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AmazonShippingPic
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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Paul-Kingsnorth-FD1

The Man Booker Prize for literature is one of the most prestigious awards in publishing and very often the winners go on to critical success. Any author can be considered, as long as their work is in English and published in the UK. Today, the longlist of the class of 2014 have been unveiled, and gives us an indication on some of the most essential reads of the year.

The 13 books themselves are selected by six judges chaired by philosopher Anthony Grayling. They selected four books by Americans, six Britons, two Irish writers and one Australian.

One of the most interesting books on the list was The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth. The premise of The Wake is a historical novel set in 1066 and written in what the author calls “shadow tongue”, a mix of modern and Old English. It follows a band of English resistance fighters battling the invaders in the decade following the Norman Conquest.

The Wake certainly is very unique in the subject matter, but what is more compelling is what it took to get it published. Paul took to a new literary service called UNBOUND, which allows authors to pitch their books to the crowd and people can kick in in sums of £5 to £300. Think of it as the Kickstarter of book publishing. The author raised £14,000, and Unbound markets, distributes and handles sales. In its three years of being in business, Unbound has successfully funded 65 books and 40 of those have so far been published. The biggest hit to date has been Letters of Note, a UK best-seller.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)

The Man Booker, which is awarded to the best novel of the year in the opinion of the judges, is worth £50,000 to the winner. Previous winners include Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring up the Bodies, and two novels where sales have topped two million copies each, Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

The judges will meet again to reduce their longlist to a shortlist of six titles which will be announced on Tuesday 9th September. The winning novel will be revealed on the BBC television’s Ten O’Clock News direct from a black-tie dinner in London’s Guildhall on October 14.

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Cynthia-Michaels-book-bubble-889
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.

ereading
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.

wattpad_ipad
Copyright is a hotly contested issue facing both authors and the publishing industry, as rights holders work to strike a balance between safeguarding content and sharing it across a variety of platforms to reach as many readers as possible. In the era of digital publishing, ebook piracy, and open sharing authoring platforms, some industry response has been to tighten the reins even further to combat the over-inflated perceived threat of content loss.

Wattpad, a site which makes discovery possible through more than 30 million reader memberships, is designed specifically for authors to write and post content, then for readers to share that content with their own followers. But one of the chief questions plaguing the concept often comes from new authors to the site: is it safe?

In response, Wattpad announced this week that it has developed Open Stories, a Creative Commons option that authors can choose to let their work reach as many readers as possible while allowing those readers to be a part of the process.

According to Wattpad’s announcement on this new option, “The biggest question facing new writers today isn’t how to protect their work; it’s how to find a readership for it,” said Cory Doctorow, science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. “It makes complete sense that so many Wattpad writers are gravitating toward Creative Commons licenses: by giving others permission to share your writing, you can open doors to new audiences and new creative opportunities.

“Cory Doctorow has shared five stories on Wattpad under CC licenses, including New York Times best-selling novels Homeland and Little Brother. Today, to coincide with the roll out of CC 4.0, he will share his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, on Wattpad.

Creative Commons is gaining more and more ground as content owners begin to more fully understand the changes that have taken place, largely due to technology and advances in the internet and social media. The original system of licensing permissions to read and share content don’t lend themselves well to the digital publishing age, and CC is working to address the necessary protections while still allowing the freedom of discovery.

“From day one Wattpad has been about self-expression and creativity. With the integration of CC 4.0 creators from around the world will be able to search millions of stories on Wattpad and use them for their own artistic pursuits,” said Co-founder and CEO of Wattpad Allen Lau. “Licensing creative works under CC 4.0 makes total sense in today’s remixing culture.”

An ebook being used by an elderly person
The PA Digital Sales Monitor, new report from the UK-based Publishers’ Association, showed that ebook sales are on the rise for the first quarter of 2014. This report, which showed a 10.5% increase in digital sales, comes at a time when the debate around ebooks and their viability from different angles is starting to make waves again.

According to a press release issued on the first quarter sales, “The growth in sales was also spread across all recorded categories. In the consumer sector digital sales of fiction increased 8%, with a 10% rise in sales of adult non-fiction. Digital sales of children’s titles meanwhile enjoyed a particularly strong performance, with a 33% rise.

“In the educational/professional sector the largest growth was seen in Scientific Technical and Medical (STM) books, where sales increased by 16%, however, there were also strong performances by schools/English Language Teaching (ELT) sales which grew 14%, and social sciences/humanities which saw an 11% rise.”

eBooks as a viable source of industry revenue for both traditional publishing and indie has been called into question in the past, especially given the fact that critics love to indicate the plateau that ebooks seem to have hit with readers. While their growth had seemed to slow in recent years, they remained steady with e-reading fans. This growth indicates a forward movement in the format, giving even more credence to the disputes currently taking place between retailers and publishers regarding sales agreements, and between publishers and their authors over royalties.

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, said, “The Publishers Association Digital Sales Monitor shows the continuing development and growth of digital publishing in the UK. Increases in digital sales in both consumer and non-consumer sectors shows how publishing as an industry has embraced digital technology and continued its strong track record of innovation and service delivery.”

Tom-Kabinet

Dutch Publishers have failed to convince a court to shut down a popular used eBook website. A potential battle between lawyers would cost millions over the concept of being able to sell your eBooks legally.

The Amsterdam District Court ruled that website Tom Kabinet can stay open for business during a legal battle against the Dutch Publishers Association. The publishers believe Tom Kabinet infringes on copyrights, said Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, a copyright lawyer who represents the Dutch Publishers Association (DPA), which has sued to take the site offline.

The Dutch courts have ruled in favor of Tom Kabinet because of the 2012 decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which ruled in a dispute between Oracle and UsedSoft that the trading of “used” software licenses is legal and that the author of such software cannot oppose any resale. This verdict also applies to ebooks, according to Tom Kabinet.

The essence of Kabinet is that people who own eBooks can upload them to the website and sell them. When a book is sold, a digital watermark is added to the file to insure they will not filter to pirate websites and to add accountability for the buyer and seller.

The judge overseeing the trial has informed the publishers that they can try and mount a case against Kabinet, contending that the Oracle and Usedsoft judgement does not apply to eBooks.


Categories : E-Book News
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3

One of the largest book publishers in the world, HarperCollins, has announced they are starting a pilot project to give away the digital version of a book when you buy the printed version.

HarperCollins has partnered with BitLit, a Canadian based startup that get the eBook of a print book you already own. As long as you own the book, you can use BitLit to download the eBook for FREE or highly discounted. There are over 20,000 titles that are available through BitLit as bundled eBooks from publishers.

Claiming your free or heavily discounted book is quite easy, simply take a photo of your book cover. Write your name on the book’s copyright page and take a photo.  Once you have your eBook, you can read it on any and all of your devices: Kobo, Nook, Kindle, or iPad.

HarperCollins is the largest publisher to date to get attracted to BitLit platform. Smaller companies like Angry Robot Books, Baker Publishing, Barrett-Koehler, Chicago Review Press, Coach House Books, Echo, Greystone, Kids Can Press, Morgan James Publishing, Nimbus Publications, O’Reilly Media, Orca, Other Press, Poisoned Pen Press, Roaring Forties Press and TouchWood Editions all do business with BitLit.

The pilot project is starting with only six titles, Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, Jeaniene Frost’s Halfway to the Grave, Kim Harrison’s Black Magic Sanction, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles, and Andrew Gross’ 15 Seconds.  Each eBook will only cost $1.99 to $2.99 if you have the physical version.

Download the BitLit app for Google Android or IOS.

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rotator-four-boots-one-journey
Verdict: 5 Stars

This is a book entirely about love: love between spouses, love between siblings, love for nature and the land. When the author’s wife lost her brother to suicide, he had no way of bringing her out of her pain other than through the thing he loved, hiking. Having just completed the 2000-mile Appalachian Trail himself, he turned around and lured his wife on a more than 200-mile journey along the entire John Muir Trail with the purpose of helping her work through her grief while raising awareness about the depression that cost her brother his life.

The book details every aspect of this kind of adventure. Everything from mundane descriptions of how they ate, bathed, slept, and survived, to descriptions of the more harrowing encounters with wild animals, grueling conditions, and uncertainty were outlined in the book.

Avid fans of adventure titles and non-fiction travelogues may find themselves disappointed in this book because it’s not meant to be a title about hiking or about the geography. While those factors play an important role in the story, that’s not the focus of Alt’s title. This is a book about healing through pushing oneself farther than anyone ever thought possible, and refusing to stand by helplessly while a loved one is in pain.

Four Boots One Journey is available now.

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Author Earnings
In what is perhaps the single most telling example of why the traditional publishing fails to address the needs of authors, The Guardian posted an interview with Phillip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, and Nicola Solomon, general secretary of the UK’s Society of Authors. While the Bookseller is a publishing industry news source and the Society has recently spoken out about the poor contract terms that traditionally published authors are forced to accept, both representatives made some laughable remarks about both self-publishing and the Author Earnings reports in particular.

According to the most recent report, self-published titles make up more than one-fourth of the books published on Kindle, yet indie authors make 40% of the royalties, which is more than the Big Five publishers receive combined. Despite having fewer books published, these authors earn more.

But Jones dismissed the AE report on the grounds that (wait for it), we don’t really know who this “Data Guy” is who claims to work with author Hugh Howey on compiling the numbers.

Yes, Jones is willing to overlook the multitude of pie charts and bar graphs that are included in every single AE report, and instead would prefer to shed a disparaging light on the source of the mathematical equations. Jones actually implied that “Data Guy” may be just an Amazon employee whose mission is to spread bad information about traditional publishing.

“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,” Jones said. “I think of it more as part of Amazon’s PR effort, rather than an objective overview of the digital marketplace.”

Of course, never missing an opportunity to bad-mouth Amazon, Jones continued by saying that Amazon holds all of the sales data and refuses to share it, so how can anyone possibly make a sound decision? As though the traditional publishers don’t know how many books they’ve sold and also aren’t sharing that information?

Solomon was slightly more forgiving as she applauded Howey’s efforts to arm authors with solid data and knowledge, but even she went on to state that publishers earn a significant portion of their revenue from print sales, and Author Earnings only takes into account ebook sales. This is true because most indie authors will earn more from their ebook sales than print.

What Jones and Solomon didn’t grasp is that this isn’t about publisher revenue, it’s about how much of that revenue trickles down to the authors. While Big Five print titles, for example, may sell more than the average indie author’s work, a self-published author has to sell far fewer copies than a traditionally published author to earn the same amount of income. Solomon did graciously point out that publishers’ royalty terms barely produce a living wage for authors, and that change needs to happen before traditional publishing becomes obsolete. What the industry hopefully will recognize is that change doesn’t have to happen as long as authors are kept ignorant of the possibilities for better royalties and equal sales, a fact that AE reports are trying to remedy.