E-Book News - Part 2

Archive for E-Book News

201210071207

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

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

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

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

How it works

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

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

Requirements

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

Eligibility

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

Reporting and Royalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you again and best wishes,

Michael Pietsch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please consider including these points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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eBooks have grown to be a billion dollar business and now accounts for 27% of all book sales in the US. Print books are still holding their own and have only declined slightly in 2013 at a paltry 1%.

The decrease in tangible book sales is  partly attributed to less books being printed. Bowker reports that 304,912 books were produced by traditional publishers in 2013 compared to 309,957 in 2012.

The non-traditional publishing sector was hit the hardest due to the rise of public domain and indie authors switching to digital. The print industries output for 2013 was projected at 1,108,183 titles, a decrease of 46% from its production of 2,042,840 titles in 2012 and a dramatic reverse from its 55% growth in 2012 over 2011.

It is very interesting to see the multitude of factors that make up that 1% decline in the print industry. Public domain titles such as Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick are all available for free online, but in the stores they range from $5-$29 a pop.

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Publishers and self-publishers are having a love affair with eBooks. Ever since Amazon announced that digital editions were selling at a 3:1 ratio over print books, people took notice. A new report states that 84% of publishers will be making eBooks this year and 62% stated that eBook quality was the most paramount concern.

Big and medium sized publishers are in an advantageous position with in-house tools that make digitizing a book fairly easy. For everyone else, there is seldom an off-the-shelf solution to generate a proper table of contents, use industry standard fonts, employ proper margins or convert it from one format to another. All publishers need to insure their books are formatted correctly in order to not alienate readers.

The survey results highlight many of the concerns that publishers have with going digital. It takes about what online bookstore people have the most success with and what formats are most popular.

2014 Digital Publishing Survey

Question 1

Questions 2 & 3

Question 4

Question 5

Question 6

Question 7

Question 8

Question 9

Questions 10 & 11

Question 12

Question 13

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O’Reilly Media, which originally developed Safari Books Online, is now the sole owner of the company, after purchasing Pearson’s 50% stake in the former joint venture.  Safari will not have to consult an equity stake partner anymore and will be able to fast track any type of development they want to pursue.

Safari, launched 13 years ago with 600 titles, is an online content platform success story. Today, the company’s more than 1,000,000 active users can choose from over 25,000 books and 10,000 hours of video training from 200 publishers and other content providers. While Safari initially focused on technology content, it now covers business and design topics, as well.

How is Safari different from other online bookstores? They have been pioneering the online subscription model for a very long time. They also have videos, short form content, and evolving manuscripts from O’Reilly Media and other publishers including Addison-Wesley, Prentice Hall, Peachpit, John Wiley & Sons, Microsoft Press, Adobe Press, Cisco Press, Manning Publications, Packt, SAS Publishing, IBM Press, FT Press and Focal Press. You could say that Safari is known for having a high degree of geek cred, but certainly won’t appeal to your average Hunger Games reader.

Many people use Safari because they have a ton of obscure content that is not available anymore else. If you are unable to find any results on Google, try Safari, they normally have it.

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Amazon has penned an open letter on their website which spells out their mentality in approaching the ongoing Hachette eBook dispute.  They primarily contend that selling eBooks at the $9.9 price point sells more copies and garners more money than titles that retail for $14.99.

In a written statement Amazon said “A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive.

It’s also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that at the lower price, total revenue increases 16%.

Amazon also made the keypoint of exactly how royalties are pointed to be shared between Hachette and the Seattle based company. “While we believe 35% should go to the author and 35% to Hachette, the way this would actually work is that we would send 70% of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author. We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call.”

In closing Amazon said “Is it Amazon’s position that all e-books should be $9.99 or less? No, we accept that there will be legitimate reasons for a small number of specialized titles to be above $9.99.”

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BookPal has just launched a brand new wholesale eBook operation, that will allow schools, government and businesses to buy titles  in bulk.

When you purchase eBooks from BookPal one of the ways to  read them  is via the  BookPal app. It is a fairly robust with the ability to make highlights, annotations, look up a definition and share excerpts with Facebook or Twitter. In order to customize the overall e-reading experience users can adjust the font size, brightness, margins or initiate night mode. You can download the apps for free for  iOS and Android.

There are over 50,000 titles available at launch, which  come from publishers such as  Perseus Books Group, Harvard Business School Press, Gallup Press, Workman Publishing, Storey and Open Road Media.

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Scholastic has announced in a very covert manner that they are closing the Storia eBook store, as we know it, and transitioning it into STORIA SCHOOL EDITION and Family Streaming Edition. Instead of selling eBooks directly, they intend on adopting the uber popular Netflix for eBooks ideology. What happens to the hundreds of thousands of books already purchased? How does this new subscription system actually work and is it a viable business model?

Storia was Scholastics catch all system for purchasing eBooks on an individual basis. Parents, schools and kids would use the reading app for iOS, Android and the Kindle Fire to purchase books on-demand. In order to preserve your existing content, you have to open the titles by October 2014 or they will be unable to be read them.

You can think of Storia eBooks as dedicated apps, similar to how digital magazines work on the Apple newsstand. If these apps require an update between now and August 2015, they will likely break the book. This is the primarily reason why Scholastic has stealthy offered a refund policy for any books purchased via the Storia platform. They aren’t really doing a good job making this publicly known, as there is a simple one paragraph blurb on their main website about it.

Scholastic confirmed with Good e-Reader that “Our customer service lines are fielding calls, facilitating refunds and assisting schools in transitioning from individual books purchased by teachers to streaming for an entire school. The advantage is easier access and that each ebooks is accessible by more than one child at a time (rather than buying multiple copies) which is a huge plus for the classroom; teachers are also learning about the new student progress tracking features and they like them.”

Scholastic Storia for Education was first announced in April 2014 and will be formally launched at the beginning of September. It is a system that has 2,000 eBooks and will be delivered in a subscription format. The exact rate that schools pay are dependant upon the size of the student body and how much content they intend on downloading. I have heard that the average rate is between $1,500 and $2,000 per year. This system might be beneficial for schools as they can deliver multiple copies of the same book, without having to buy 30 individual copies.

It will likely be awhile before parents and children themselves can opt into the new subscription system. Scholastic has confirmed with Good e-Reader that they are developing a Family Streaming service that is currently in the Research and Development stage. Therefore the sales structure has not been announced as single title or subscription or both. There has been no ETA given for the official launch, but likely we will not hear about until next year. The main priority is to get the new Education system up and running.

Basically, what Scholastic is doing is shuttering selling eBooks directly to schools, parents and kids. Instead, they are adopting a more financially lucrative subscription based system, which alienates families. Why have a parent buy a few titles a year, when you can have steady income generated from hundreds of schools in the US all paying a few thousand dollars a year.

My biggest concern with Storia technology being integrated into Storia for Education is awareness. Parents and Kids may casually use the app on their tablet or phone to buy and read books. They certainly don’t look at the official Storia website or read publishing geared websites like Good e-Reader. What happens when a new 39 Clues book is announced and little Jimmy is a huge fan of the series. They open the Storia app to try and buy it, only to realize all singular title purchases have been suspended and some of their past purchases don’t even work anymore.. Parents will likely be wondering why some titles work and some don’t and blame their device. In the end, they might decide that Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo might be the more viable method to purchase future titles. After all, they don’t change their entire eBook selling paradigm at the drop of a hat.

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