E-Book News - Part 2

Archive for E-Book News

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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Decentralized technologies like BitTorrent allow people to share books, films, music and pictures. The essence is software allows people download a file for multiple sources at the same time. The more users you have sharing the same file, the faster the downloads are for everyone. There are many companies that have their own clients for different operating systems, but the spirit of the software is  uniform. Over the past few years one  of the original pioneers, Bittorrent,  has offered paid downloads and bundes. This has piqued the interest from the digital publishing world, as an avenue to sell audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, newspapers .

Bittorrent has a free and paid system to distribute your digital content. It is tremendously customizable an artist can use to deliver their songs. Instead of paying web-hosting fees or arranging a complex relationship with a streaming service, Bitorrent makes good business sense. Lets say I have a music album, I can give select tracks away for free and offer a few that are paid.

Bittorrent also runs a bundling solution, where companies can offer a few movies, television shows or showcase different artists. Since bundling launched in 2013 free and paid downloads have reached over one hundred million, this is attractive to publishers.

Monthly Bundle site visitors have increased from 2.1 million, to 25 million (+1,095%). 25% of visitors share the content with their network across some social channel. And fans are coming back, over and over again. 75% of Bundles site traffic is coming from returning users.

Bittorrent makes distributing legitimate content fairly compelling. Of the 7,500 films made in 2014, only 100 will ever be seen. Netflix took down 1,800 titles in 2013, and another 470 in January. Things look pretty dire, even if you’re in a position to have your content played. They’re worse if you’re looking to get paid. Youtube, the world’s largest streaming platform, offers artists $1,750 in exchange for a million streams. Being able to tap into an ecosystem for hundreds of millions of people in a global market to distribute copyrighted work is fairly awesome.  Moby. Madonna. Cut/Copy. De La Soul. Diplo. Death Grips. Werner Herzog. Hundred Waters. Lee Scratch Perry. Lucy Walker. Joshua Oppenheimer. Gabe Polsky. Public Enemy. Amanda Palmer have all gave away free tunes or charged for it.

Many people are obviously wary that Bittorrent as a distribution method, somehow thinking that it is a haven of piracy and not an avenue for real content.  This has resulted in the development of a new system called Pay Gate.  Movie Studios and artists use it to monetize their content. Once payment is received using Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex or PAYPAL, the Bundle is unlocked and downloading will begin.

Publishers have been the one segment who have not gravitated towards the concept of distributing royalty free content, DRM-Free or otherwise on Bittorrent. Authors such as Tim Ferriss and Megan Lisa Jones both employed torrenting their own books to build awareness on new titles. Publishers on the other hand, have not thrown done on the system yet, but some are in a prime position to make it work. 

There are plenty of imprints such as science fiction specialized TOR. They sell their books with no encryption, which makes it perfectly viable to load it on your phone, e-reader and tablet. Pottermore, the publishers behind Harry Potter also do not employ DRM, and instead use digital watermarks.

Digital book sellers have been disappearing in the last few years and major publishers are trying to find away from exclusively relying on Amazon to distribute their books. Publishers can sell their EPUB and PDF books with DRM, and their customers can read them with their favorite e-reader or tablet via Adobe Digital Editions.

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gossip_girls_by_densetsu_no_akira-d4xtns8

There are a ton of gossip in the digital publishing and e-reader sector that transpires every single week. Most of these short snippets simply wouldn’t do as a singular article. Today, we look at all of the little tidbits we have gleaned from interviews and research.

Zinio is at a crossroads in the digital magazine sector. The company has fired most of the staff in their California office. This is where most of the app development and research and development occurs. Most high level staff have now abandoned the company as they try and rekindle some of the success they had when the iPad first came out.

ImCoSys imcoV6L e-reader never really took off in North America, due to FCC certification really coming really late, and the official launch has been continuously delayed. The company has been selling them in Europe for a few months and has attracted investment capital. imCoSys has confirmed they will present a successor model, as well as another world novelty at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. They also said “In the US we are in exclusive discussions with big partners for the successor of the imcoV6L.”

Barnes and Noble will be putting together an announcement in mid-August about the two new Nook Tablets, done in conjunction with Samsung. Likely a media event will happen towards the end of August, where they will do something at Union Square in New York.

PressReader, the Vancouver based digital newspaper company is unveiling PressReader Offline. It is a solution for airplanes, oil rigs, cargo vessels and cruise ships. It basically uses satellite internet in non-peak hours to download newspapers from the internet and then allow anyone on the vessel to download them to their smartphone or tablet via WIFI.

Netherlands based e-reader company Icarus is going to be releasing a six inch and 9.7 inch Open Android ereader around August. It will be running Android 4.2, which is way better than what Onyx is using.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves met with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week to talk about eBooks. There is no definitive word on whether it was the early stage talks on a new contract, something to do with Kindle Unlimited or some sort of bargain about the possible outcome of the Hachette dispute.

On July 22, Flickr will be removing the option to sign in with a Facebook or Google account. You must have a Yahoo account in order to sign in to Flickr.

JK Rowling has said that writing seven more Robert Galbraith is a “no brainer”, describing the Harry Potter novels as “six whodunits and one whydunit” – and admitting her “dirty secret” – that she never reads fantasy.

Pocketbook will be releasing the Ultra e-reader in a few weeks. This e-reader has a camera that they are billing as a tool to make scanlation copies of books and read it on your device. They just made the first waterproof e-reader, the Aqua, available last week.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo self-publishing platforms have started to crack down on erotica featuring Sasquatch, minotaurs, aliens, and boar gods.

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Self-Published authors often flock to Facebook and Twitter to promote their books and try and get a few sales. A few months ago Amazon and Twitter came together to form an ecommerce solution called Amazon Cart. This allowed indie authors to post links to their Kindle Books and all a reader had to do was use a special hashtag to automatically add the title to their shopping basket.  Facebook is trialing a new program that will allow Pages and newsfeeds to be able to sell books and eBooks directly to readers

The new Facebook Buy it Now button will be compatible with desktop or mobile and will allow people to click on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook.  Once you click the button, which is currently being tested with select small business partners in the US, a pop-up will prompt you to confirm payment and shipping info.

Not only is this program relevant for indie authors, but also established ones too. Most authors often use Facebook and Twitter exclusively, and have built up loyal and engaged fans. Instead of directing a user to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords or a myriad of other sites to fulfill the orders, authors could basically just sell books directly.

There is no word on when this will roll out on a more broader scale. After the series of beta tests, Facebook will evaluate whether the project will be available to the public.

Categories : E-Book News
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Unlimited
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the ebook and audiobook subscription service that lets members pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to its catalog, went live today, offering users a thirty day free trial and the option to pay $9.99 a month for the service. According to a press release issued by Amazon, the service is compatible with both Kindle reading devices and tablets, as well as through the Kindle reading app on other popular brands of mobile devices.

“With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre—you can just start reading and listening,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy. We hope you take advantage of the 30-day free trial and try it for yourself.”

In the most interesting news about the launch, the Unlimited catalog–which features 600,000 ebooks and 2,000 audiobooks–automatically includes self-published works that authors have listed in Amazon’s exclusive program, KDP Select. However, any author who wishes to unenroll from KDP Select to avoid including his titles in Kindle Unlimited may do so immediately, without having to wait for the ninety day period.

Amazon representatives told Good e-Reader this morning: “There are many self-published titles in the catalog. If you have a book enrolled in KDP Select, it will automatically be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. If you do not want your books in Kindle Unlimited, you have the option to immediately remove your book from KDP Select. To do so, please include the ASIN for your book when you complete this Contact Us form. We will remove your book from KDPS right away and contact you to confirm. You can see our forum post on the announcement for KDP authors here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AA9BSAGNO1YJH.”

Self-published authors will be compensated in much the same way as they are when consumers borrow their books through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. When Kindle Unlimited customers read at least ten percent of an indie author’s book through the service, that will count as a “read” for compensation from the KDP Select Global Fund, just as if a non-member had borrowed the title through KOLL.

As an added incentive for membership, readers who join Kindle Unlimited will also be given a free three-month membership to Audible to try out their catalog of over 150,000 audiobooks. Full details on the service and the free trials can be found at amazon.com/KindleUnlimited.


SHHO-2
Most people don’t think of copyright law when they think of gripping drama and suspenseful twists and turns, but the truth is copyright is actually quite fascinating. Of course, no one is more fascinated right now than the litigants in a case involving copyright over Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes characters.

To understand the ramifications of a case that is currently working its way through the courts, it’s important to know the history behind a new book by American crime writer Leslie Klinger. Klinger, a known expert on Sherlock Holmes and other classics, has a new book potentially entitled In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, but the heirs to the original author’s estate are contesting the use as it falls under copyright restrictions.

Here’s where it gets fascinating: under copyright law, a work enters the public domain after a set period of time, roughly one hundred years following publication. Muddying the waters somewhat is the distinction between when Sherlock Holmes was published in the UK versus the US. Further confusing the issue is the fact that the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories were published over a multi-year time span, meaning some of the stories are currently in the public domain, and others still are not; the final ten stories, for example, will not become public domain until the end of 2022.

Just to make it even more confusing, lower courts have already ruled on this specific case, and the result of the ruling is actually very interesting. Essentially, modern authors can use any settings, characters, and specific characteristics of the characters that appear in works that are already out from under copyright restriction, but cannot use any details that are still under copyright without permission and paying a licensing fee to the estate. For example, in one of the later works that is still under copyright restriction, it is revealed that Dr. Watson had played rugby for a specific team when he was younger. This little detail comes out in conversation with Holmes, and is not part of the action of the story, however that detail was only revealed in a later work. Therefore, a current author is allowed to use the character Dr. Watson, for example, but cannot state where he played rugby or allude to an old rugby injury.

Conan Doyle’s estate is attempting to overturn the lower courts’ rulings and sought an “emergency petition” from the Supreme Court, but the court refused to hear arguments in the case, presumably citing that there was nothing in the lower court’s ruling that required a new review. Lawyers for the estate have said they will still move forward with their request for a review, but one of the issues that will be determined in court is who has to foot the bill for this legal battle. As it stands, Klinger (and presumably his publisher) has had to engage his own attorneys to represent him against the suit, and the responsibility for paying his legal fees will also be decided by the court.

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Verso banner
It’s the same in every classroom, in every school, in every subject area. Certain students are “getting it” and engaging with the content, while other students are trailing behind, getting more and more lost and less and less likely to admit it. But a new assessment tool that lets students structure their own questions, responses, and discussion points offers teachers the ability to understand what every student is thinking about the material without having to conduct individualized assessments at every step along the way. Even better, the students are equipped to provide their feedback without calling attention to themselves, making them more likely to engage and offer genuine insight into where they might be lagging.

The Verso App lets students work through teacher-driven material and then respond, while also allowing them to see classmates’ interactions after they complete the material. This equips teachers to know before approaching each lesson where the students are still having trouble with comprehension, as well as know which areas the class has mastered in order to avoid wasting instructional time.

“Using the Verso App, teachers enter the classroom fully aware of students’ questions, ideas, misconceptions and what they are revealing as their individual learning needs,” Collin Wood, CEO of Verso Learning, said in a press release. “Teachers now know what they have to do to support every student in moving forward.”

“Since these responses are anonymous, it gives students the confidence to take risks they may not otherwise take. As they collaborate and reward quality contributions with ‘likes,’ they are giving and receiving feedback and using that feedback to shape their thinking.”

Tools like this one have the power to take today’s digital natives and prepare them for the higher order thinking and technology incorporation that so many state and national curricula around the world are now focusing on. Information on the free app is available from Verso Learning at VersoApp.com.