E-Book News

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The Polish eBook industry is starting to see some significant gains and rose 28% in 2013. There are some differing opinions on the exact figures when it comes to digital publishing. Biblioteka Analiz research exclaims that eBooks are valued at $16.3 million USD, while Pricewaterhouse Coopers is more conservative at $8 million USD.

Piotr Kubiszewski is an independent expert in digital publishing in Poland since 2005. He notes that there is only 40,000 eBook titles currently in circulation and 80% of new books that come out are digitized.

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Publishers are not overly concerned with digitizing their backlist titles right now, because there aren’t enough sales to make it financially viable. In 2013 the book selling industry was valued at $800 million USD, and only around $8-%16 million USD derived from eBooks.

On a consumer level, one of the barriers of eBook adoption is the VAT. Currently in Poland if you buy a digital title you are paying 23%, meanwhile print books are only taxed at 5%. The lower tax bracket on physical titles might be one of the deciding factors when libraries, schools and academia are establishing book acquisition budgets, it simply goes further with print.

One of the bright spots that have really increased the viability of eBooks is the unilateral acceptable of watermarks by the publishing industry. This is a stark contrast to North America, which bogs readers in a mire of Adobe DRM. In North America, the average digital reader is locked into dealing with one particular ecosystem, because of the way they package their encryption. You can buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo, but their formats are not interchangeable. You simply can’t buy an Amazon title and read it on your Kobo.

Polish readers benefit tremendously from watermarks, because it does not restrict or hinder your ability to load the book on your e-reader, smartphone or tablet. No third party programs are needed and this makes the entire process more intuitive and encourages the loaning them out to your friends. Piracy is actually reduced because of watermarks, because there is a clear path of ownership and removing the marks is an arduous process, few practice.

The Polish eBook industry is dominated by a number of homegrown companies that have managed to flourish in the last five years. Virtualo.pl, Publio.pl, Nexto.pl, Woblink.com and eBookPoint.pl are the current industry leaders. Piotr’s research has noted that when it comes to eBook sales, 90% stem from EPUB or MOBI, while PDF files only account for 10%.

Amazon currently does not have an official presence in Poland, but that has not stopped the vast majority of readers from using them regularly. Kindle adoption is at record highs, 84% of all book sales from Publio.pl and 73% of Virtualo.pl are sold in MOBI, which is the main Kindle book format. It is very apparent that people are loyal to the Amazon brand over e-readers that are more common in that part of the world, including Tolino, Pocketbook, or Onyx.

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After by Anna Todd has had over one billion reads on WattPad, this has attracted attention from Paramount Pictures and they decided to make a film out of it.

Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot will produce through their Offspring Entertainment banner. Their credits include the Step Up series to 17 Again, Bedtime Stories, Hairspray, Rock Of Ages and The Last Song. This will be the first time a serialized book from WattPad will be made into a feature film.

Confirming the news on her Instagram page, After author Anna Todd wrote: “In case you haven’t heard… Paramount acquired the rights to After!!! I am so happy and so excited to finally tell you!… Never give up on your dreams because mine came true and so can yours!!

After has been billed as the ‘new Twilight’ and ’50 Shades of Grey without the S&M’. The book is basically fan-fiction of One Direction singer  Harry Styles. “Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend. She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.”

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Many readers cite the price of eBooks as one of the primarily aspects of why they choose to read digitally. A new report by Books and e-Books UK 2014 is trying to quantify the parallel between cheaper books and reading more.  Their data suggests 26% of consumers who have bought an eBook in the last year are reading more than they used to, because eBooks cost less than paperbacks, a figure that rises to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds.

21% of Brits have bought a fiction eBook in the past year, the boom does seem to be plateauing as this marks a slight 1% point growth on 2013. However, this is a rise from the 15% of Brits claiming they had bought a digital fiction title in 2012.

Whilst the sales of e-books are still showing healthy growth, there are signs that this will steady in 2014. Sales of eBooks are estimated to reach £340 million in 2014 up from £300 million in 2013, marking a 12% rise. However this rise is in stark contrast to the growth seen in previous years. Sales in 2013 for example were 38% up on 2012, which stood at £216 million. In contrast, sales of print books are estimated to stay at £1.4 billion in 2014, the same value as 2013 which would mark just a 0.4% year on year fall in revenue.

Samuel Gee, Senior Technology and Media Analyst at Mintel said “Today, 31% of Brits own an e-reader, up from 21% in 2012, but down from 35% in April 2014. Indeed, it seems that the growth of the e-reader has not caused UK book-lovers to clear their shelves. Over a third (36%) of UK book buyers buy both e-books and print books and 42% of these say that they will always buy the cheapest version of the book no matter which format it is in. Further showing that those who have picked up their e-readers aren’t leaving printed books altogether, seven in 10 (70%) e-reader owners have bought a paperback in the past year. In contrast, just 30% of print book buyers have also purchased digitally.

Overall, a third (32%) of Brits have not bought a book in the past year and it seems that the most common reason is that they are not interested in reading. Indeed, a third (34%) of Brits who have not purchased a book in the past year are simply not interested in reading books, rising to 42% of men who haven’t purchased a book. On the other hand, one in five (21%) say they do not have time to read books and 12% say they can’t afford to buy them.

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Adobe Digital Editions is used by millions of libraries and readers to transfer eBooks to their devices. This can include e-readers, tablets or smartphones. Whenever you add an eBook to the ADE library, information is transferred to the Adobe servers in plain text. The data comprises of your User ID, Device ID, IP address, how long it took you to complete the book and percentage of the book read. Anyone with the correct tools can monitor your reading habits and it doesn’t take much for all of your private information to fall into the wrong hands.

It is important to note what exactly is transpiring when eBook information is sent to Adobe. Many media outlets are incorrectly reporting that all EPUB and PDF books on your computer are being scanned and sent to Adobe. The only books that are affected are the ones you import into  Digital Editions for the purposes of sending to your e-reader, smartphone or tablet.

Libraries stand the most to lose from the Adobe Digital Editions firestorm. Chiefly because unless you use a dedicated app from 3M, Overdrive, or Baker & Taylor on your device, you will end up using it to transfer content to your Kindle, Kobo, or Nook. This is a critical piece of software needed to transfer a book borrowed from the library to their device.

The Amazon Kindle is a bit of a different beast than all other e-readers. infoDOCKET’s Gary Price noted that whenever a user checks out a library ebook on a Kindle device, Amazon gets access to their reading data as well (per the Kindle terms of use). He added that “the dedication and vigilance to user privacy that the public (both library users and non-users) appreciate from libraries is not the same in the digital world (for many reasons) and we need to do more.”

“Sending this information in plain text undermines decades of efforts by libraries and bookstores to protect the privacy of their patrons and customers,” Electronic Frontier Foundation Corynne McSherry wrote in a blog post about the issue.

“People expect and deserve that their reading activities remain private, and libraries closely guard the confidentiality of library users’ records,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “The unencrypted online transmission of library reader data is not only egregious, it sidesteps state laws around the country that protect the privacy of library reading records. Further, this affects more than library users; it is a gross privacy violation for ALL users of Adobe Digital Editions 4.”

An Adobe spokesperson provided the following statement: “Adobe Digital Editions allows users to view and manage eBooks and other digital publications across their preferred reading devices—whether they purchase or borrow them. All information collected from the user is collected solely for purposes such as license validation and to facilitate the implementation of different licensing models by publishers.” Some of these models could include eBook subscription services that pay the author after a certain number of pages are read.

Adobe has announced that they are issuing a patch for the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions. The company noted that “In terms of the transmission of the data collected, Adobe is in the process of working on an update to address this issue.” It is unclear on what they mean, but likely they will try and improve eBook security so that the transmitted data is not in plain text.


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Vote

Indie authors constantly look for ways to make their title standout in a crowded marketplace. Thousands of new eBooks are released every single day and getting readers or developing a core following is great challenge. Amazon is seeking to assist indies with a new program called Kindle Scout.

The premise of Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book receives a publishing contract. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

Authors can submit their title to Kindle Scout and it normally takes a few days to see if you are accepted or not. What makes me happy, is that there are dedicated Amazon staff that are vetting out titles, to ensure some semblance of quality and control. The eBooks themselves have to be 50,000 words or more in Word format and in addition needs cover art. In order to submit the title to Kindle Scout there are some requirements, such as author bio, a photo of the author, description and a special thank you. The personal message is automatically sent to any reader that nominates your book to get published.

Kindle Scout campaigns last 30 days and if your book gets enough votes, Amazon will give you a $1,500 advance to keep it off rival platforms for five years. They will also lend an assist in marketing the book and this should lead to more sales.

I like the ides of Kindle Scout. It basically is a solid avenue for the readers to decide what gets published. If the cover art or description of the book is sub-par to convoluted, it will likely never see the light of day. Hopefully, the end goal of Kindle Scout is to educate indie authors on what can get funded and what cannot. It could serve as a possible case study to analyze the books that make it, and the ones that don’t. There should be some constituencies.

Major publishers are likely looking at Kindle Scout with salivating eyes. The platform may give an indication of new literary trends and what type of genres are resonating with readers. What is the hot new trend with the hardcore reader that actually takes the time to vote? This type of data is valuable for for an industry that is bestseller dependent and who loves a franchise.

Here is an example of what a Kindle Scout campaign looks like.  Authors who are interested in learning more can check out the Amazon hype page.

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The National Reading Campaign is a great Canadian initiative that leverages social media outlets and gets people to share their reading experiences. They also establish partnerships with schools, libraries and news outlets to focus on reading, whether its digital or tangible.

Recently the company released the above infographic, in conjunction with CBC Books. It basically hypes the fact that reading leads to a more stress free lifestyle and is a major contributing factor towards your overall health.

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A French watchdog is warning publishers that eBook subscription service Scribd offers hundreds of titles that don’t have an  agreement with a publisher or author.

Scribd is billing itself as a Netflix for eBooks and offers customers the ability to pay a low monthly fee and read as many digital titles as they want. This can be accomplished via their official e-reading apps for iOS and Android.

A number of larger publishers such as Simon and Shuster, Lonely Planet and Smashwords all contribute titles, which validates the platform as a viable alternative to buying each book one by one. One of the problems, is that publishers can upload titles without restriction and quality and control normally comes later.

The Group for the Development of Digital Reading aims to be the hub for all professionals working in the publishing industry to organize and structure the digital industry in a constructive complement to the paper. You can think of them as the poor mans IDPF of France, where they try and lobby for standards and bring issues into public light. 

GDN is basically accusing Scribd of eBook piracy by offering hundreds of titles by French publisher Bragelonne, otherwise known as Albin Michel. The publisher has not sanctioned the titles to be included into Scribds platform.

Scribd CEO Trip Adler weighed in on the controversy and said “Scribd takes piracy very seriously and we’re continuously working to ensure only quality, authorized content is being uploaded. As with any user-generated content platform, users can break the rules and upload materials they do not have the right to share, but Scribd expressly and actively prohibits such activity. Our proprietary Book ID copyright protection system works by analyzing documents for semantic data, meta data, images, and other elements and creates an encoded “fingerprint” of the copyrighted work. If an author or publisher believes there is unauthorized use of their content, they should request removal of infringements through DMCA notification by completing this simple online form at http://scribd.com/report and Scribd will respond within 2 business days to valid DMCA notifications. Scribd’s Copyright Resource Center also provides publishers authors and users with valuable information on acceptable user behavior, copyright protection and Book ID.”

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Samsung

Samsung has been enjoying the position of being the number one device maker in the world for Android driven smartphones and tablets. They have been enjoying a solid 65% market share of all Android devices sold worldwide.  Given the popularity of their devices they have been really hyping their forays into digital publishing, to bring e-reading to the masses. 

Samsung is serving as the inaugural Innovation Partner at this years Frankfurt Book Fair. They are showcasing the company’s mobile devices and their digital reading capabilities at the world’s largest trade fair for the international publishing industry. It is currently running from October 8th to the 12th.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, Samsung will work with its partners to engage and support both publishers and consumers through a series of events, such as panels and experiential areas. This includes the Samsung Galaxy Studio, where attendees can experience Samsung’s latest mobile devices which represent the next step in mobile lifestyle and culture, such as the Galaxy Tab S, Galaxy Note 4, Gear VR, Gear Circle and the Level series premium audio products.

“As books continue to reach consumers in various electronic forms, we strive to deliver the most advanced and innovative device options that embrace new forms of creative storytelling and content,” said Younghee Lee, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics. “In that spirit, we partnered with the Frankfurt Book Fair, where we have been demonstrating our commitment to the global publishing industry and our devotion to address the diversifying reading experience, as evidenced in our industry-leading suite of mobile products, led by the latest Galaxy Note 4 and Tab S.”

“The publishing industry is rapidly advancing as consumers move from an analog reading experience to a digital one,” said Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. “We are proud to have Samsung as our first ever Innovation Partner and are delighted to showcase the way technology is changing people’s lives and the way they consume content.”

Samsung began to focus on digital reading in 2010 when it developed the Readers Hub. This was a dedicated area that made available eBooks from Kobo, Newspapers from PressReader and magazines from Zinio. In 2013 they developed a cool feature called Reading Mode, which adjusts the background color of the tablet for easier reading.

Amazon and Samsung make for some very strange bedfellows, but earlier this year a specialized Kindle app was developed for the Samsung Galaxy S5. This gave new smartphone owners the ability to buy and read eBooks from Amazon. As an added incentive every month 4 free eBooks are made available and readers can select one to read, without having to pay a dime.

One of the largest e-reading partnerships ever struck was a deal Sasmung made with Barnes and Noble. In late 2014 the two sides formally unveiled the Sasmung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK in the United States, the first-ever full-featured Android tablet optimized for reading.

“Samsung understands the importance of digital reading as well as the challenges that face the market, from both a device and content perspective,” said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Office of Barnes & Noble, Inc. “By putting reading first with the Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK, Samsung has responded to consumers in a way previously unseen in the mobile technology industry.”

Samsung continues to develop innovative mobile technology to enhance and refine the digital reading experience. With the company’s Adaptive Display technology, the long challenge of tablet display glare has been solved, making digital reading outdoors and in low light easy on the eyes.

In June 2014, Samsung partnered with Marvel to bring its incredible library of 15,000 digital comics to Galaxy Tab S owners through its Marvel Unlimited application. The two companies are also working together to extend Marvel content into new mediums with premium content on both the Galaxy Tab S and Gear VR.

“At Marvel, we aim to create an incredible digital entertainment experience that duplicates the same joy and emotional connection users feel when reading traditional print content,” said Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. “Our partnership with Samsung has helped us maintain that level of quality with the ability to deliver our digital comics on innovative devices that not only recreate, but go beyond the colors and quality of print. We are also collaborating with Samsung to take our creative storytelling off the page with exclusive film and virtual reality content that can be accessed on their incredible mobile products.”

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Barnes and Noble has quietly been building a large catalog of digital newspapers and magazines for their Nook line of e-readers and tablets. In order to glean more market share, the largest bookseller in the US has just partnered with Overdrive to make available content from the Nook Newsstand to libraries.

NOOK Newsstand features the largest digital collection of the top 100 bestselling U.S. magazines, available for both digital subscriptions and single copy sales, and a vast collection of newspapers and magazines from around the world. A huge selection of that content will be available for readers to check out for free from their local library. The new partnership between OverDrive and NOOK Newsstand will enable readers to access popular magazines and newspapers in the same manner, and on the same website, as they discover and borrow OverDrive eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video. Libraries will be able to purchase concurrent access to all selected publications.

Library patrons can check out these digital magazines and newspapers with a valid library card and read them through their NOOK account via a NOOK tablet device or Free NOOK Reading App available for a multitude of smartphones and tablets. Customers who download NOOK Newsstand content through their local library always have access to the free in-store support and expertise provided by the booksellers at Barnes & Noble’s more than 650 bookstores across the U.S.

“NOOK Newsstand is one of the leading providers of digital magazines and newspapers and this new partnership with OverDrive is another example of our commitment to delivering great content to all readers,” said Jonathan Shar, Vice President and General Manager of Emerging Digital Content at NOOK Media LLC. “OverDrive is the foremost supplier of eBooks to libraries and we are thrilled to partner with them to offer library patrons the opportunity to access our award-winning content and reading technology.”

“The new digital service for periodicals will provide readers the ability to read digital magazines and newspapers with a best-in-class user experience,” said David Burleigh, Director of Marketing & Communication at OverDrive. “Your library card, a NOOK Account, and an Internet connection are all you need to enjoy visually stunning magazines and familiar newspaper layouts on almost all tablets and smartphones.”

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The Audiobook industry has certainly grown up in the digital world. The rise of audio publishing is directly proportionate to the rise of digital distribution. In 2007 a paltry 3,073 titles were available and rose exponentially to over 20,000 published titles in 2013. The entire industry is said to be worth over two billion dollars, which is a huge jump from $480 million in retail sales in 1997.

There are hundreds of audiobook apps listed on the Google Play, Amazon App Store and Good e-Reader App Store.  Some of them have hundreds of solid reviews that gush over the excellent features, but have not been updated since 2012. Others have a terrible design and are not very intuitive for your average user. In the end, for this top 5 list, we had to test over 37 different apps just to find the cream of the crop.

You can click on the name of any of these apps to download them directly, using the Good e-Reader App Store. There are a number of screenshots and video, so you can see the app in action.

Audiobooks by Audiobooks.com

This app has a solid design and boasts a catalog of over 50,000 titles. They have a subscription service for $14.95 a month, where you get one audiobook title for free and save 75% off everything else. You cannot buy an audiobook individually, unless you subscribe.

The thing I like about this app is the way they curate the audiobook discovery experience. You can browse for New York Times bestsellers for Fiction and Non-Fiction, and elect to checkout new arrives or browse by genre. I also like the fact you can listen the books offline, once you have downloaded them to your phone or tablet.

What I don’t like about this app is the inability to load in your own audiobooks. You have to do business with the folks at audiobooks.com, which might limit the appeal.

Audible

Amazon owned Audible is the market leader in audiobook technology and has an expansive ecosystem of over 150,000 titles. If you pay 14.95 a month you get one free audiobook and save around 30% on everything else. Incidentally if you have an Apple device, such as a iPhone or iPad and visit the audiobook section on iTunes, all of the content is sourced from Audible, which gives you an indication on how expansive their library is.

One of the strengths of Audible is the synergy with Amazon e-readers and tablets. One of my favorites is the system called Whispersync for Voice, it baically syncs your Kindle book and Audiobook positions to the cloud. This allows you to switch back and forth between reading on the Kindle or Kindle app and listening to an audiobook on an Audible app, Kindle Fire tablet, or Kindle E-reader without ever losing your place. As long as your Whispersync for Voice-ready device has access to the Internet, the playback position, bookmarks, and notes will be kept across devices without any action required.

There are a few things I like about the Audible app. It can connect up to your car via Bluetooth, so you can browse your collection and start listening right away, it also has compatibility with Android Wear. The player itself is designed really well, and has solid options for skipping chapters or just a few seconds.

The thing I don’t like about Audible is the lack of previews unless you register. New users cannot really get a sense on what this system is all about, unless you go through a complicated registration system that calls your phone and entails you to enter all sorts of payment options. I also have a disdain for their whole badge system, where you earn X-Box style achievements for listening to books. If you earned discounts or something based on your volume of purchases or earning all rewards it would be fine, but sadly you do not.

Audiobooks from VoxClub 

This app will appeal towards people who love the classics. This is an audiobook player exclusively geared towards the audio editions of royalty and copyright free titles. You will find everything from Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll and Jack London.

This app is great for people who always intended on reading that classic novel, but never found the time. The audio edition features around 5,000 titles and each one ranges in cost from $2.99 to $8.99. I like the fact they are all really affordable and might be solid for schools that want to adopt audiobook into their curriculum.

I like the fact you can instantly sample books, without having to load the full audiobook player. It gives you a sense on how the narration is done and if the book might be a good fit. The full audio player is rich with options and gives you the ability to quickly scroll forward and backward if you missed a spot.

The downside of this app is many of the audio editions that they charge for, are free on the internet. So, in effect you are paying to use the app and enjoy ease of use.

SpokenWord Audiobook Player

This is one of the few apps on our top list that actually is designed to allow you to load in your own audiobooks. I love this app and when you start it up for the first time, it does not bog you down in complex setup and registration like Mort Player Audiobooks does.

In order to load in your own audiobook the files must be copied to your device and stored in a separate folder. The book folder may consist of audio files or sub-folders with audio files. If a book folder or its sub-folder contains an image file, it will be a first choice for a book cover, though you can use any image from your gallery for this purpose.

The audiobook player itself is really unique. It has 3 scroll bars that allow you to see where you are in the recording and also adjust the pitch. Apparently there are a number of people who like to listen to the book on a faster setting, but not have the voice sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Smart AudioBook Player

This is a great indie audiobook player that has no advertising and extensive options. The one thing I really loved about it when firing it up for the first time was to exclude all of the root Android file tables from being viewed when looking for new audiobooks. This might not seem like a big deal, but it certainly cuts down on the time you are spending navigating directories to find your book.

To find audiobooks on your phone or tablet, it will simply scan your entire device whenever you fire up the app. So if you used another app to purchase content, you can listen to it within Smart Audio Player. You can add or remove books from your library or shutoff the auto scan for those of you with big collections.

The thing I really liked about this app is that it shows you a preview window of the audiobooks cover art. I also liked the sleep mode option, where you can have the player automatically stop the audiobook after a certain amount of time. You can established the cutoff in five minute intervals.

Categories : Audiobooks, E-Book News
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HarperCollins is empowering their cadre of authors to sell eBooks directly with the advent of a new eCommerce platform.  They can add a HarperCollins “buy” button to their site, which will take consumers to www.hc.com to complete their purchase, or they can integrate the HarperCollins shopping cart directly into their website. Additionally, authors can use social media to direct consumers to purchase their products from HarperCollins.

HC is adding mad incentives to authors participating in this program.  They will earn an additional 10% net royalty on print, e-book, and physical audio products sold. As an example, authors earning a 25% net royalty will now receive a 35% net royalty on e-books sold through the HarperCollins platform.

“While our first priority is to sell books through as many different retail channels as possible, we are pleased to provide this platform for our authors who want to sell directly. Our authors can also be certain that their books will always be available to consumers through HarperCollins, even if they are difficult to find or experiencing shipping delays elsewhere,” said Brian Murray, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers. “Since we view this program as both a service to our authors and a partnership with them, those who participate will receive additional earnings.”

The e-commerce program will start in the U.S. and roll out to other HarperCollins divisions over the coming months. Royalties will be paid through the royalty system and will appear on an author’s royalty statement.

It will be interesting to see how other publishing companies gives incentives to their authors to sell eBooks directly on their own websites. Lots of self-publishing services like Smashwords and LULU all give authors a higher royalty rate when eBooks are sold on their site, as opposed to being distributed.

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In the first six months of 2014 eBooks are still not outselling print, whether its a hardcover or paperback novels. According to a new report by Nielsen paperback sales accounted for 42% of all book sales, followed by hardcovers with 25% and finally eBooks with a paltry 23%.

In the real world, eBooks still have ground to make before they can ever compete with trade paperbacks. The average person still finds themselves purchasing content from their local bookstore. How exactly do people find that next great read? 12% of book buyers said that they learned about the titles they purchased through in-store displays, which is quite telling on the role bookstores continue to play in book discovery.  The second most widely reported discovery method was via friends and family members at 10%.  The most surprising aspect is the reverse show room method, where people browse books online and then buy them from a store, which only accounted for 8%.

There is no denying that we still  have a penchant towards print and according to a new report, young people in the UK think that reading on paper provides a more holistic experience, especially when engaging with images and text which can’t be replicated in digital.  73% of youth stated that they prefer print over eBooks.

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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writeon

Amazon has just launched the beta version of a new author service called Kindle Writeon. The premise of the program is to establish a writing community where authors can solicit feedback on the plot and get assistance on fixing up spelling, grammatical errors or just get some research tips. It seems as though Amazon wants to cannibalize Kindle Boards and do battle against the biggest community of all, Wattpad.

Wattpad is an extremely successful digital publishing site that somehow doesn’t seem to get as much press as other well-known names like Smashwords, yet the company has 11 million monthly readers. Wattpad authors post their stories in a format that can be read on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Perhaps most importantly, Wattpad stories can be read on java-based “feature phones” and as such have a huge readership base in third world countries. Wattpad is a very social site, in that readers can collect stories into reading lists, vote for their favorites, and share and comment with friends and writers.  Unlike some other self-publishing sites, Wattpad works well with short stories stories and novellas, as opposed to full length-books.

According to the Wattpad site, readers spend 9 billion minutes on Wattpad every month and more than 500 writers have published pieces that have been read more than a million times. There are over 70 million stories, in 50 languages, on the site. The Toronto-based company has received over $67 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, OMERS Ventures, W Media Ventures, and Golden Venture Partners, and has attracted such famous authors as Margaret Atwood.

Amazon really wants to leverage their expansive Kindle Direct Publishing system in order to create a writing community. Authors simply post their books, whether its complete or a work in progress. Some authors are looking for specific areas of research, such as the accuracy of the inner circle of the Ottoman Empire, others are looking for everything such as  “Character, Overall, Setting, Proofreading, Voice/Tone, Plot.”

The entire system looks more like a dedicated blog post,than an established writing community. Authors can setup profiles, activity feeds, status updates and respond to user comments. Readers can keep tabs on the book by clicking the Like or Follow button and get notified whenever new interactions are made.

Kindle Writeon is in Beta and does not have many users right now. Many of the books on the front page have zero comments, likes and follows. The cover art on the average title is abysmal and I seriously doubt this program will take off. Amazon has a bad habit of trying to destroy their competition by releasing new services that nobody uses. If Amazon cannot buy a company, they just develop their own program to compete directly with it, no matter how haphazard the execution is.

An example of Amazons flawed attack strategy is summed up with Kindle Worlds. This was their attempt at sanctioned fan-fiction, that had publisher support and major intellectual properties attached, such as HASBRO and properties such as Pretty Little Liars. The problem is, hardly any books are being posted and not many users are buying in. FanFiction.net posts 100 new stories every hour across all categories. And Amazon? Its entire output for all 24 “Worlds” of content, which also includes franchises like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, was just 538 stories over the course of more than a year.

Why has Kindle Worlds failed so spectacularly? The problem is the creative limits that brand owners impose on the use of their work. In the case of G.I. Joe, for instance, the villain can’t wear a Yankees cap. Characters in other works can’t use drugs or employ profane language. And gay, bisexual or deviant sexual behavior might be off-limits too. Amazon also discourages anyone from under the age of 18 from contributing content, as they are too young to enter a contract, and this age group is the most prolific when it comes to content.

I would chalk this “community” by Amazon has a lost cause right from the start and refuse to cover it anymore in the future. It might be quaint in the beta format right now, but how long is it going to take before the legions of established self-published authors abuse this community by artificial likes, comments and feedback, driving their title to the front-page? Amazon authors have a notorious history of gaming the system and doing anything within their power to standout in a crowded arena.

In the meantime, you can check out writeon.amazon.com and use the code X9RJTE9H to get in.

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