and Royalty

Your pre-order report is updated as orders are placed. This report includes pre-ordered units, pre-order cancellations, and net pre-order units. Your pre-order sales data will not appear in other reports until after your book is delivered to customers on its release date. After that, you’ll see pre-order units listed in the Prior Months’ Royalties report, under the “Pre-order” transaction type.

Once your book is released and customers start downloading their copies, you will receive credit for final sales. Once you meet the monthly minimum sales threshold, you’ll be paid royalty approximately 60 days after the end of the month.

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amazon

Over the weekend Amazon launched a new propaganda website that dumbs down the contract dispute between Hachette and Amazon. It targets the readers and proclaims that Amazon just wants to keep book prices around the $9.99 mark and doesn’t think its fair that users pay beyond that. Amazon encouraged its readers to directly email  Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch to end the dispute for good, here is what he said.

“Thank you for writing to me in response to Amazon’s email. I appreciate that you care enough about books to take the time to write. We usually don’t comment publicly while negotiating,but I’ve received a lot of requests for Hachette’s response to the issues raised by Amazon, and want to reply with a few facts.

Hachette sets prices for our books entirely on our own, not in collusion with anyone.

We set our ebook prices far below corresponding print book prices, reflecting savings in manufacturing and shipping.

More than 80% of the ebooks we publish are priced at $9.99 or lower.

Those few priced higher—most at $11.99 and $12.99—are less than half the price of their print versions.

Those higher priced ebooks will have lower prices soon, when the paperback version is published.

The invention of mass-market paperbacks was great for all because it was not intended to replace hardbacks but to create a new format available later, at a lower price.

As a publisher, we work to bring a variety of great books to readers, in a variety of formats and prices. We know by experience that there is not one appropriate price for all ebooks, and that all ebooks do not belong in the same $9.99 box. Unlike retailers, publishers invest heavily in individual books, often for years, before we see any revenue. We invest in advances against royalties, editing, design, production, marketing, warehousing, shipping, piracy protection, and more. We recoup these costs from sales of all the versions of the book that we publish — hardcover, paperback, large print, audio, and ebook. While ebooks do not have the $2-$3 costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping that print books have, their selling price carries share of all our investments in the book.

This dispute started because Amazon is seeking a lot more profit and even more market share, at the expense of authors, bricks and mortar bookstores, and ourselves. Both Hachette and Amazon are big businesses and neither should claim a monopoly on enlightenment, but we do believe in a book industry where talent is respected and choice continues to be offered to the reading public.

Once again, we call on Amazon to withdraw the sanctions against Hachette’s authors that they have unilaterally imposed, and restore their books to normal levels of availability. We are negotiating in good faith. These punitive actions are not necessary, nor what we would expect from a trusted business partner.

Thank you again and best wishes,

Michael Pietsch

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Voracious readers have many different options available to peruse their favorite book. Tablets, e-Readers, smartphones and real books are all viable options. Over the course of the last month we have ran a poll on our website where 784 people weighed in on their reading habits.

The vast majority of people (58%) prefer a dedicated e-reader, such as the Kindle, Nook or Kobo. 16% of the respondents proclaimed that they still primarily read paperback or trade books, while 15% read on their tablet. Smartphones (4.59%) , PC (1.15%) , Laptop (2.04%)  and ultrabooks (.13%) were very negligible.

I am not surprised that the Good e-Reader audience reads on their e-ink device, as it is easier on the eyes and has wicked battery life.

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Mother and girl holding E-book reader at home

When you are the most financially successful company in the digital library space, an inflated sense of ego generally occurs. Overdrive is trying to start a new holiday called “Read an eBook Day” and is giving away a number of free tablets and e-readers just by visiting their site.

Read an eBook Day is a new program that Overdrive hopes to draw attention to their various verticals. Patrons can borrow a digital book from their local libraries (as long as its an Overdrive supported one)  or they can buy eBooks (from a company using Overdrives WhiteLabel Bookstore system).

Overdrive is trying to start a holiday that basically shills their own products and services and makes no mention of Amazon, Kobo, B&N or competitors such as Axis 360 or 3M Cloud Library.  They should have called it “Read an Overdrive eBook day.”

A corporate holiday centered around a specific company and not a movement is disingenuous. Trying to leverage readers and enveloping them into your own ecosystem is considered by many, to be a hostile act. What is next? A “Celebrate Life Day” with Aquafina? “Keep your Lawn Preety Week” with John Deere?

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couple-reading-books

Amazon has started a new website that explains the nature of the Hachette eBook dispute and hopes to alleviate some concerns. It is aimed primarily at readers and how they will pay less money for their favorite digital titles. The full note is quite detailed and is available to read below.

Dear Readers,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents — it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution — places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette — a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate — are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books — he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com
Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com

Please consider including these points:

– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
– Lowering e-book prices will help — not hurt — the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Categories : E-Book News
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Penguin unveiled a brand new anniversary edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last week. The Roald Dahl novel is eliciting a hefty amount of criticism from the entire reading community.

The new book cover is eliciting a tremendous amount of negative press on Penguins official Facebook page, where the unveiling took place. Creepy, awful, Toddlers and Tiaras, Valley of the Dolls, A low point for Penguin covers, the image is dreadful, is that supposed to be Veruca Salt? Absolutely misleading. I wouldn’t buy a book with a cover like this for my child. It is a timeless classic and Penguin has ruined it. One Dahl fan summed up the reaction: ‘Is there time for a reprint? You’re destroying my childhood.’

But Penguin said it stressed “the light and the dark aspects” of Dahl’s work. “This design is in recognition of the book’s extraordinary cultural impact and is one of the few children’s books to be featured in the Penguin Modern Classics list. This new image for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life.”

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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Readers in the UK have not been swayed by the rise of eBooks to give up on their print collections. According to a new report 84% of UK adults have a bookshelf full of books with the average being 86 titles.

When it comes to book ownership the largest collections were held by the 55-64 age group, with an average of 118 books, while the smallest were those of 16-24-year-olds, with an average of 50 books each.

UK residents have not been embracing eBooks in great numbers, with average UK adults owning 19 digital editions. The largest number of eBooks were held by 45-54 year olds, who had an average of 22, while 16-24-year-olds had the smallest, at just 12.

When book ownership reports like this are released, its important to note the types of books the average person has. The statistical average would include all those strange girls who post YouTube clips of how many books they bought that month, usually multi-volume series, as well as anyone who was counting all their leftover kid’s books from when they were learning to read. Add in e-books bought on impulse and the modal average is likely 30 titles. That’s not the same as reading anything much on a day-to-day basis. Remember, ‘books’ doesn’t mean novels, so Jamie Oliver and Gok Wan might be disproportionately represented in their libraries.

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